The bloom is off the rose.
Some flaws have been exposed.
Two weeks is long enough, in most markets, for the boundless optimism of opening night to get tempered if not squashed by the cold, hard reality that your favourite team might not be quite as good as you were hoping.
Perhaps that shiny, new free agent is struggling to fit in. Maybe your goaltending isn’t up to par. Maybe the special teams are in the toilet or the underlying numbers paint an unsettling picture.
Sorry, darling. We can’t all be James Neal.
In our NHL Power Rankings: 31 Disturbing Developments Edition, we’ve found a reason for fans of even the hot-start clubs to panic a little.
Because no team is perfect. And that now includes you, Colorado.
All 31 teams are ranked in order of their current power, while the write-ups zero in on a disturbing development beneath the simple win-loss record.
As difficult as it may be to find flaw in the only club undefeated in regulation, the Avalanche rank dead last in face-off winning percentage (44.6%). Step your dots game up, boys.
It’s really cool that the Oilers set a record by rallying from a deficit in each of their first five contests to jump out to a perfect 5-0 start, but crawling from behind is not a recipe for long-term success when teams tighten up.
Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have stormed into October on fire, combining for 10 goals. But no other Bruin has more than one. Six games in, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly and David Backes have combined for zero goals.
It’s exciting that rookie Victor Olofsson has exploded for six goals in seven games, but going back to last season, all eight of his career goals have come on the power play. How about mixing in an even-strength one every now and then, bud?
Of all the playoff-positioned clubs in the East, the Hurricanes have been the least disciplined, taking an average of 9.8 penalty minutes a night. All those minors could catch up to them.
John Gibson and Ryan Miller have been fantastic, but you’ll recall the defence-first Ducks were a nice early-season surprise last season as well — before it all fell to pieces. That Anaheim is soaring in spite of its bottom-10 2.57 goals per game is a little concerning.
Led by Matt Duchene, the Predators have flexed more offensive flashes this season, but their 13.5 shooting percentage is unusually high and is likely to recede to the norm.
The Penguins’ depth has come up huge and Sidney Crosby (surprise!) is leading the way, but you have to think a rash of injuries to regular forwards — Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad and now Jared McCann — is eventually going to take a toll, right? Right?!
The Rangers are asking a lot of Henrik Lundqvist and Alexsander Georgiev by surrendering 35.3 shots per game, more than any other team.
10. St. Louis Blues
Unfortunately, the most disturbing trend in hockey was continued by the St. Louis Blues this week. Impeachment or no, this tweet won’t age well.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2019
The Nationals’ dominance on the diamond is distracting from the fact the Capitals’ Number 1 goalie, Braden Holtby, has limped out to a 1-1-2 start with an .846 save percentage in his contract year.
So, I sifted through a bunch of numbers to drum up all this Power Rankings #content, and the most surprising stat was that no team in the East fires fewer shots on goal than the Lightning (25.7 per game), the same team that operated the greatest offence in 2018-19. This means their shooting percentage is unusually high.
We like this team. A lot. What concerns us, however, is how dependent the Knights are on a 34-year-old goaltender with 947 career games played (playoffs included) and an injury history. Marc-Andre Fleury has only taken one game off, and backup Malcolm Subban, who lost that game, has already suffered an injury.
Leading-scorer J.T. Miller appears like he might just be worth his high trade price. On the flip side, UFA acquisition Micheal Ferland is struggling to make good on his top-six role (and paycheque). He has just one assist, three shots and is a minus-1 through five games, and centre Bo Horvat’s production has tumbled alongside.
Frightening trends abound. Toronto has surrendered the first goal in six of its eight games. It has yet to defeat a team in playoff position, picking up its wins exclusively on softer opponents. And Toronto’s backup goalie, Michael Hutchinson, hasn’t won a game since Jan. 10.
16. Calgary Flames
We believe the Flames’ best hockey lies ahead, but going 1-3 against divisional opponents through the first two weeks of the season is not a good look when the battle for spots in the Pacific is destined to be tight.
High-priced forward James van Riemsdyk, whom the Flyers spent a windfall to bring back in the summer of 2018, has yet to record a point.
18. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets deserve kudos for remaining relevant with a skeleton D corps, but where all those blue-line injuries and departures have really hurt is on the penalty kill. Winnipeg ranks worst in the West in that category, with a measly 60 per cent success rate.
The Canadiens have taken steps to remedy last winter’s atrocious power play and are now among the top half in the league with the man advantage, but they’ve been incredibly porous 4-on-5. The Habs’ 61.1 per-cent success rate on the PK puts them last in the Atlantic and third-worst in the NHL.
The Blue Jackets can’t dress a single goaltender with a save percentage that meets the league average (.905). This is a problem.
The Red Wings’ top line of Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi is dynamic and fast, fun and effective. But the depth falls off a cliff. Each of those top-liners has more than double the points of any other forward on the roster.
The Isles’ underlying numbers are not kind. New York ranks bottom-four in Corsi, high-danger scoring chances and attendance.
23. Florida Panthers
Sergei Bobrovsky has a save percentage of .870. He recently signed a $70-million, max-term contract to fix Florida’s greatest weakness. He’s making the rest of us feel like workplace overachievers.
24. Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel is tied for 10th in team scoring and does not have a goal as a Coyote. Even more concerning: my fantasy team traded away Patrik Laine to acquire Kessel.
25. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks can’t dress a single goaltender with a save percentage that meets the league average (.905). This is a problem.
If Robin Lehner, coming off a Vezina-finalist, Jennings-winning campaign, is putting up better numbers, why is he starting 66.6 per cent fewer games than Corey Crawford?
The Kings’ top four scorers — Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Ilya Kovalchuk, Drew Doughty — would have you believe it’s 2012, but, even if these resurgent performances sustain, the hideous numbers being posted by Jonathan Quick (0-3-0, .793 save percentage) must improve.
28. Ottawa Senators
We love the Senators’ prospect pool. We appreciate the plan to rebuild the right way. Big picture, however, it’s difficult to discuss the organization without bringing up finances. Ottawa ranks dead last when it comes to filling its own building: an average 11,715 seats for an alarming 61.2 per cent of capacity. That’s more than 10 per cent lower than the 30th-ranked Islanders (71.6 per-cent full), and at least the Isles know they have a new building on the way.
29. Dallas Stars
The Stars were supposed to have addressed their secondary-scoring issues in the off-season. Now they’re having primary scoring issues, too. A league-low 1.88 goals per game is embarrassing for a studded lineup that features Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski.
30. Minnesota Wild
The aging Wild — mired in a road trip that seemingly will never end — have never wowed with their offensive prowess but they used to be able to hang their hat on stingy defensive play. Minnesota is now allowing an ugly 4.17 goals a night, the chief contributor to the worst start in franchise history.
Thirty NHL clubs have won at least a game. The New Jersey Devils aren’t one of them. This is a big deal made bigger knowing they have the most important impending UFA on their roster.