Not many expected the standings to look the way they do right now. Besides the Predators, Lightning and Maple Leafs being a top the standings, the rest of the top-10 has some unexpected teams in it.
(6) Vancouver Canucks: 9-6-0; 18 points
- What has been the Canucks reason for success? Well we know the answer is obvious they are getting supplemental scoring along with decent goaltending. The two biggest reasons the Canucks have struggled for so long is due to not enough depth scoring and inconsistent goaltending. Now, through 15 games the Canucks are ranked 9th in goals for (46) and 6th in goals against (50) but they also rank 19th in goals for per game (3.07), 16th in power play percentage (20.4) and 29th in shots on goal per game (26.9). The Canucks shoot the puck on net the least among all teams besides three, they have a decent power play percentage, rank in the middle to low end of the pack in terms of goals for per game. Along with the fact they are a team that allows a ton of goals against, essentially the only way the Canucks continue this performance is if Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen can continue on this reign of doing all the heavy lifting for Vancouver. Along with the fact Jacob Markstrom and Andres Nilsson can continue to be a solid two-goalie tandem. Right now the Canucks are performing at an extremely unbelievable rate that is destined to fall apart soon. They have 5 players who do all the offensive work for them, with Boeser, Horvat 11 points and Pettersson’s 15 points the next guy up is Markus Granlund with 6 points. It will be tough for Vancouver to continue down this path, I personally do not see this being sustained all year.
(7) Edmonton Oilers: 8-4-1; 17 points
- After a disappointing 2017-18 season the Oilers made it clear in the offseason they
were not going to let that happen again. Although they did not acquire many players to their team, they have come out the gate flying looking like a team on a mission. Of course their success comes from the one and only Connor McDavid. McDavid has 21 points in 13 games, 9 goals and 12 assists, after McDavid comes Leon Draisaitl’s 14 points in 13 games and Ryan Nugent Hopkins(RNH) 14 points in 13 games. Aside from McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH the Oilers next line of production is Tobias Rieder with 7 points(7 assists), Alex Chiasson and Oscar Klefbom who also have 6 points(6 assists) and Drake Caggiula who has 5 points(5 goals). The Oilers have very little secondary scoring after McDavid and Draisaitl which is a big concern and was a big issue for them last season. On top of that the Oilers rank 20th in goals for(40) but also 8th in goals against(34), they average just above 3 goals a game while allowing just under 3 goals against. The Oilers are like many teams seeing great production from three players right now, it is early and will these guys continue? We can all guarantee McDavid will, Draisaitl is good for 80 points, can Ryan Nugent Hopkins come out of his shell and break out? Potentially he can but it is not a guarantee obviously. Other than that Cam Talbot will need to pick up his play a tad and find a way to bring back his 2016-17 self to help the Oilers continue on this trend. Personally I see this as a possibility, I see the Oilers falling off around the All-Star break though, bubble playoff team.
(8) New York Islanders: 8-4-1; 17 points
- As we all know the big question for the Islanders coming into the year was what are they going to be able to do without John Tavares? Well it seems they have answered that question pretty nicely through the first 13 games. The Islanders have seen distribution of production across the board leading the team is Josh Bailey with 15 points, then captain Anders Lee with 13 points, sophomore Matt Barzal with 12 points, Brock Nelson with 9 points, three guys with 7 points and two guys with 6 points. They rank 16th in the goals for category among the league with 41 goals and have the second lowest goal against among all NHL teams. They average around 3.15 goals for and 2.31 goals against, their power play is ranked 13th (22.5). On top of it all their goaltending has been much better, Thomas Greiss has a 1.85 goals against in 6 games started and a .944 save percentage along with Robin Lehner’s 2.45 goals against in 7 games started and .928 save percentage. The Islanders are certainly the opposite of what they were last year, they are actually playing defense, getting support from their goalies and not blowing leads. Many may overlook the Islanders with no John Tavares but it seems as if the players they have now are out to prove something. Plus with a tough Metropolitan division the Islanders can go one of two ways this season middle of the pack or a playoff team. The Islanders are a team that will compete with their divisional opponents and raise their level of play when it comes to other Metropolitan/Atlantic division teams. It is now staying consistent for the Islanders all year round, not just three months. I see the Islanders sustaining this and being a big surprise to many.