The week three power rankings were never released because I got sick, so I will forget that and put out this special feature instead. This will tide us over to next week where we will do a week five power rankings and get back on schedule. Starting next week I will get back to releasing the rankings every Friday moving forward. And I will continue to put out report cards monthly. So without any further ado lets hop in and see where teams sit.
NOTE: Brandon Houston was gracious enough to help me with this report card, I thank him for his work on the Western Conference blurbs.
NHL October Report Card
Boston Bruins: The Bruins started off losing 7-0 to the Capitals and since then have been pretty solid. They are 6-2-2 since getting blown out in Washington with a +14 goal differential. One question right now for Boston is the goaltending, Jaroslav Halak has been much better than Tuukka Rask to this point. Will the Bruins put Halak as the starter?
New York Rangers: The Rangers are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference in what can only be described as a rebuilding year. I wonder if they get rid of Henrik Lundquist so he can chase a cup elsewhere. Time will tell.
New York Islanders: The Islanders are actually a nice surprise, they are not at the top of the standings but they are playing decent hockey. Which is surprising considering I think a lot of people expected them to be a bottom five team this year.
Montreal Canadiens: Speaking of bottom five teams, I thought Montreal had a real shot to get to that level. But they have been great so far and have been a pleasant surprise to this point. They’ve already beaten the Bruins which is something they failed to do all of last season.
Ottawa Senators: Ottawa is a tough team to gage. They are playing about .500 hockey and they seem to lack an identity regardless of that. I have no idea what this team is in store for. Will they start to pick it up, will they falter? Are they possibly just a .500 team? I can’t really figure it out. Though I expected them to be near the NHL basement when the season started they have been impressive wins over Toronto and Montreal under their belt. But they also have a 0-2 record versus Boston.
Florida Panthers: What the heck happened to the 96 point team from last season? The Panthers are a mess to this point. I can’t figure out what is going on. Thankfully that isn’t my job because I would be at a loss as to how they should fix this mess. The good news? They still have plenty of time to turn it around.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Tampa got off to a slowish start. But they have been great recently and they should be able to run through the Eastern Conference with relative ease. The Lightning are my pick to represent the Eastern Conference in the finals this season so I don’t see any issues for them moving forward. Though getting more out of Steven Stamkos would be nice. I am sure he will come around.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Not much can be said about the Maple Leafs that I have not already said. They may have the best offense in the NHL this year. The biggest worry for them should be defense, they are in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed. Not a good stat to have if you want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres have been what people expected them to be. They are one of the more improved teams in the league to this point thanks to their youth and ability. Last year the Sabres were a disaster but their lineup would have indicated that they were better than what they were showing on the ice. This year they could make the playoffs. I think the pool in the Eastern Conference is too deep to do any damage in the playoffs but to get there would be huge for the team moving forward.
Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins started the month out kind of slow but they have picked it up since then and finish October with a 6-2-2 record. They ended the month with a 6-3 loss to the Islanders but overall played really well scoring the most goals in the conference. I do wonder how much the injury to Matt Murray will play a role in their play moving forward.
Philadelphia Flyers: At what point do the Flyers stop blaming the goalies and take a look at their defense? Year after year they are plagued by lapses in the defensive end and they take it out on the poor goalies. At some point, they may want to look at their defense and make a move or two to shore up the back end. They have the scoring to hang with just about any team in the East if they put forth an effort to fix the mess on defense.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils have been solid even without starting goalie Corey Schneider in the fold. Kirk Kinkaid has been solid for the Devils making it hard for them to get the starting nod back to Schneider. Kinkaid, however, did get the start in Tampa on Tuesday and was shelled in what ultimately ended up being an 8-3 spanking to the Lightning. Possibly paving an opening for Schneider.
Detroit Red Wings: Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Detroit Red Wings, are the worst team in the league right now and it is hard to believe. Especially when I grew up in the 90’s with a hint of jealousy of the Red Wings because they were always great. This really is shocking to see and it is sad to see in a sense. But they will be back and stronger than ever I suspect. They already have building blocks to work with including Larkin and Mantha.
Washington Capitals: The Washington Capitals obliterated the Boston Bruins on opening night and looked like they were well on their way to running over the Eastern Conference again this season. But the truth is that the Capitals have been just above average so far this season. Which to say the least has been a surprise. I expect them to be fine and make another push in the playoffs come April.
Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago your main issue is defense. The offense is showing signs of life bolstered by the top line of Toews, Debrincat, and Kahun, and Corey Crawford is playing at midseason form but your defense is old and lacking in depth. You can still be competitive but if Crawford goes down again.
Nashville Predators: Despite injuries, the Predators currently lead the Central. Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros are turning in inspired performances in net, the question is can you get it done this year or will Rinne live up to his meme?
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are still a dangerous team that could make noise this postseason, but Hellebuyck is going to have to turn on the afterburners if they plan on going anywhere.
Edmonton Oilers: Other than McDavid and Draisaitl, and Lucic actually playing to part of what his contract is worth. There’s next to nothing here. You could actually go somewhere if a few things go right, but those contracts are going to be the death of you.
Minnesota Wild: Despite the solid start the Wild have had, this is more than likely the last real chance the Wild are going to have to go anywhere with the current team. I wouldn’t blow it up just yet but I’d get the dynamite ready.
Dallas Stars: I haven’t seen too many of your games but if Bishop stays healthy pencil the Stars in for a dogfight to make it to the playoffs.
Grade: B (but only just so)
Los Angeles Kings: The Kings have the same prognosis as the Wild, they’re running out of chances with this core. The Kings are in desperate need of youth to fill key and depth Roles.
Anaheim Ducks: I haven’t seen enough of you guys to make a full prognosis, but the injuries Anaheim has had to deal with certainly aren’t helping anything. John Gibson is going to have to put some heroic performances in if they plan on going anywhere.
San Jose Sharks: The majority of San Jose’s core is so far past its prime it’s not even funny. The Sharks have got one of the better defensive cores in the league but they need a lot of youth up front.
Arizona Coyotes: I thought the Coyotes were going to turn the corner this year. I was wrong. The games they have won were not convincing me that they can go somewhere. There’s promise here, but the Coyotes still need a lot of depth and the dead contracts they took on aren’t doing them any favors.
Vegas Golden Knights: Possible Stanley Cup hangover? Fleury has been the rock you needed but on paper, I thought the Golden Knights were going to go somewhere. They’ll probably still make it to the top of their division, or be in the running for it, but it’ll be a dogfight.
Vancouver Canucks: Nowhere for now, but when the Canucks’ prospects develop and gel they are going to be a threat.
Colorado Avalanche: Who knew Joe Sakic made the right move trading Duchene for a king’s ransom? Nathan Mackinnon’s line has carried this team back into relevance, nowhere near the late 90’s golden age but provided a bit more depth of front is added, the Avalanche’s could go places. Bolstering the defense wouldn’t hurt either.
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