Vendetta’s NHL November 2021 Power Rankings
Anyone telling you it’s Christmas season is forgetting about a much more important and even closer time of year: power rankings season. For the first time in six months, NHL power rankings are back at Vendetta Sports Media; hopefully better than ever. In case you’re new or just need a refresher, I and several other writers at Vendetta rank every team, every month, 1-32. It’s a mix of a short and long-term outlook, using team statistics, individual performances, injuries, schedule, analytics, and the eye test to varying degrees to develop our lists.
Nobody knows quite where this season is heading; some of these rankings will inevitably age like spoiled milk over the next few months, while others might stand the time the test of time. It’s still pretty early, but it’s no longer early enough to brush off a team’s concerns purely due to the small sample size. You can’t win the Stanley Cup in the fall, but you can sure lose it there, and a few teams are well on their way to doing just that. Others are well underway at establishing themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
With the NHL’s passion for
rewarding mediocrity parity, there isn’t a whole lot of separation in the standings just yet; only four points separate the Rangers and Capitals (T-6th in points) from six clubs tied for 17th (or tied for 23rd, depending on how you look at it). But with over ten percent of the season in every team’s rearview mirror, we know enough to say we know enough to put these rankings together. You inevitably won’t agree with us on every team’s slot, and yes, that’s ok. Let’s start things off at the bottom and work our way up. And boy are there some bad apples in the basement of the inaugural 2021-22 rankings. All statistics, except for records and win streaks, are as of the beginning of play on November 5th.
32. Arizona Coyotes (1-10-1, W1)
Andrew: 31, Ryan: 32, Gavin: 31, Trey: 32, Emma: 31 (Average: 31.4)
Andrew: It’s hard to fathom quite how bad the Coyotes are. Everybody knew this team would be terrible, but it’s far to comprehend the degree of horrible they’ve been so far. Their 11-game losing streak is the longest to start a season since 2017-18. Which poor team started that season with 11 consecutive losses? No need to look farther than the nearest mirror. Despite the best efforts of 25-year old rookie goaltender Karel Vejmelka (.922 SV% in 8 games), this looks like it’s going to get so much worse before it gets better.
31. Chicago Blackhawks (2-9-2, W1)
Andrew: 32, Ryan: 31, Gavin: 30, Trey: 30, Emma: 32 (Average: 31)
Andrew: Even if you ignore the absolute disgrace this franchise is off the ice, their play itself is worthy of nothing but the basement. The Blackhawks can’t defend and have no depth upfront. Marc-Andrè Fleury is straight-up not having a good time, and at 36 years old, you have to wonder if it’s even possible for him to turn things around. Jonathan Toews still hasn’t scored a goal. Jeremy Colliton has all but given up on Dylan Strome, playing him in just four games. The analytics community is winning the Seth Jones debate by a staggering margin.
And yet all of it pales in comparison to the horrible details of the Jenner & Block report, detailing Brad Aldrich’s sexual assault of Kyle Beach in 2010 and how horribly it was handled by Chicago’s leadership. The Blackhawks may be here for a while, and boy do they deserve it.
Gavin: They deserve to be lower, but luckily for them, I’ve got an agenda. As Emma said on the first-ever hockey show, “burn it to the ground”.
30. Montréal Canadiens (3-10-0, L2)
Andrew: 30, Ryan: 29, Gavin: 29, Trey: 29, Emma: 29 (Average: 29.2)
Andrew: Montréal’s decline after their Cinderella run to the Finals just a few months ago has been much sharper than anybody expected. Only the Coyotes have scored fewer goals per game than Montréal’s putrid two, and their power-play isn’t much better. Once flourishing sniper Cole Caufield has struggled so much to start the year the Canadiens sent him to the AHL, a smart decision but still deflating. The good news is that Carey Price is returning from the NHL’s Player Assistance program today; I applaud him for getting the help he needs and wish him the best on and off the ice moving forward. But the Canadiens issues are far too widespread for one player to be able to fix them.
29. Ottawa Senators (3-7-1, L2)
Andrew: 29, Ryan: 30, Gavin: 28, Trey: 28, Emma: 30 (Average: 29)
Andrew: I admire Pierre Dorion’s approach of trying to speak the end of Ottawa’s rebuild into existence, but Ottawa always seemed like a team that needed at least one more for their excellent young talent to ripen. Drake Batherson and Josh Norris are picking up where they left offensively, and inking new captain Brady Tkachuk long-term (albeit at a pretty steep cap hit) is a victory. That’s important because the Senators have just three of those in the standings and with a lack of depth and Matt Murray struggling early, the Sens are still in their growth stage.
