I too feel it is early, but in certain cases the early results are very telling. The Toronto Maple Leafs lost their first two home games and were booed skating off the ice. A disgruntled fan threw a sweater on the ice to express his displeasure. Two games in is a little early, but the Leaf fans have had enough and were hoping the team would show immediate signs of a turnaround.
It is not going to happen.
The 1A and 1B goaltending situation never works. The Montreal Canadiens started with four games on the road and won the first three. They are a good team, but not great as they showed in Tampa. They will make the playoffs on the strength of Carey Price’s goaltending and the offence of Pacioretty, Plekanec and PK Subban. There are very few teams who have that star defenceman who can play 25 to 30 minutes and be part of the power play and penalty kill.
Winnipeg will struggle to make the playoffs in the tough Central Division and Western Conference. They will have trouble scoring goals and now they are missing Evander Kane. Mark Schiefle and Jacob Trouba are going to be stars, but their goaltending is not going to be good enough to make up for their lack of scoring.
Ottawa will scratch and claw its way to contender status and if Erik Karlsson wins the Norris and Craig Anderson stands on his head they will have a chance. They have won two of three on the road to start the season have only allowed five goals against.
Calgary is in the toughest division in the league and has improved, but still is two defencemen and a center away. Johnny Hockey is not enough for this team to make the playoffs.
The Oilers are still a few years away which is too bad. They have improved by getting bigger and more experienced on the blueline. Nikitin and Fayne will help on the backend and Pouliot and Purcell will help up front, but both of their goalies have never been number ones. The Oil are due to make the playoffs, but it will not happen this year.
The Canucks have a very, very small sample size, but let’s look at the results. The Canucks finished with 83 points and missed the playoffs last year. Henrik and Daniel Sedin went from point-a-game, dominant players to half-a-point-a-game players who looked tired and confused. Their power play was predictable and inept. Alex Burrows was playing in March before he scored his first goal. Their defence was lost. They have now won their first two games. The Sedins have four points each. Radim Vrbata, brought in to play with Henrik and Daniel, has a goal in both games. Burrows has a goal and a point in both games. Zach Kassian missed the first five games last year due to suspension and has scored already. Linden Vey and Nick Bonino, brought in to replace Ryan Kesler, have both scored. Their power play is 3-for-10. Ryan Miller is 2-0 and has won a shootout.
I am not looking at this after one week through rose coloured glasses. The Canucks are in tough in the Pacific Division. LA, Anaheim and San Jose are very good teams, but the Canucks have shown through training camp and now through the first week of the season that they will be there in the spring and they can get back to that status they had just two years ago.