We’ve already looked at three NHL teams who are exceeding expectations, now let’s look at some who aren’t. We’re about a month into the season now, and there are teams who frankly, we had higher hopes for. Teams who’ve made the right moves but are falling short in the standings.
The Metropolitan division has long provided some of the stronger teams in the NHL; and Carl’s fomer bandwagon team, the Washington Capitals have dominated the division in the last two seasons. Well known for imploding during Cup runs, the three-time Presidents’ Trophy winner seem to have started their collapse early this season.
The Caps aren’t the worst team in the Metro, but having won just 6 of 16 games is disappointingly poor by the team’s usual high standards. The same parts are all in place, team captain Alex Ovechkin has 10 goals to his name, including two hat tricks. Ovi, has 15 points to his name, as does Evgeny Kuznetsov, while Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie are both in double digits for points.
Aside from Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, the Caps’ opening schedule hasn’t exactly been grueling, but to concede eight goals to the Flyers and six to the Canucks? Something is broken in the system. Defensively the Caps are in a bad place, they’ve allowed more 408 shots on goal, higher than the league average, and conceded more power play goals than the league average too. 13 games’ worth of stats are showing that the 3rd and 4th offensive lines need to up their game defensively, as they’re allowing too many goals.
Can the Caps snap out of this mire? Of course. It might be a reshuffle with the lines, or a callup from the Hershey Bears, but something needs to change as the current roster just isn’t cutting the mustard.
New York Rangers
For a team that made the Stanley Cup Finals 4 seasons ago, the Rangers haven’t been considered an actual contender for some time now. That said, the team is usually handy during the regular season. The Rangers are making a poor show of the seasons so far though and are currently second to last in the Metro division, only Carl’s ‘Canes have a worse record.
The season started badly for New York when the Avalanche and Maple Leafs scored a combined 12 goals against them in the their first two games. The struggling Habs fell 2-0 in game three, but it took a win over Nashville to snap a 5 game losing streak. The team also has the worst record on the road, having lost all three games played away from home. Puck posession is definitely an issue, only six players (who’ve played more than eight games) have a positive Corsi For Percentage. None of the opposition faced so far have been able to shut-out the Rangers and with 42 goals scored; the team’s offensive performances are better than the standings would indicate.
Alain Vigneault has made changes to the team’s lines in an attempt to move away from the pure offence – no defense stance that the team is currently and unintentionally taking. Looking at Thursday night’s hard-fought OT win against the league leaders Tampa Bay, it might be that these changes are moving the team in the right direction.
Over in the Pacific division, the Oilers are having a rotten time of it. With 11 games played; the Oilers are second bottom in the division and the league, with just 9 points.
There is more to the Edmonton Oilers than just Connor McDavid, but we’re still waiting to see exactly what it is. The team that last season finished second in the division, are currently struggling to find points. If it wasn’t for the reliably unreliable Coyotes, the Oilers would be languishing at the bottom of the Pacific division. Goals are difficult to come by, nobody has more than five to their name.
McDavid’s 20 year old shoulders (and 13 points) can only carry the team so much, but the Oilers need to pony up for a plumber, because the team are leaking goals at a rate only the Coyotes can beat. Aside from the team’s opening game where the Flames were shut out, Edmonton have conceded at least two goals in every game. This trend, along with the reliance on #97 has to change if the team wants to bring some back some of the magic of last season.