DAB Around the NHL: Week 1

Graphic showing all teams in the NHL
-image from nhl.com

Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey

Welcome everyone to DAB Around the League. While the New Jersey Devils are a primary focus of this site and blog, there are many fans around the league who are not just fans of their respective teams but fans of the league in general. This article aims to recap each week of the season through a variety of different topics. Let’s start breaking down week 1 of the NHL regular season. Welcome back hockey!

Power Rankings

Before I start listing these power rankings I want to note that these rankings are completely my own and based on my own opinion. Second, I aim to try and make this series with publication on Wednesdays every week. Since this is coming out a couple of days late, I will not be including games from Wednesday or Thursday night.

31 – San Jose Sharks

29 – Minnesota Wild

27 – New Jersey Devils

25 – Los Angeles Kings

23 – Chicago Blackhawks

21 – Philadelphia Flyers

19 – Winnipeg Jets

17 – Vancouver Canucks

15 – Tampa Bay Lightning

13 – Detroit Red Wings

11 – New York Rangers

9 – Washington Capitals

7 – Nashville Predators

5 – Boston Bruins

3 – Carolina Hurricanes

1 – Vegas Golden Knights

30 – Ottawa Senators

28 – Arizona Coyotes

26 – Columbus Blue Jackets

24 – Dallas Stars

22 – Pittsburgh Penguins

20 – New York Islanders

18 – Florida Panthers

16 – Montreal Canadiens

14 – Calgary Flames

12 – Anaheim Ducks

10 – Edmonton Oilers

8 – Colorado Avalanche

6 – Toronto Maple Leafs

4 – Buffalo Sabres

2 – St. Louis Blues

Some notes on my power rankings here include the fact that I do not care how talented the roster should be, you need to win games that you should win and not be embarrassed…With that said, teams who maybe have lost some games but were close and still have a talented roster did factor in a little bit. The three teams that have really surprised me in my power rankings with how high I have them are the Edmonton Oilers, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Detroit Red Wings.

Who is Hot

Nino Niederreiter scores for the Hurricanes
Nino Niederreiter has been brilliant so far in his Hurricanes career. (Walter Tychnowicz/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Carolina Hurricanes

Whether Carolina was losing a game before battling back to win in overtime, or dominating for much of a game and earning a win, the Hurricanes are one of the top teams in the league. Many expected Carolina to continue to be competitive but to this level was unexpected. Time will tell if this is just a flash in the pan or the real deal. Devils fans can easily attest to from last season when the Devils started out 4-0 after making the playoffs the year prior before going on to select Jack Hughes first overall in the NHL Draft this past June.

Oilers celebrate a goal – (Photo Credit : The Canadian Press)

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers are a team that was clearly labeled as a team in the midst of a rebuild under new general manager Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippet. The Oilers have gotten out to a 3-0 start to their season, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl leading the way. On top of their play is the re-emergence of forward James Neal. Neal had a very bad year last season, which lead to the trade between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers where the Oilers acquired Neal in exchange for forward Milan Lucic.

The Oilers recently destroyed the New York Islanders in New York, with Neal registering four goals in the game and none of which came on an empty net. This looks to be a bounce-back season for Neal, which is not too surprising given the history if you think about it. Before going to the Calgary Flames last season, Neal went to the Stanley Cup Final two summers in a row, once with the Vegas Golden Knights and once with the Nashville Predators. That is two off-seasons in a row where Neal did not receive a full off-season like many other players to recover from the bumps and bruises throughout the season.

Victor Olofsson scores a goal and celebrates (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bryan Bennett)

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have been very dominant to start the season including a 7-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. So many players on Buffalo have been impressive to start the season, from Eichel to Skinner to Oloffson to Dahlin. Granted Buffalo had a tremendous start to their season last year before completely imploding, the Sabres seem to be a force to be reckoned with in the Atlantic Division.

The biggest key for the Sabres will more than likely be the play of Carter Hutton and if he can be consistent between the pipes. Outside of goaltending, if the Sabres can keep pace with the juggernauts in the Atlantic Division known as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins, they may end up as a wild card team but a very dangerous one at that.

