In this week’s edition of power rankings, Minnesota drops out of the top five, while St. Louis vaults right into it. The weeks biggest shock though belongs to the Leafs who find themselves projected for a playoff spot for the first time.
The Kings continue their surprising struggles and the Devils fall 12 spots almost to McDavid territory, and boy wouldn’t that be the worst team possible to draft him.
The chart below is how things are shaking up this week.
Note: A previous version of this post used data from puckalytics.com which was experiencing bugs earlier. The rankings have been edited to reflect data from war-on-ice instead.
10 Thoughts on Rankings
1. The Penguins are a top five team in every category. Goals will come down to slightly above their possession levels, and as I wrote about at the Hockey News this week, their special teams is due for a significant regression. Despite that, there’s no doubt they’re the best team in the league.
2. The best possession team, Minnesota, isn’t translating that to wins (7-7 record), which is a surprise considering how much higher it is than everyone else. Parise is missing so that’s an issue, but they started this way last year too and their possession game deteriorated drastically as the season progressed. Wonder if the same thing happens this year. That powerplay is a disaster too.
3. The Leafs are above 80, which is an average team and usually enough to get a playoff spot. They’re 5-1-1 in their last seven and have looked good so far. Getting break even possession, plus good goaltending, plus The Phil, plus above average special teams should be enough to get them in the playoffs in a weak East.
4. Ottawa is bottom five in possession, but is getting unbelievable goaltending and has a top ten powerplay and penalty kill. They’ve been a good possession team before, but they don’t have Spezza anymore. I don’t think they’re a top 20 team and won’t be here for long if their possession stays as low as it is.
5. Starting to worry about LA. It’s only been 15 games for them, but their hallmark possession game is uncharacteristically low. We keep saying that’ll change every week, but they’ve yet to really dominate any team in that regard. They’re getting results regardless, but still cause for some concern.
6. The Devils were a lot of people’s dark horses in the East. I had them second before the Leddy and Boychuk deals for the Islanders, but they look really bad lately. Like LA, their hallmark is puck possession, but they also usually have one of the top penalty kills in the league. This year it’s dead last. They’ve also played Schneider in every game. That’s too much for any goalie.
7. Florida and Nashville are literally the same team right now, but one is winning and one isn’t. Both pretty good teams at 5-on-5, but scoring at a far too high rate. Both are hilariously bad up or down a man. Florida is hopeless, but Nashville is typically good on special teams. They’re a surprise team this year and could be in a wildcard spot, but they’re no division leaders.
8. Boston is riding a big win streak and have looked much more like the team they were last year. Their start was surprising, but they’re back on track now and will likely challenge the Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic.
9. I didn’t mention the Habs there because they still look pretty bad despite the wins this week. I don’t see them contending for the top spot with Tampa Bay and Boston with the way they’re playing so far, but they have the talent to be a lot better than the way they’re playing right now.
10. Anaheim is usually a fake contender, somehow scoring a lot despite not winning being a very good territorial team. They look better in that regard so far and have dominated a fair amount of teams and are a top-10 possession team. They should be even better once Perry is back from whatever is affecting him.
Again, I’ve adjusted POP because of the small samples and how early it is. Once again I looked at how far they were from average and compared that to teams in the past to get an adjusted number that would work better for projections.
Leafs projected for Playoffs? What planet are we on?
For the most part, I think they’re bang-on in terms of how each team has played so far. There’s room for improvement for a lot of teams, but if they play the way they are right now this is the likeliest place they finish.
That’s it for this week, make sure to come back next week to read all about weekly incremental updates.