The first week of the NHL season is completed as teams start to get the early season jitters out of the way. Heading into Week 2, the top of the Overtime Heroics’ NHL Power Rankings list is fairly stagnant so far (aside from the Edmonton Oilers goaltending shifting things around) but there is a ton of movement in the bottom half of the league.
Though it’s only been a couple of games for each team, the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning might have gotten off to a slower start than desired. For teams as good as these two are, anything short of undefeated with a sizable positive goal differential is disappointing.
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins are teams to keep an eye on moving forward. Both teams have an offense that is off to a hot start, with four goals per game for the Rangers and six for the Penguins. With the Rangers, this was sort of expected based off their performance last season. Led by Artemi Panarin (six points in three games) and Mika Zibanejad (four points), this is an exciting team that could take the league by storm very quickly.
Moving over to the Detroit Red Wings, they were one of the teams in a bit of a prediction limbo state heading into the season. They made a ton of huge moves and plays in the offseason to show they are getting ready to compete. But with no track record of success and a lot of unproven depth and chemistry on the roster, it was hard to gauge how they would perform. Now, two games in, two wins on the books, and only two goals against indicate they might be a surprise competitor for a playoff spot in the East.
Do Sharks Hibernate?
Expectations were low for the Sharks this season as they get left behind in the Pacific Division but they are still managing to be a disappointment after going 0-4 with just six goals for to start the season. The biggest names in the team’s forward group, Logan Couture, Timo Meier, and Tomas Hertl, have a combined two goals and four points. The Sharks have very little forward depth past them so if those three are struggling and off to a slow start, the rest of the team will follow.
Chalk it up to the aforementioned early season jitters but the team is prone to crucial giveaways, is sloppy with the puck, and gives up a lot of scoring chances without being able to capitalize on their own.
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The goaltending tandem of James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen has been a mixed bag. The former has a decent stat line, with a 2.56 GAA and .924 SV%. But it doesn’t matter how good the goalie is when the team is only scoring one and a half goals per game. The latter has been underwhelming in a big way, with a 4.14 GAA and .814 SV%. He has to be better if he is to stick around on the Sharks roster.
Slow Starts Still Plague the Edmonton Oilers
This has been an issue for the Oilers for years. Slow starts in games. It became a joke that the team might as well start down 1-0 at the opening puck drop since they were likely to give up a goal within the first couple of minutes anyway. And that trend is continuing so far this season.
In both of their games so far, Edmonton has given up a goal within the first two minutes. It is baffling how, after so many years, so many coaches, and so many different players on the roster, this is still an issue that seems to affect them so much compared to other teams.
Heading into the season, the Oilers had a few key storylines to watch for. One of them was how their goaltending would play out. Big free agent signing Jack Campbell was supposed to be the team’s number one goalie, and he is being paid to do so, but so far, he has been entirely disappointing. In 70 minutes of ice time (he was pulled ten minutes into the second game of the season), he has given up seven goals. His goals-against average is just shy of six, and a save percentage of .851.
The team in front of Campbell is not doing him any favours, either. The defense is scrambly, and the giveaways and missed assignments are costing the team high-danger chances and goals against. But a goalie on a team that wants to compete has to be able to make momentum-changing saves. It seems that the Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending issues which were thought to be reasonably solved, might still be a problem.
The John Tortorella Effect in Action
The Philadelphia Flyers were another team with little to no expectations on them to start the season. Their projections had mostly been a laughingstock over the offseason, leading many to question why someone like John Tortorella would agree to take a job with the team.
And in the leadup to the season, things escalated as Tortorella was not afraid to be completely blunt about what he saw in this team. For example, openly saying he has concerns about the team’s locker room culture. Or saying he doesn’t think the team is good at anything. Not what you want to hear out of a coach.
But two games into the season, the Flyers are 2-0 with eight goals for and four goals against. Not what was expected on a team with very little depth and ongoing goaltending issues.
This has been a bit of a trend with teams coached by John Tortorella, especially in his days with the Columbus Blue Jackets, where he can take a team and get them to overperform for a year or two. Is the Flyers’ early success a result of that? Or is it just a couple of games against similarly weak teams in the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks?
Who do you think is poised to make a huge jump in the rankings? Is the Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending already a cause for concern? Drop a comment down below!
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