I figured this would be a great time to freak some Devils, Blues, Vegas and Florida fans out, upset, anger and annoy them with a great article! Seriously though, what is going on with the Golden Knights, Panthers and Blues? The Devils I am giving a half pass because they have played 2-3 less games then some teams but either way they just lost to Ottawa 7-3, not a good look.
(26) New Jersey Devils: 6-6-1; 13 points
Very early in the year and the Devils just played a back to back but it is not a start many Devil fans would like to see especially since they came storming out the gate 4-0-1 and have since as you can tell cooled off. The Devils had a miraculous year last season, a surprise season for many fans. But, now since they have been successful they are expected to do the same thing again. Should we expect that from them though? Apart from their top line of Palmieri-Hischier-Hall they do not have a lot of scoring depth those three produce around 85% of the teams points and lead team in scoring. After those three’s 16, 15 and 12 point totals the next in line is Travis Zajac with 10 points who honestly we can be realistic here will be good for 40 points at most. After that is Demon Severson and Will Butcher with 8 points, Brian Boyle with 7 points(3 coming the other night), Sami Vatanen with 7 points and Blake Coleman with 5 points. Therefore out of these top guys, four forwards clearly do the heavy lifting, three defenseman chip in every once in a while and then after that there is a dramatic fall off. Not to mention Will Butcher has 7 power play points of his 8 points, therefore 5 on 5 Butcher is nearly irrelevant besides playing defensively. So, unless the Devils bank on 2-3 power plays a game Butcher is not good for much production. Hall will have to produce 90+ again, Palmieri will need to continue on this trend while his career high is 57 points, Hischier will need to also break his last season total and be in the 60 point range. Keith Kinkaid will need to continue his unbelievable play, there is a lot of moving parts here for this Devils team but there is also a lot of what ifs. They play in a relatively weaker Metropolitan division therefore it should not be too hard for the team, but I could see the Devils missing the playoffs this season.
(27) St. Louis Blues: 5-5-3; 13 points
The Blues certainly had different expectations for this season, after acquiring Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and David Perron and now Robby Fabbri back healthy the Blues should definitely be higher in the standings. Yet, they find themselves looking up from the bottom. The biggest crutch to this team has been their goaltending. Jake Allen has a 3.99 goals against, .879 save percentage. Plus their back up, not taking credit away from the guy but it’s Chad Johnson can he be the same player as Carter Hutton? I don’t think so. On the year he has two starts a 2.47 GAA and .919 save percentage. Yes, it is early but the worse you start out the harder it is to climb yourself out come the All-Star break. The Blues have seen a different type of Ryan O’Reilly to start the year leading the team with 19 points and 12 assists but also they do get secondary scoring (how could they not?), Tarasenko has 13 points, Schenn has 9 points, Perron has 12 points, two players have 8 points and 3 players have seven points. They get depth scoring but if they do not find something to do with Jake Allen and get some help in the goaltending department it will be a disappointing year for the Blues. I think with how competitive the Central is it will be near impossible for the Blues to crack a top three spot, wild card is their only option come playoff time.
(28) Vegas Golden Knights 6-8-1; 13 points
Not how the Golden Knights expected this season to start, maybe they are coming down to earth and playing at the level many thought they were going to be at. I mean they have Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty, Paul Statsny, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Alex Tuch and Erik Haula. But injuries have been the major problem for this team. They have dealt with Pacioretty, Statsny and Tuch on the IR and now Haula got hurt Tuesday vs Toronto and the Golden Knights continue dig a deep hole. Like I said before once you dig the hole deeper and deeper it is hard to get out come All-Star break time. The Golden Knights will need to a surge of production once they have everyone healthy and not playing five-road games. Marchessault and Karlsson are the only ones with 10+ points on the team which concerning. Like I said the hole is getting deeper and deeper, and in a Pacific division right now with a hot Edmonton team and Calgary team it will be catch up time for Vegas if they do not come out of this road trip either splitting it or taking 3 of 4 games. They already dropped one… I think the Golden Knights will be playing catch up all season and will miss the playoffs.
(31) Florida Panthers: 3-5-3; 9 points
What the heck happened with Florida? Although they did something like this last year, 31st? That is bad and not easy to bounce out of. When you are in a funk it is tough to get out of that funk, it feels endlessly and that’s how the Panthers feel right now. They have played just 9 games cause of the Global Series games but they head home for three games then hit the road for 2-weeks (6 games). This is going to be a good test for Florida. They may do the same thing they did last year, chase all year and be a borderline playoff team come April. They should be much better considering who is in their division but with a hot Montreal and Buffalo team the Panthers have some work to do and do it quick. They need to walk away with 2 of 3 wins on this homestand to get some confidence back, they have the scoring and forwards upfront to be a top contender but it is tough after playing two Global Series games in different countries and all that traveling. I predict the Panthers wake up in mid-November and chase all year.