Gavin: Call me insane (many have), but I enjoy watching the Senators play. It’s a pity their record isn’t a bit better so I could justifiably put them higher.
28. Seattle Kraken (3-6-1, L1)
Andrew: 21, Ryan: 28, Gavin: 27, Trey: 31, Emma: 27 (Average: 26.8)
Andrew: Their inaugural road trip had some tough moments, dropping four of five games with what looked to me as far too high-event hockey for a team built around their defense. But they’ve turned things around quickly; no team allows fewer shots per game than the Kraken, and they’re top ten in expected goals against, too. If Phillip Grubauer stops being a pumpkin, Seattle feels like a team that could really make a big leap in the next set or two of these rankings. Just don’t make losing to Arizona a habit.
27. Vancouver Canucks (5-6-1, W1)
Andrew: 28, Ryan: 24, Gavin: 25, Trey: 27, Emma: 24 (Average: 25.6)
Andrew: It isn’t the usual suspects that are letting down Vancouver (and by extension me, for picking them to make the playoffs). Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s change of scenery is surprisingly working out, with an excellent 53.5% Expected Goals and Vancouver outscoring opponents 7-3 with him on the ice. Defense actually hasn’t been the problem so far for the Canucks; their 13th in shots allowed per game and 9th in goals against per game thanks to rock-solid goaltending. But somehow Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson have combined for just 4 goals (with Pettersson going goalless in his last 9). Vasily Podkolzin and Nils Höglander haven’t been able to translate their youthful exuberance into tangible offense. Jason Dickinson has just one point. Unless those players start picking up the pace soon, the Canucks might dig themselves into an inescapable hole before long.
26. Detroit Red Wings (6-5-2, W2)
Andrew: 20, Ryan: 26, Gavin: 24, Trey: 25, Emma: 28 (Average: 24.6)
Andrew: All Detroit needs is progress for this to be a successful season, and they’re certainly showing some early on. Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider have been very impressive, and the team actually has some semblance of forward depth this season. Detroit is a mess defensively; they’re bottom five in goals against, shots against, expected goals against, and PK%. That will probably be their undoing sooner rather than later. But the Wings are finally starting to reap the rewards of their rebuild.
25. Los Angeles Kings (5-5-1, W4)
Andrew: 27, Ryan: 23, Gavin: 26, Trey: 22, Emma: 23 (Average: 24.2)
Andrew: LA has righted the ship a bit, winning four straight after dropping six of seven to start. Jonathan Quick has surprisingly been solid to start the year, while starter of the future Cal Petersen is dealing with a murky present (.895 SV%). LA’s playoff hopes have taken a big early blow with significant injuries to defensemen Drew Doughty (out for 8 weeks) and Sean Walker (done for the year). The Kings are taking a ton of shots (2nd in the league with 35.6 per game); but unless the youth develops rapidly, I don’t know if they’ll have enough talent to carry them on offense with their battered blue-line.
24. Buffalo Sabres (5-4-2, OTL1)
Andrew: 19, Ryan: 27, Gavin: 17, Trey: 26, Emma: 26 (Average: 23)
Andrew: Reality is setting in, with four straight mostly convincing losses erasing the shine of a 5-1-1 start. Honestly, this is about as good of a first month as the Sabres could’ve hoped for. They’ve been watchable to start the year, with an expected goals percentage just a shade below break-even. The return for Jack Eichel wasn’t amazing, but they weren’t exactly fleeced. Alex Tuch is a Buffalo native and a speedy 25-goal winger. Peyton Krebs has top-six potential, maybe more. And they also hauled in a 1st and a 2nd (while also sending Vegas a 3rd). Sabres fans needed a month like this; I’m happy they got it.
23. New Jersey Devils (5-3-2, W1)
Andrew: 20, Ryan: 26, Gavin: 24, Trey: 25, Emma: 28 (Average: 22.2)
Andrew: Like Columbus, New Jersey loses some points for how difficult it looks for them to contend in a Metro Division that is somehow better than anyone anticipated. They lose a few more unfairly with Dougie Hamilton going down in a shutout loss to Anaheim on Wednesday and Jack Hughes already out long term. The early returns haven’t been there yet for NJ, but the process is sound; the Devils are top ten in shots on goal for and against, as well as in Expected Goals percentage. It’s just hard to see a path forward for the Devils if their two best players are out for a significant amount of time.
