Monday, October 22, 2018

Weekend rankings: How low should the Kings go?

This​ is the time​ of​ year​ when​ coming​ up​ with power​ rankings starts getting​ fun. Over the​ first​ few weeks, everyone’s​​ screaming at you about not overreacting, so you’re basically just going by the preseason consensus. After a few months go by, the best and worst are pretty much locked in and one game here or there doesn’t change much of anything, making it a challenge to come up with new things to talk about every week.

But right now, we’re headed into the sweet spot. It’s still early, of course, but not so early that we can’t start second-guessing some of those initial assumptions. Maybe the Canucks aren’t going to be terrible after all. Maybe the Blackhawks are back, or close to it. Maybe the Kings are in trouble.

Or maybe not. Experience tells us that we’re still going to be wrong about a lot of this stuff. This time last year, we still thought the Blackhawks were good and the Avalanche were bad. But we’re getting close to the point where we’ve seen enough action to start venturing out of our comfort zone, if only a little bit.

It’s also the time of year where we’re less concerned about the dangers of reading too much into a small sample of games. We can, for example, watch the Penguins and Blues shut down the Maple Leafs in back-to-back outings and start to wonder whether Toronto isn’t quite where some thought they were. Or we can see the Bruins lose three straight up in Canada and realize they haven’t really beaten anybody good. Or maybe we start to wonder if we’ve all misjudged the Canadiens, or even the Senators.

And that’s just one division. See, week three is fun. Nobody knows anything, but we’re feeling more confident about it.

All that said, this week’s rankings don’t look radically different from the first few weeks. We’ve actually only got one brand new team making a debut appearance. That team moves into the bottom five and apparently they were so excited by the news that they held a closed-door meeting about it.

But first, on to the good teams. Or at least the teams that are still tricking us into thinking they’re good.

Road to the Cup

The five teams that look like they’re headed towards a summer of keg stands and fountain pool parties.

The Blackhawks aren’t especially close to making either list; they’ve won four and lost four with a goal differential of -1, so they’re just about as average as a team can be right now. But one of the better stories of the weekend was seeing Corey Crawford back in the win column for the first time since last season’s concussion. It’s only been two games, but so far he’s looked like his old self. If that remains the case, the Blackhawks have a shot at being something more than just average.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (6-3-0, +4) – We’ll leave the suddenly toothless Maple Leafs in the top five, no so much on merit, but because nobody else is really knocking down the door to get in. Even after forgetting how to score in back-to-back losses, they’re still sitting tied for second in the league. But we’ll learn something about them this week as they face the Jets in a home-and-home.

In the meantime, it’s starting to seem like the William Nylander situation is coming to a head, or at least to the point where we can start taking scenarios off the table. We’re still a month away from any actual deadline, but it feels like this will be resolved one way or another well before that.

4. San Jose Sharks (4-3-1, +5) – The record isn’t all that impressive, but the underlying numbers are, and it feels like the Sharks are righting the ship after some early season stumbles. And the fun part is that they’re largely doing it without anything spectacular from shiny new toy Erik Karlsson, who doesn’t have a primary point at even strength, yet. That might worry Sharks fans who were expecting Norris type numbers and it may worry Karlsson’s agent as he looks ahead to a record-breaking contract. But it should also worry the rest of a very mediocre-looking Pacific Division, because the Sharks are already dominating possession, and when Karlsson starts doing Karlsson things, they’re going to be awfully tough to stop.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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