Who is Not

Devils skating off the ice (Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett of Getty Images)

New Jersey Devils

Where the heck are the Devils from the preseason? Where the heck are the Devils who added P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, John Hayden, and Wayne Simmonds? Where the heck are the Devils that are supposed to be competitive this year in order for Taylor Hall to sign long term? If you are not a Devils fan and wanted some insight into the typical fans thought process right now and what we are stressing over, here you go!

The Devils were everything we expected them to be when they were scoring to build a 4-0 lead on the Winnipeg Jets but since then, the wheels have been falling off and fans are already in a state of nervousness and panic only two games into the season at 0-1-1 (Remember, this week’s review is last Wednesday to this Tuesday, it does not include the frustrating losses to the Philadelphia Flyers or Edmonton Oilers).

Cory Schneider has been good throughout the pre-season but ended up scaring the entire fan base into thinking our season was already facing major adversity with him sustaining a major injury. But thankfully it was just cramping that forced him out of the first game, though the adversity would still come. The Devils need to figure out their game and quickly. It really is not overstating it to say the long term future of the Devils is on the line this season.

Erik Karlsson – (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw of Getty Images)

San Jose Sharks

San Jose was definitely not expected to start out 0-4-0, but Martin Jones struggling to start the season, on top of San Jose not scoring much, will never be a winning combination. The Sharks were without Evander Kane for the first couple of games of the season, including both against the Vegas Golden Knights which certainly did not help their cause. Erik Karlsson also missed the opening game of the season but thankfully it was because he and his wife had a baby girl.

We learned that Vegas absolutely has San Jose’s number and definitely holds a grudge about what happened in last year’s playoffs. The Sharks were expected to be a top team in the Pacific Division and Western Conference this year but an 0-4 start was definitely not a part of that expectation.

Sidney Crosby - (Photo Credit: Peter Diana of Post-Gazette)
Sidney Crosby – (Photo Credit: Peter Diana of Post-Gazette)

Pittsburgh Penguins

I have not been very high on the Penguins since before the season started and I still stick to my prediction of the Penguins being a Wild Card team AT BEST. We saw last year how the Penguins were basically carried to the playoffs by Sidney Crosby which was why I believed he deserved the award for league MVP last season.

The bottom line is that when Pittsburgh sputtered out last year, they were in a position with a certain amount of games left that Crosby could carry the team to the playoffs. To ask him to do the same in a full season will not happen and if you do not believe me, go ahead and ask Oilers fans how the playoffs have been the past couple years with McDavid carrying the team the whole season to get there. (Spoiler alert, it did not go well).

Pittsburgh is also right up against the cap, which is not good when you have key pieces from your lineup injured with longer-term injuries such as a guy named Evgeni Malkin. And I have never really been sold on Matt Murray myself, either. Pittsburgh recently went up 1-0 against Winnipeg in their home opener in the first couple minutes of the game, with the goal coming off the stick of Crosby. The Penguins then allowed Winnipeg to score four straight goals and lost the game. Pittsburgh is not the big bad wolf anymore in the Metropolitan Division, at least not right now.

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos celebrate scoring emphatically

Tampa Bay Lightning

I was kind of torn between including Tampa Bay on the list of not hot, and that is because they are not necessarily doing horrible compared to other teams around the league. But much like the Sharks, they are not performing at the level to which anyone expected them to. Steven Stamkos recently came out and mentioned his frustrations publicly by challenging his teammates. Out of these four teams listed in the not hot section, Tampa will more than likely bounce back to their dominant form. There is no reason to have the panic button anywhere in sight with Tampa unlike New Jersey, San Jose, or Pittsburgh.

