Hockey is a stressful game. Each game can change in a heartbeat, as can each team’s season. So when your favorite team strings together a few wins to start the year, you may catch yourself breathing a sigh of relief: there’s a little cushion, a little breathing room. Maybe this team can stay one step ahead and make this season a little easier on all of our hearts.
We’re here to make sure that you start panicking again. If you’re a fan of one of the teams on this list, we have bad news: your team isn’t nearly as good as it looks. And when reality sets in, your team could go on a slide while the bad guys catch up. Sorry, but it’s true.
Ah, the Stars! In the brutal Central Division of the Western Conference, a lot of us weren’t expecting that much from them. And here they are with four wins. They sure showed us.
But how long can this team hold on? The Stars profited from the Chicago Blackhawks’ salary cap woes, adding good players like LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya. The Stars will keep up their scoring this year, but will Oduya be enough to stabilize their defense?
The Stars still have questions about their goaltending future, and despite one shutout (against the disappointing Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening game of their season), the Stars are allowing an average of 3.2 goals a game. They let in 6 in one game alone, and that was against the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche, incidentally, are not a good team.
We think that the Blues are likely to pull away in the Central, and the Stars will have trouble holding onto a top three spot once the Chicago Blackhawks right the ship and the young Winnipeg Jets team gets going. The Nashville Predators and the Minnesota Wild are also threats in this tough division.
New York Rangers
The worry before the season was that the New York Rangers’ championship window was closing. Martin St. Louis has retired, and the rest of the squad is a little bit older. Can they really compete?
Well, New York fans will point to their team’s 4-2-1 record, which is good for first place in the woeful Metropolitan Division, and will tell us to see for ourselves. But it’s far too early to say that the Rangers have avoided the worst-case scenario. Topping the Metropolitan doesn’t mean much – it’s been a very weak division so far this year – and the Rangers are still fresh from a long offseason.
We’ll see how this team performs as its aging stars are asked to keep playing game after game down the stretch. With the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals looking ready to make a run this year, the Rangers may not be at the top of the Metropolitan for long.
The Canucks made a confusing mix of offseason moves. A couple of their moves seemed to promise a decent on-ice product but, for the most part, the Canucks appeared to be rebuilding this year. That decision hasn’t really caught up with them yet, thanks to some pretty strong games from this surprising squad. It’s a nice story, but we don’t think it will last.
Sorry, Vancouver fans, but this confused Pacific Division has to settle down eventually. And when it does, we think that those underperforming Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks teams that the Canucks beat will right the ship and start surging back towards their rightful places at the top of the standings. Vancouver’s brass didn’t do enough to keep this team competitive this year, and it’s bound to catch up with them.