22. Nashville Predators (6-5-1, OTL1)
Andrew: 26, Ryan: 20, Gavin: 22, Trey: 19, Emma: 20 (Average: 21.4)
Andrew: This is largely what I expected from Nashville; not terrible, but not very good, either. The decision to stack Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen on the top line is actually working fairly well so far; the duo has combined for seventeen points, though they have been out-chanced and outscored so far at 5-on-5. Losing Filip Forsberg to a week-to-week upper-body injury could be an earlier than expected death below. Jusse Saros, who has a .922 SV% playing in all eight of Nashville’s games to date, can only do so much.
21. Dallas Stars (4-5-2, L1)
Andrew: 22, Ryan: 25, Gavin: 23, Trey: 9, Emma: 25 (Average: 20.8)
Andrew: The 2021-22 Stars are taking a page out of the 2019-20 club’s regular-season book, failing to score consistently in October. Dallas’ 2.1 goals per game are 30th in the NHL, and they aren’t much better by shots per game or Expected Goals For. Only Tyler Seguin has more than two goals, and Roope Hintz’s career year in 2021 is looking like a total outlier, as he’s tallied just one assist so far. Braden Holtby is back in prime form with a .924 save percentage, which is all that’s keeping Dallas afloat right now.
20. Anaheim Ducks (6-4-3, W4)
Andrew: 25, Ryan: 19, Gavin: 19, Trey: 21, Emma: 19 (Average: 20.6)
Andrew: This very likely isn’t the year Anaheim returns to the playoffs, but they’ve really got something in that Trevor Zegras kid; he already looks like a truly special talent. Troy Terry is off to an excellent start this year, though that’s due to a pie-in-the-sky 33.3% shooting. Anaheim’s 5-on-5 play is rough; they’re 30th in the league with a 44.8% Expected Goals. But their special teams are excellent (5th in PP, 13th in PK), and if John Gibson really is back, the Ducks can at least pretend to be wild card contenders for the next few months.
Gavin: As long as Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras keep putting up fantasy points, I’ll continue to cheer these rejects on. They might make it further than the Avalanche… who knows!
19. San Jose Sharks (6-4-1, OTL1)
Andrew: 18, Ryan: 21, Gavin: 16, Trey: 18, Emma: 22 (Average: 19)
Andrew: The Sharks turning back the clock to 2016 vintage was not on my early season NHL surprises bingo card. Timo Meier is bouncing back to his excellent 2019 form, Logan Couture is productive, and even Erik Karlsson has been solid again (6 points, 50% xG). San Jose’s biggest issue last year was their goaltending; thank their jump from 31st in team save percentage to 16th for their early-season success. A 45.4% Expected Goals buoyed by a poor offense suggests this won’t last. But maybe there’s a little bit more 2017-18 L.A. Kings (aka “aging veteran team turns it around for one last solid season”) than we gave them credit for.
Gavin: Keep doing well, Sharks. Miss the playoffs by a point (or go out in the first round, whichever you prefer) and stay irrelevant for the foreseeable future. Signed, all non-Sharks fans.
18. Columbus Blue Jackets (7-3-0, W3)
Andrew: 24, Ryan: 15, Gavin: 13, Trey: 23, Emma: 16 (Average: 18.2)
Andrew: Patrik. Laine. I don’t really want to say anything else. He only has three goals, but they have been some absolute beauties, as he looks nothing like the ghost that was skating around (at least when John Tortorella let him off his leash) for CBJ last year. Props to Jarmo Kekäläinen for finding the perfect complement for him in former Blue Jackets 1st round pick Jakub Voracek (9 assists); their deal with Philly to acquire him is looking like a win-win so far. Four of Columbus’ six victories have come after regulation, and Elvis Merzlikins isn’t going to have a .939 SV% forever (though he’s making me look smart for being my Vezina pick). The Blue Jackets are the weakest team in the Metro on paper, but they’ve made a reputation for doing more with less. Does that mean Laine’s recent injury plays into their hand?
17. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-3, OTL1)
Andrew: 12, Ryan: 18, Gavin: 18, Trey: 20, Emma: 18 (Average: 17.2)
Andrew: Never has Pittsburgh’s Mark Donk and Buzz Fibbet energy been higher than it was in October 2021. Despite Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, and Kris Letang dressing a combined eight times due to injuries and COVID, the Penguins started 3-0-2 and are still at least treading water thanks to a hilarious cast of characters. Leading scorer Danton Heinen? Drew O’Connor and Brock McGinn scoring more than Jake Guentzel? Tristan Jarry shrugging off last year’s playoff embarrassment? It wouldn’t make sense anywhere else, but this is the Pittsburgh Penguins; as long as Crosby is still around (if only in spirit), they always seem to find a way.