Fantasy hockey image - (image credit to nhl.com)
Fantasy hockey image – (image credit to nhl.com)

Top Fantasy Players of the Week

CentersWingersDefensemanGoalies
1 – Mika Zibanejad (NYR) (C)1 – James Neal (EDM) (LW/RW)1 – Drew Doughty (LAK) 1 – John Gibson (ANA)
2 – Jack Eichel (BUF) (C)2 – Anthony Mantha (DET) (LW/RW)2 – Jaccob Slavin (CAR)2 – Carter Hart (PHI)
3 – Auston Matthews (TOR) (C)3 – Reilly Smith (VGK) (RW)3 – Dougie Hamilton (CAR)3 – Jaroslav Halak (BOS)
4 – Connor McDavid (EDM) (C)4 – Mike Hoffman (FLA) (LW/RW)4 – Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)4 – Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK)
5 – Erik Haula (CAR) (C/LW)5 – Roope Hintz (DAL) (C/LW)5 – John Carlson (WSH)5 – Carter Hutton (BUF)
6 – Jordan Staal (CAR) (C)6 – Mark Stone (VGK) (RW)6 – Alex Pietrangelo (STL)6 – David Rittich (CGY)
7 – Leon Draisaitl (EDM) (C/LW)7 – Victor Olofsson (BUF) (LW/RW)7 – Cody Ceci (TOR)7 – James Reimer (CAR)
8 – Mark Scheifele (WPG) (C)8 – Sammy Blais (STL) (LW/RW)8 – Jacob Trouba (WPG)8 – Jordan Binnington (STL)
9 – Sean Monahan (CGY) (C)9 – Mikko Rantanen (COL) (RW)9 – Ryan Ellis (NSH)9 – Tuukka Rask (BOS)
10 – Dylan Larkin (DET) (C)10 – T.J. Oshie (WSH) (RW)10 – Ivan Provorov (PHI)10 – Pekka Rinne (NSH)

Upcoming Matchups this Week

Wednesday, October 9th (ALREADY OCCURRED)

  • New Jersey Devils vs Philadephia Flyers
  • Montreal Canadiens vs Buffalo Sabres
  • Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings on October 9th

Friday, October 11th

  • Florida Panthers vs Buffalo Sabres
  • New York Islanders vs Carolina Hurricanes
  • Anaheim Ducks vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Saturday, October 12th

  • Toronto Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers vs New York Islanders
  • Columbus Blue Jackets vs Carolina Hurricanes
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs Winnipeg Jets
  • Calgary Flames vs Vegas Golden Knights
  • Tampa Bay Lightning vs Ottawa Senators
  • New Jersey Devils vs Boston Bruins
  • Edmonton Oilers vs New York Rangers
  • Nashville Predators vs Los Angeles Kings
  • St. Louis Blues vs Montreal Canadiens
  • Washington Capitals vs Dallas Stars
  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs Minnesota Wild
  • Arizona Coyotes vs Colorado Avalanche
  • Philadelphia Flyers vs Vancouver Canucks

Tuesday, October 15th

  • Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens
  • Minnesota Wild vs Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Arizona Coyotes vs Winnipeg Jets
  • Philadelphia Flyers vs Calgary Flames
  • Detroit Red Wings vs Vancouver Canucks
  • Nashville Predators vs Vegas Golden Knights
  • Carolina Hurricanes vs Los Angeles Kings

Thursday, October 10th (ALREADY OCCURRED)

  • Tampa Bay Lightning vs Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Washington Capitals vs Nashville Predators
  • Minnesota Wild vs Winnipeg Jets
  • Boston Bruins vs Colorado Avalanche
  • Edmonton Oilers vs New Jersey Devils
  • Detroit Red Wings vs Montreal Canadiens
  • Anaheim Ducks vs Pittsburgh Penguins
  • St. Louis Blues vs Ottawa Senators
  • San Jose Sharks vs Chicago Blackhawks
  • Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars
  • Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes

Sunday, October 13th

  • Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings
  • Calgary Flames vs San Jose Sharks
  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs Winnipeg Jets

Monday, October 14th

  • Florida Panthers vs New Jersey Devils
  • Anaheim Ducks vs Boston Bruins
  • Minnesota Wild vs Ottawa Senators
  • St. Louis Blues vs New York Islanders
  • Dallas Stars vs Buffalo Sabres
  • Colorado Avalanche vs Washington Capitals
  • Edmonton Oilers vs Chicago Blackhawks

Standings

Images of the standings come from nhl.com and reflect the standings as of the end of Wednesday, October 9th games.

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