A look back at the biggest games and emerging story lines of the NHL weekend.
Theme of the Week: The Curse of November 1
Last year, Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman made an intriguing discovery: Since the 2005 lockout, only three teams that had been four points or more out of a playoff spot on November 1 had managed to make the postseason. It sounded crazy — four points is just two wins, after all, and teams have roughly 70 games to make them up — but Friedman showed his work, and the math checked out.
Last season saw a bit of a slowing of that trend; of the eight teams that were at least four points out of the playoffs on November 1, 2013, two — the Stars and Flyers — eventually made it to the postseason. This year, five teams woke up Saturday in the dreaded position of being at least four points back. Will any be able to recover?
We can already go ahead and write off the Sabres and Hurricanes, even though both had decent weekends. The Oilers and Coyotes are sporting identical records and sharing last place in the Western standings, and both have the disadvantage of playing in a Pacific Division that, at least for now, seems like the tougher of the West’s two divisions.
The best odds probably belong to the Blue Jackets, who found themselves five points back in the weaker Eastern Conference. That’s not good, but it could be a lot worse given that Columbus has been fighting through a rash of early-season injuries that’s left it icing a borderline AHL lineup some nights. In a Metro Division that’s still sorting itself out, the Blue Jackets could climb back into the mix once they get healthy, as long as they can find a way to stay within range until then.