16. Colorado Avalanche (4-5-1, L1)
Andrew: 11, Ryan: 17, Gavin: 32, Trey: 8, Emma: 15 (Average: 16.6)
Andrew: I touched on this in Vegas, but man is Colorado banged up right now. Nathan MacKinnon was out to start the year, then Mikko Rantanen and Andre Burakovsky missed a couple of games, and now Cale Makar joins Devon Toews and Valeri Nichushkin on IR. All of that should work itself out in due time. But what about goaltending? Darcy Kuemper hasn’t been anything special, and Pavel Francouz (still on LTIR) hasn’t played a game since August 30th, 2020. It’s a bit premature to call it mighty Colorado’s Achilles heel, but my eyebrows are raised.
Gavin: This team is broken. They are going to get Jared Bednar fired. And if Darcy Kuemper is the answer, I don’t want to know the question. Realistically, they will not be this low on anyone else’s lists, but the fact they are supposed to be Stanley Cup favorites (never mind contenders) is an absolute joke and why I’ve placed them here. Shane Wright Sweepstakes here we come!
15. Vegas Golden Knights (6-6-0, L1)
Andrew: 15, Ryan: 16, Gavin: 20, Trey: 6, Emma: 17 (Average: 14.8)
Andrew: Everybody two’s money in the bank Western Conference powerhouses isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Neither are currently in a playoff spot, but both have good reasons for their slow starts; namely, both have suffered all of the injuries. Vegas is currently without Mark Stone (back), Max Pacioretty (broken foot), and William Karlsson (broken foot), among others. And that’s not even counting Jack Eichel, who will be out for at least a few months with neck surgery. November may just be a month on the mend as Vegas sets its eyes on becoming unstoppable in the second half.
Gavin: CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You won the Jack Eichel Sweepstakes. As a reward, you get to go through cap hell for the next few years. Good luck working those depth pieces out. Maybe you can use some of those first-round draft pick prospects you’ve picked up… oh, wait.
14. New York Islanders (5-3-2, L1)
Andrew: 13, Ryan: 14, Gavin: 15, Trey: 17, Emma: 14 (Average: 14.6)
Andrew: You could make the argument that the Isles’ daunting 13-game road trip to start the year (due to the construction of their new arena in Belmont Park) is actually a blessing in disguise. If New York can just break even (which they’re doing so far), they’ll have 41 of their last 69 games at home, where the Islanders have the sixth-best record in the league since Barry Trotz arrived. It is worth noting that New York hasn’t been their usual stout selves early on; New York is bottom ten in shots against and expected goals against. Thank Ilya Sorokin and some regression-ready shooting percentages for their respectable early record.
13. Boston Bruins (5-4-0, L1)
Andrew: 10, Ryan: 13, Gavin: 14, Trey: 13, Emma: 12 (Average: 12.4)
Andrew: The results haven’t been incredible, but Boston’s underlying numbers show a breakout waiting to happen. Boston is 2nd in the league with a 57.7% Expected Goals. Jeremy Swayman is in a bit of a sophomore slump, but Linus Ullmark is reminding everyone why the Bruins committed $20 million to him in July (and how good he can be playing for not Buffalo). David Pastrnak isn’t going to shoot 6.1% for long, especially with arguably his largest enemy out of the way for another year. Patrice Bergeron was held goalless in seven games before tallying four times on Thursday. Charlie Coyle (5 points, 60% xG) is looking like at least a competent 2C. If the Bruins keep their current play up, rising in the standings feels inevitable.
T-11. Minnesota Wild (8-3-0, W3)
Andrew: 5, Ryan: 12, Gavin: 12, Trey: 14, Emma: 13 (Average: 11.2)
Andrew: We are living in a world where the Minnesota Wild is still one of the league’s best offensive teams. I’m not really sure how they’re doing it, either. Kirill Kaprizov is scoring at a point-per-game rate but only has one goal. I said Marcus Foligno’s 27.5% shooting from last year was destined for regression, yet right now it’s at 36.4%. Their goaltending has been some of the league’s worst, but Minnesota hasn’t let that slow them down. The Wild lead the NHL in shots per game and expected goals percentage, with a strong defense to boot. Is Dean Evason a top-five coach in this league? If Wild keeps it up, it’s hard to argue against it.
