NHL Power Rankings: Curb Your Enthusiasm Edition

Curb Your Enthusiasm reator and executive producer Larry David. (Matt Sayles/AP)

Prior to puck drop, it’s all doughnuts in the loss column and gravy in the press conferences.

Hopes of all 31 franchises are high, the veterans are healthy, the rookies look like world-beaters, and did you see that pre-season game where the Montreal Canadiens erupted for nine goals?

Pret-ty, pret-ty, pretty, pretty good.

Then reality interrupts like a Gordie elbow, truth hits like a Byfuglien shoulder, and vulnerability brings you down to earth like a Robby Fabbri ligament.

In honour of this week’s triumphant return of our favourite one-of-a-kind old guy with more hair out the back than on top — no, not that one, the other one — we present… NHL Power Rankings: Curb Your Enthusiasm Edition.

Larry David confessed Sunday that he even as a boy he just couldn’t get excited.

Here are 31 grumpy reasons why you should rein in that optimism for your favourite club, ranked in order of their awesomeness ahead of Opening Night.

Rank Team Previous
1

The names were just chiseled into Lord Stanley’s mug, those blinged-out Jostens rings are gorgeous, a three-peat opportunity awaits. Too bad the Penguins say they’ll be cheesing next to a man so toxic, the mayor of Pittsburgh is taking a knee on the White House field trip.

1
2

According to most articles previewing the season, the Edmonton Oilers broke with tradition when they hoisted the 2018 Stanley Cup in mid-September. But — knock on wood — what if Cam Talbot isn’t healthy enough to start 73 games and all untested Laurent Brossoit becomes the last line of defence?

4
3

The Ducks are my pre-season pick to win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, but what if Patrick Eaves was a fluke, Corey Perry continues his decline, and Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen don’t recover well?

2
4

All the key pieces for a fantastic 82-game effort are in place … so let’s just earmuff it when the talking heads inevitably bring up coach Bruce Boudreau’s playoff record.

5
5

Sure, Steven Stamkos is healthy, the goalie questions have silenced, and the Lightning realize they can’t coast through the first three months of the season on talent alone. But are they rushing the development of Mikhail Sergachev and ruining a prized prospect?

3
6

We got Josh Anderson for cheap and pried Artemi Panarin away from Patrick Kane. It stands to reason that if we don’t live up to our franchise-record-breaking 2016-17 effort, John Tortorella will be reasonable about the decline.

6
7

Yes, the Flames landed Jaromir, but what does that say about the depth of their homegrown forward core? P.S. Think of all the Air Miles the Travelling Jagrs won’t be earning.

9
8

The dyntastic Blackhawks are an established regular-season super power. A super power that lost Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artemi Panarin and Marian Hossa — three all-world hockey players.

7
9

We interrupt this municipal parade-route zoning plan meeting to remind you that Toronto finished among the NHL’s bottom third in both goals and shots allowed.

12
10

Dallas put in major work this off-season reshaping its personnel from the bench to the crease and all the way out. Yet if the super line of Jaime Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov ends up in Coach Hitchcock’s doghouse, we could be in for a major disappointment.

13
11

Coach Barry Trotz said last spring’s playoff ouster “took a piece of us.” Well, the salary cap took about five pieces. The two-time defending Presidents’ Trophy champs enter the season fragile.

8
12

The problem with reaching the Stanley Cup Final and seizing the hockey world’s imagination with your enthusiasm and well-balanced defence is that you can only go downhill from here. Finish ninth instead of eighth and you become sad country song fodder.

10
13

We won’t beat you up today, Blues fans. You already lost Fabbri, Alex Steen, Jay Bouwmeester, Patrik Berglund, and the Jaromir Jagr bidding war. Enthusiasm thoroughly curbed.

11
14

The Panthers are one of the most intriguing and overhauled groups in the East. Surely all of their dumped salary is simply book-clearing for some great trade deadline pickups.

15
15

Erik Karlsson can drag Ottawa to the conference final on half an ankle bone with half a defence partner the same way he can drag Ottawa to the conference final on a full (but damaged) ankle bone with a full (but damaged) defence partner. Right?

14
16

Mount Everest climber Ed Viesturs addressed the Rangers during a team-building trek upstate, hoping to inspire them. If the King goes down or their centre depth is exposed, Ondrej Pavelec and Filip Chytil may feel lost in the wilderness.

16
17

Patrik Laine is sniping, Brian Little is healthy and paid, Mark Scheifele is one of the NHL’s least-discussed superstars … yep, this is the Jets’ breakout season, the one where they win a playoff game. Maybe a series. No pressure, Steve Mason.

18
18

The good news is Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown rushing on the top line. The bad news is that it’s no longer 2012.

17
19

The Bruins’ rather stagnant off-season ultimately resulted in keeping David Pastrnak. So, everyone in Boston is confident that losing Colin Miller and Malcolm Subban to Vegas for nothing won’t come back to haunt them.

20
20

Three out of four dentists agree that 38-year-old Joe Thornton should be perfectly fine only a few months after playing hockey with unattached knee ligaments. Like, $8-million-in-guaranteed-funds fine.

19
21

Carolina made a few nifty transactions, adding when others in its division subtracted, to become the hipster’s choice as playoff surprise. Not that we want it to happen, but how harsh will things get if Scott Darling is just a really, really good backup?

22
22

Has John Tavares signed yet?

25
23

Locking down Jack Eichel prior to puck drop is a massive weight lifted off the Sabres’ collective shoulders. Is the young centre enough to reinvigorate a 34-year-old Jason Pominville, who suddenly finds himself back on his old team’s top line?

23
24

Before tucking themselves into bed at night, Flyers fans repeat the following mantra: “The real Claude Giroux is the 2009-10 Giroux. The real Shayne Gostisbehere is the 2015-16 Gostisbehere.” Then they pray they’re not lying to themselves.

24
25

Carey Price, locked up for the rest of his prime, is poised to win a ton of games for Montreal. Tricky part is, they’ll all be 2-1 games.

21
26

Nico Hischier is flying and the Devils are one of the best-looking teams in the entire NHL. Also this: Pre-season means nothing.

26
27

Vancouver appears to finally be developing its prospects the right way (i.e., slowly) and may be able to spin a few right-now players into draft picks or prospects, following the same pump-and-dump model the Leafs used. The catch is, fans want to watch the kids without travelling to Utica.

27
28

The excitement around all the raw talent in the greater Phoenix area should be justified, as a lot of players on the Coyotes will see an increase in minutes. The juries out on Antti Raanta as a No. 1 netminder and Rick Tocchet as a head coach are still out.

28
29

Too bad the actual games aren’t played on Twitter.

29
30

Even Pavel Datsyuk has gone on record saying it’s a positive thing that the Red Wings missed the playoffs, that the end of The Streak may allow them to rebuild properly. Trouble is, we’re not certain the front office sees this as a rebuild.

30
31

We’re not certain there’s much enthusiasm left to curb. The only way the 22-win, trade-rumour-haunted, GM-on-the-hotseat Avalanche can have a worse season is if they finish below an expansion team that didn’t try to build the best roster.

31

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