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Every year, we put too much weight into the early season results of teams, and then, if we bloggers had any shame, would feel silly about how excited we got about some team’s record after only a couple of weeks of hockey. I’m sorry, we’re just really excited about hockey.
That said, if you look at last season, there is always going to be a team like the Islanders who were able to start hot and stay hot enough to secure a second seed and win a round in the playoffs. But for every NYI there is an STL, whose start didn’t reflect their finish.
There are presently five teams that have spots in the playoffs, if the season were to end today that were not there last season. Let’s rank them 5 to 1 over who has the best chance of sustaining this early run of fortune.
5 – Detroit Red Wings – I think that even Red Wings fans would admit that their early season success probably can’t be sustained. It’s too proud a franchise to be down forever, but they are rebuilding and know that they aren’t fully assembled yet.
4 – Anaheim Ducks – This has less to do with the Ducks than it does to do with a stacked Western Conference. There are no teams from the Central on the list of teams that missed last year… everyone is looking to return, and most of the Pacific is back, save for the Ducks and the next team on this list
3 – Edmonton Oilers – Not only do they still have Connor McDavid, but they have a whole slew of emerging talent that may finally be gelling. Most most importantly, it seems, is that they have an extremely pissed off James Neal, and always drags his team to the playoffs.
2 – Buffalo Sabres – The Sabres are similar to the Oilers, in that they have young talent, like Jack Eichel that is coalescing, and a newfound superstar acting as a sparkplug in Jeff Skinner. The difference is that the Atlantic looks like it might be a bit cringeworthy this year
1 – New York Rangers – The Rangers spent big on the roster in the offseason and have been scoring with abandon. Even better for this team, they have played half as many games as everyone else, and they are still in third. Mika Zibanejad is leading the team in scoring, and it appears that Artemi Panarin is settling in quite nicely.
For what it’s worth, right now, the Islanders are sitting outside of the playoff picture.