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Silver Nuggets: Does early success matter?

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There are some surprises at the top of the NHL standings - do they mean anything?

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

If you look at the NHL standings, you’ll notice something funny. The Oilers are second in the league. The Red Wings, mocked roundly before the season started, are fourth. Even the Canucks, predicted before the season as the consensus last place team, are in tenth. Mean while in the bottom ten? Pre-season favourites like the Kings, and Predators. As many people will tell you, it’s early. It’s too early to predict the whole season. That being said, fans would get excited about a six-game win streak at any point during the season, so Detroit and Montreal fans have a right to be excited, regardless of how the rest of the season works out.

It’s pretty easy to demonstrate that early season starts don’t always mean something. Last year the Canadiens had their greatest start in franchise history (9-0-0), only to finish outside the playoffs. Senators fans will remember the 2007-08 season, when the team set an NHL record for best 14 games to start a season, only to limp into the playoffs and get swept in the first round. On the flip side, the Sens had a losing record entering Christmas 2006 (17-18-1), and that was the season when they made their way to the Stanley Cup finals. So it’s clear that the early season doesn’t always mean something.

At the same time, Elliotte Friedman likes to point out that since 2005-06, only six out of 48 teams more than four points out of a playoff spot on November 1st have managed to still make the playoffs. That’s Tuesday this year by the way, which means we’re very, very close to that point. So though early season play isn’t everything, it stands to reason that it’s always easier to not have to play catch-up.

I guess it’s kind of subjective this early in the season what to think. For someone like the Canucks, I’m not convinced they’re a Stanley Cup threat (and neither are the oddsmakers). The Oilers might have turned a corner — we all know Connor McDavid will be able to drag the franchise forward — but this might just a false sense of hope for a team that’s still a couple years from truly competing. No, more what I think about is a team like the St. Louis Blues. They saw quite a bit of upheaval over the summer, and nobody was sure if their time as a Cup contender was ending or if the new-look squad would gel. A hot start to the season has people believing.

And after all, Ottawa’s currently in the playoffs, so I’ll give lots of credit to strong starts.

Sens Links

  • The Sens have played one game since the last time we checked in, a game in which Craig Anderson earned his first shutout of the season [Silver Seven, SensChirp, 2Minutes4Blogging]
  • Speaking of Anderson, he’s taken a leave of absence for personal reasons. Here’s wishing the best for him and his family. [Silver Seven, SensChirp]
  • Curtis Lazar scored a key goal for Bingo, leading them to their most recent win [Silver Seven]
  • The Sens Callups guys were in Vancouver for Tuesday’s game, and they have some thoughts to share [Sens Callups]
  • Ken Warren of the Citizen joined Callum and Alec on the most recent Battle of Ontario [Silver Seven]

Other Links

  • Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts, including helping NHL players to consider their post-hockey careers, and some positive thoughts on the Sens [Sportsnet]
  • The Ducks finally signed Hampus Lindholm, who somehow was convinced to take less money than Rasmus Ristolainen [NHL]
  • There have been some significant early-season goalie injuries [In Goal Mag]
  • More than a season later, it’s still not clear who won the Lehner trade [Today’s Slapshot]