The two teams whose standing on the NHL leaderboard is least indicative of their actual strength are the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.
While the Canadiens lead the league in wins (16) and points (33) — granted, the stats that matter most — they’ve only scored four more goals than they’ve surrendered, and we’re 23 games in.
The Habs rank just 21st in offence, 25th with the man-advantage and 10th in goals against. When they’re off, they’re way off: Montreal’s last two losses (to the Rangers and Penguins) have been by a combined score of 9-0. Hardly the makings of a Presidents’ Trophy winner.
Conversely, the 13th overall Blackhawks boast a gaudy plus-20 goal differential, second only to Pittsburgh’s plus-27. Chicago trots out the league’s best penalty kill, the second-best defence and they rank in the top 12 in offence and the power play. (The Hawks also have four of the top 10 vote-getters for the All-Star Game.) And when you consider that this team knows it doesn’t have to turn on the jets until spring, the competition should be afraid.
Here are this week's NHL Power Rankings: Haiku Edition. Yep, each team's summary is confined to a mini Japanese* poem.
*Japanese content, apparently, does very well on Sportsnet's hockey page (This is making a case for our most-watched video of the year.)