T-11. Winnipeg Jets (6-3-2, L1)
Andrew: 17, Ryan: 9, Gavin: 9, Trey: 12, Emma: 9 (Average: 11.2)
Andrew: Despite their best intentions, Winnipeg’s formula hasn’t really improved; at least not yet. Their best players still score a lot (looking at you, Kyle Connor), but team defense remains a major issue, and their overall 5-on-5 play is… let’s call it flawed. It’s not all bad; Pierre-Luc Dubois is back in Columbus form, and Josh Morrissey has gone from possession nightmare to the solid player he was back when he had Jacob Trouba by his side. I’m not quite sure how the Jets are 5-2-2 with their defensive issues and Connor Hellebuyck’s slow start, to be honest. If one or both of those issues are ironed out, it’s still scary to think about what the Jets could become.
10. Philadelphia Flyers (6-2-2, W1)
Andrew: 16, Ryan: 11, Gavin: 6, Trey: 7, Emma: 11 (Average: 10.2)
Andrew: The first nine games have been too much like last year’s first nine games when the Flyers danced through the raindrops of terrible possession numbers to a solid early record before utterly collapsing. This year’s team isn’t as much of a disaster at 5-on-5, and maybe getting Ryan Ellis and Kevin Hayes back in November will help alleviate their concerns. And they took a step towards that on Saturday with an excellent performance and 2-1 win at Washington.
One area that thankfully couldn’t look farther than how it looked last season? Goaltending. Carter Hart has been locked in since a bit of an opening-night hiccup, and even Martin Jones (league-leading .950 save percentage!) is looking strong. For everything that went wrong last year, the Flyers still finished 19th in the league with a miles-below-everybody .879% save percentage (San Jose, feat. Jones, was next worst at .891%). If everything stays the same but just that improves (it’s currently 8th in the league), that might be enough to fix Philly on its own. Though it’d be better if the rest of the team doesn’t leave that to chance.
9. New York Rangers (6-3-3, L1)
Andrew: 14, Ryan: 4, Gavin: 7, Trey: 16, Emma: 4
Andrew: The Rangers aren’t too different from their Metropolitan Division counterparts in Philadelphia so far. Their 5v5 play isn’t great; they’re 31st in shots per game and 25th in Expected Goals%. Igor Shesterkin’s coming out party as an elite goaltender, recording a .943 save percentage and picking up five of New York’s six wins. The offense has been a mixed bag; Chris Kreider has eight goals, but Artemi Panarin has just two (albeit alongside 8 assists). Alexis Lafrenière and Kappo Kakko have combined for three goals and an assist (all of which belong to Lafreniére) in 18 games; those two must step forward if the Rangers hope to crash the playoff party in the crowded Metro.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-4-1, W5)
Andrew: 8, Ryan: 10, Gavin: 3, Trey: 10, Emma: 10 (Average: 8.2)
Andrew: The first month of the season felt like three different seasons itself in Toronto. The sky was falling a couple of weeks ago as Toronto couldn’t convert despite creating more chances than the vast majority of teams. Suddenly, the pucks are starting to go for Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, helping the Leafs live up to their potential with a still-active five-game win streak. Their underlying numbers are very strong, and Jack Campbell looks legit in the net (and an extension may be brewing). Will things stabilize in November? Well, they are still the Maple Leafs, after all.
Gavin: Five wins in a row including Saturday’s win over rivals the Boston Bruins. Maybe they’re getting good cause Scott left?
7. St. Louis Blues (7-2-1, L1)
Andrew: 7, Ryan: 8, Gavin: 5, Trey: 11, Emma: 8 (Average: 7.8)
Andrew: The Blues are riding a deep offense and outstanding special teams (2nd in PP% and PK%) to an unexpected excellent start. Vladimir Tarasenko is producing at pre-shoulder surgery rates, Jordan Kyrou is building off last year’s breakout, and Jordan Binnington is playing well when he’s not trying to take out opposing players. I’m still concerned about their defense, which isn’t playing well by the numbers so far. But credit where credit’s due; the Blues look much better than they did at basically any point of last season.
