We are solely a month into the 2023-24 season and already the preseason energy rankings have been blown to smithereens. Projected contenders have morphed into pretenders. Potential also-rans are making a run on the playoffs. There continues to be time for the hockey world to proper itself, at the very least as we noticed it a month in the past, however there’ll undoubtedly be some disappointments and nice surprises. Here are the primary month’s rankings. Tuesday’s outcomes not included.
1. Vegas Golden Knights – No Stanley Cup hangover for Bruce Cassidy’s boys. They lastly misplaced in regulation on Sunday however they have been coming off a really spectacular walloping of a very good Colorado Avalanche staff. It wouldn’t be shocking in the event that they dip a bit after having the bubble burst.
2. Boston Bruins – They could be a .500 staff with simply common goaltending. But the goalie is a part of the staff, too. Maybe their skill to grind out tight wins will assist them within the spring, however they want do must lighten the load on Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark a bit for the nice instances to proceed rolling.
3. Vancouver Canucks – The ‘Nucks have themselves a good goalie, too, in Thatcher Demko, but they’re additionally pumping pucks into the online with a league-best plus-30 objective differential. Quinn Hughes could possibly be the following 100-point defenseman. No, we didn’t see all this coming.
4. New York Rangers – Peter Laviolette virtually at all times has an instantaneous constructive impact on a staff, and there may be expertise with which to work in Gotham. Like the B’s, the Blueshirts aren’t precisely lighting it up offensively however they’re limiting probabilities in opposition to. Igor Shesterkin hasn’t needed to be nice.
5. New Jersey Devils – We’ll see how nicely the Devils can thrive with out Jack Hughes for some time. Unlike different high groups, Jersey wants to attain loads to succeed. The Devils went into Tuesday with a 3.51 GAA. It’s not the most effective components.
6. Dallas Stars – The Stars are the flipside of the Devils. They’re strong defensively and have wonderful goaltending in Jake Oettinger, however they’re ranked twenty second in objectives scored. They want higher steadiness, however they’ll win plenty of video games with what they provide up.
7. Colorado Avalanche – Getting smoked 7-0, because the Avs did by Vegas final Saturday, just isn’t nice for the ability rating. They’d additionally misplaced three of 4 by shutout. Hard to determine, however the guess right here is it’s only a bump within the street.
8. Los Angeles Kings – They could be on the high of the rankings if they might play all their video games on the street. At 6-0, they’re the one undefeated street warriors within the league. The Kings boast a terrific 1-2-3 punch down the center.
9. Detroit Red Wings – The Wings can warmth up rapidly, as we noticed each within the loss in Boston and of their win over the B’s at Little Caesars. They’re a bit too reliant on the ability play for his or her offense, and so they took a couple of dives on Saturday to get these man benefits.
10. Florida Panthers – The Cats stay a troublesome staff that offers you little respiration house, forcing you into turnovers. They’re treading water proper now as they wait for 2 of their finest defensemen (Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour) to return from harm, however they are going to be a ache within the spring.
11. Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs have been proper on the fringe of the cliff on Monday earlier than erasing a three-goal lead and coming again to beat Tampa. The strengths and weaknesses of this staff haven’t modified. And the weaknesses will hold them from reaching the mountaintop.
12. Carolina Hurricanes – To compound a disappointing begin, the Canes now have an unsettling well being difficulty (blood clotting downside) for No. 1 goalie Freddy Andersen to take care of. The return of Tony DeAngelo (minus-7) hasn’t been a contented one and the signing of Dmitry Orlov (minus-8) has but to pay dividends.
13. Tampa Bay Lightning – It was a nasty loss in Toronto, however the Bolts have been retaining their head above water whereas Andrei Vasilevskiy recuperates from again surgical procedure. He’s anticipated to be again simply after Thanksgiving, in order that they’ve put themselves in a great place to make a run as soon as he returns. They, too, are overly reliant on particular groups.
14. Anaheim Ducks – New coach Greg Cronin added some accountability to the younger expertise and – voila! – the Ducks are successful video games. Who is aware of if this could final, however they’ve overwhelmed some good groups, together with the Bruins and Golden Knights.
15. New York Islanders – Nothing fancy or in the least thrilling concerning the Islanders. They have been giving up 2.70 objectives a recreation, and scoring 2.70 objectives a recreation. Perfectly mediocre, but they’re successful greater than shedding.
16. Winnipeg Jets – The Jets have been pleased to have the ability to lock up Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck long-term and that’s comprehensible, given the issue in attracting high-end free brokers. But signing your personal gamers, irrespective of how good they’re, with out including doesn’t do a lot to push your staff ahead.
17. Montreal Canadiens – More aggressive than anticipated, thanks partially to a resurgent Sean Monahan. Whether the Habs could make a severe push for the playoffs stays to be seen, however the matches with the B’s – we’ll see two within the subsequent 10 days – must be spicier than they’ve been within the final couple of seasons.
18. St. Louis Blues – The Blues, with out a lot of a tangible id, aren’t scoring a lot (2.40) however aren’t giving up a lot (2.70). They’re caught within the center, with no seen path to a better station.
19. Washington Capitals – Another staff that appears to be on a gradual decline, which has not been helped with Nick Backstrom not capable of regain his desired stage of play after hip surgical procedure.
20. Arizona Coyotes – The ‘Yotes are successful and shedding on the identical charge as groups just like the Caps and Blues, however they’re an ascendant staff with some younger expertise like Logan Cooley and Matias Maccelli.
21. Philadelphia Flyers – As anticipated, the Flyers are a more durable out in John Tortorella’s second season. But after a robust begin, they’ve slowly been regressing.
22. Nashville Predators – Juuse Saros can hold them in most video games and Ryan O’Reilly has added a bit spark. Like the Islanders, the Preds surrender (2.91) as a lot as they put up (2.91).
23. Buffalo Sabres – This just isn’t the place we anticipated the Sabres to be with all of the younger expertise that they’ve. But it’s arduous to learn to win whenever you’ve been shedding for therefore lengthy. No counting them out simply but.
24. Pittsburgh Penguins – The Erik Karlsson Experience hasn’t moved the needle with regards to successful and shedding but. We’ll see if it ever does. Maybe the 10-spot they have been capable of put in opposition to the Sharks will assist proper the ship.
25. Minnesota Wild – The Wild must be higher and so they could but be. But whenever you surrender extra for than 4 objectives a recreation, you’re not going to win constantly.
26. Ottawa Senators – The feeling right here is that D.J. Smith is an efficient coach. But after the GM was proven the door by new possession, it appears like Smith is dangling in an untenable state of affairs .The Sens can nonetheless flip this round, but when it doesn’t occur rapidly, Smith could pay the worth.
27. Seattle Kraken – Matty Beniers has been cursed with a sophomore droop (no objectives by 12 video games) and the Kraken, final yr’s Cinderella staff, are paying the worth for it.
28. Columbus Blue Jackets – Pascal Vincent is educating some robust classes, benching even the Jackets’ finest gamers. Time will inform if that produces extra wins down the street.
29. Chicago Blackhawks – The Hawks shall be within the lottery once more, however there hasn’t been an acceptance of shedding and the Connor Bedard-led Hawks have scored some wins in opposition to good groups.
30. Edmonton Oilers – Far and away the largest disappointment of the primary month, the Oilers are too proficient to not get again within the combine. But it could take some damaged eggs like a training change to get there.
31. Calgary Flames – Feels like a couple of key gamers have a foot out the door.
32. San Jose Sharks – The 1974-75 Washington Capitals went 8-67-5. The Sharks may threaten that mark.