Much like preseason, the first week of NHL games usually isn't indicative of how the rest of the season will play out. Traditionally, American Thanksgiving has been the benchmark of which teams will make it and which won't. Still, that doesn't stop pundits and armchair experts from over-analyzing the first week of October hockey.
After 49 games, six teams are without a point and eight teams are without win. While that in itself isn't all that unusual, a few of those pointless, winless teams are. Sitting atop the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions are the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers respectively; sitting atop the Central Division are the Nashville Predators; from there things get a little strange. The Vancouver Canucks are leading the Pacific Division with seven points in four games and behind them tied for second place, the 3-0 Arizona Coyotes. Languishing at the bottom without a win so far, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. In the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the apparently resurgent Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to get a win in a weak Conference. It's not only that Pittsburgh, Anaheim and LA have yet to win a game that's unusual, it's the fact that they haven't scored much in the games they've played. Kessel was supposed to be the answer to Sidney Crosby's winger prayers but so far has only scored one goal in three games and Crosby has put up goose eggs.
Before we proclaim that the Penguins are cooked and the Coyotes will go 82-0 this season, let's examine a couple of things first. Two of Arizona's top scorers are Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, both of whom have never spent an entire season in the NHL and will most likely not be able to keep up their current pace. Also, have you glanced at the rest of the Arizona roster? Half of them are rookies and the other half are aging veterans. The other Western Conference surprise, the Vancouver Canucks, aren't the Canucks from the Stanley Cup run of 2011. Their defense core isn't exactly a murderer's row of talent and Ryan Miller has had a hard time staying healthy these days.
Over the next couple of weeks, I suspect we'll see a lot of movement in the standings once teams settle in and tinker with their rosters. Do you really think the Anaheim Ducks will stay mired in the Western Conference basement or that Sidney Crosby will score less than Jack Eichel? How about the Montreal Canadiens staying atop the East when their power play is an abysmal 12.5%? The media and fans are always quick to react when certain teams get off to hot/cold starts and before you know it, the sky is falling and coaches need to be fired. We're four games into an 82-game season, let's just sit back and relax and see what the standings look like at Christmas time.