6. Washington Capitals (5-2-4, L1)
Andrew: 4, Ryan: 5, Gavin: 8, Trey: 15, Emma: 6 (Average: 7.6)
Andrew: Maybe one of these years the aging curve will finally catch up with Alex Ovechkin and friends, and the Capitals will finally fall from their pedestal high above the vast majority of the East. That day hasn’t come yet, though. The Great 8 is tied with Draisaitl for the league-lead in goals (10) and first in shots. The return to form for countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov certainly helps, especially with the absence of Nicklas Backström. The Caps are top ten in expected goals for and against per 60, which is to say their odds of slowing down are small. Goaltending has been wildly mediocre, though, and Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie are out for a while. That could lead to some short-term pain, but if nothing else, October shows the Caps still haven’t lost their fastball.
5. Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-2, W1)
Andrew: 9, Ryan: 7, Gavin: 10, Trey: 4, Emma: 5 (Average: 7)
Andrew: If losing their entire third line and a few other depth pieces weren’t enough, Tampa Bay will have to spend a solid chunk of their three-peat quest without 2019 league MVP Nikita Kucherov. There’s no LTIR benefit to save them now, but the Lightning doesn’t look like they need it. All of the usual suspects are producing, with Steven Stamkos especially picking up the slack with a team-leading 12 points. Tampa isn’t playing great defense early on, but there’s little panic with this group.
Gavin: Yeah, they’re bad right now, but they are the reigning repeat champions so they make my top ten.
4. Calgary Flames (7-1-3, W1)
Andrew: 3, Ryan: 6, Gavin: 11, Trey: 5, Emma: 7 (Average: 6.4)
Andrew: For my money, this is the biggest positive surprise of October. Many the return of Darryl Sutter hockey supposedly being the solution to fix the underachieving Flames. Everything’s coming up aces for Calgary. The Flames are top ten in shots for, shots against, and expected goals percentage. Jacob Markström looks like the goaltender Calgary expected when they signed him in October 2020, leading the league with three shutouts. Calgary has a very balanced attack, one that’s near the top of the league even with cold starts for Mikael Backlund and (especially) Sean Monahan. Other than that, there are very few chinks in Calgary’s armor right now.
3. Edmonton Oilers (9-1-0, W4)
Andrew: Arguably no team is embracing their identity more than the Oilers. This team is offense, led by a simply unstoppable Connor McDavid who might score 150 points this year. Maybe even more. Is that even a hot take? And he’s not even Edmonton’s leading scorer! He and Leon Draisaitl, among others, are piling up the points, early on the man advantage where the Oilers are scoring nearly every other attempt, with a 46.4% rate that’s over 14% better than the next best team.
Will it be enough to overcome a defense that’s dead last in shots allowed and 21st in expected goals against? Can they be the best in the West (like they currently are) if/when Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith aren’t posting matching .920 save percentages? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions. But it will sure be fun to watch McDavid and friends try.
Gavin: Imagine if they didn’t have Conor McDavid?
2. Carolina Hurricanes (9-1-0, L1)
Andrew: 1, Ryan: 2, Gavin: 2, Trey: 2, Emma: 1 (Average: 1.6)
Carolina was a team with a wide variety of possible outcomes just a few weeks ago. Most of their offseason moves weren’t all that popular, and have I mentioned how daunting the Metro is yet? Apparently, the Canes didn’t care about that, as they didn’t suffer their first loss until November, and it came on the road against our top-ranked team. Carolina is top five in goals for and against with strong underlying numbers and dominant special teams. Frederik Andersen is playing out of his mind. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored in his return to Montréal. You couldn’t draw up a better start to a season if you tried.
Gavin: Feel free to swap one and two if you want. I’m going this way due to the Panthers’ convincing win on Saturday.
1. Florida Panthers (10-0-1, W2)
Andrew: 2, Ryan: 1, Gavin: 1, Trey: 2, Emma: 1 (Average: 1.4)
The Florida Panthers breakout season in 2015-16, eerily similar to last year’s performance, that they followed with four years of mediocrity. The Cats have mercifully bypassed an encore and instead look like even more of a Cup contender than last season. Just about everybody is producing, with Jonathan Huberdeau and the recently extended Aleksander Barkov leading the way. What is a surprise is how excellent Sergei Bobrovsky is playing; his .948 save percentage is third in the league (min. 2 games played). Maybe it really is 2016 right now. Their sound 5-2 defeat of Carolina was enough to earn the top spot to start the season.
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All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5 unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick (Note: Expected Goals for And Against Totals, NOT Percentages, for teams are 5v5 AND per 60 minutes)