31) Arizona Coyotes – The Coyotes have been atrociously bad in nearly every regard, quickly vaporizing the off-season optimism they’d garnered. Perhaps they turn it around, but don’t bet on it.
30) Buffalo Sabres – Newly-minted head coach Phil Housley hasn’t exactly turned things around in Buffalo. They still struggle to defend even with an upgraded blueline, while the offense hasn’t been much better. Their poor start could be even more damaging, considering that few players on the roster have experienced much regular season success.
29) Vancouver Canucks – The Canucks haven’t necessarily been as bad as some expected, but they’ve done nothing to shed the “tanking” label so far.
28) Detroit Red Wings – Detroit has piled up goals and wins in the early going, but it remains to be seen if they can keep that going while getting badly out-shot.
27) New York Rangers – The Rangers had high expectations going into the season, but they’ve been badly out-shot. They’ve piled on the chances, so don’t expect them to be down here for long.
26) Ottawa Senators – Outside of Kyle Turris’s dominance, the Erik Karlsson-less Senators have been unimpressive to date. The elite defenseman’s impending return should have them quickly climbing back up this ranking.
25) Minnesota Wild – Sitting on a record of 1-1-2, the Wild haven’t created chances like they did last year, and they’ve struggled to convert. Their shot-differentials have been disastrous, and a crowded injury-reserve leave this team in a diffuclt.
24) St. Louis Blues – With key contributor RobbiyFabbri out of the lineup, the Blues have played some of their worst hockey in recent years, yet thanks to Jake Allen they a 4-2 record to show for it. We’ll see if that lasts.
23) Boston Bruins – The Bruins have once again struggled to create chances, and they’ve lost the huge edge they once had at even strength. They’ve been without Patrice Bergeron in the process, but their performance remains concerning.
22) Philadelphia Flyers – Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have been their usual dominant selves, while Claude Giroux has also looked impressive. The Flyers have the talent to look this good, but i
21) Colorado Avalanche – The Avs have been one of the best stories of the season so far, with Nail Yakupov re-igniting his career and Matt Duchene sticking it to the doubters. Their overall team performance is a concern, but their impressive top-six might keep this going.
20) Winnipeg Jets – This was supposed to be the Jets’ breakout season, but that feels like a distant possibility at the moment. Connor Hellebuyck has out-shone Steve Mason, which at least bodes well for the future.
19) Nashville Predators – Ryan Ellis’s injury has been exacerbated by a lackluster even strength game. We know Nasvhille is better than this, but the Stanley Cup hangover may be getting the best of them.
18) Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks are without nearly all of their best players at the moment, making it nearly impossible to get a true read on them. They’ve looked bad in the process, landing them at 18.
17) Calgary Flames – Calgary was another popular dark horse pick, but they haven’t done anything to justify that confidence to date.
16) Florida Panthers – The Panthers have been outstanding at even strength, but they’ve been hard pressed to convert dangerous offense. Expectations were so low for them to start that their impressive play must be noted.
15) New Jersey Devils – The John Hynes-coached Deviles have been another great early season story, but their success seems far from sustainable. Their talent level is undeniable, however, and it may keep the good times rolling in the swamp.
14) Vegas Golden Knights – No team has stolen more hearts than the Knights this season, thanks to a heartfelt home opener and outstanding veteran play. James Neal looks great, but Vegas’ lack of track record makes it hard to know if this will continue.
13) San Jose Sharks – The Sharks have shown flashes of potential excellence in the early going, but a slew of mental mistakes and lack of production from their top-six has slowed them down.
12) New York Islanders – For the first time in a while, the Islanders have a dominant top line, comprising of Anders Lee, John Tavares, and Jordan Eberle. They’ve been exciting to watch, and it should carry them going forward.
11) Carolina Hurricanes – The young Hurricanes play an exciting brand of hockey, highlighted by up and coming talents like Jacob Slavin, Sebastian Aho, and Victor Rask. They seem primed to take a true step forward.
10) Dallas Stars – The Stars are loaded potential, and they’ve been solid to start. Whether Ken Hitchcock’s defensive style can mesh with some of the game’s brightest offensive stars remains a question mark, however.
9) Los Angeles Kings – Los Angeles has made good on its off-season promises of more scoring chances, playing an aggressive style that’s eled to some quality looks and a 4-0-1 record.
8) Montreal Canadiens – The Habs have had no problem getting shots on goal and scoring chances in the early going. Converting on those chances has been another story, but their sheer dominance in that regard is enough to feel confident for now.
7) Washington Capitals – Alex Ovechkin looks like “the great eight” once again, firing home nine goals in five games. As long as he’s hot, the Capitals have to be considered as one of the league’s elite. A subpar five-on-five game is worrisome, however.
6) Chicago Blackhawks – The Hawks’ underlying statistics suggest they probably shouldn’t be this high, but the top-end talent they bring to the table allows them to overcome some lesser shot-attempt differentials. Brandon Saad has seamlessly returned to the team, dominating on a line with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.
5) Toronto Maple Leafs – Although flawed defensively, the Auston Matthews-led Maple Leafs can seem to score their way out of any problem. Goaltending could be an issue, but Toronto simply can’t be ignored.
4) Columbus Blue Jackets – Sergei Bobrovsky looks primed to repeat as a Vezina winner, while Artemi Panarin has looked outstanding. Columbus’ depth places them firmly in the top-five.
3) Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid has once again been his dominant self, yet Leon Draisaitl’s injury could prove troublesome long term. For now, the Oilers are without a doubt one of the best teams in the league.
2) Tampa Bay Lightning – Nikita Kucherov is cementing his place as one of the very best players in the entire league. Steven Stamkos has also looked great, making the Lightning impossible to ignore as one of the league’s elite.
1) Pittsburgh Penguins – The Penguins have looked like their usual high-flying selves to start. Sidney Crosby and Matt Murray look great, which should only spell trouble for the rest of the league.
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