Preseason Is Over – NHL Week 3 Report

With three weeks in the bag, the NHL looks to kick off February with a strong fourth week of the season. Sadly, no teams remained undefeated, but that only makes the competition between the teams grow. After three weeks, we are starting to see the separation of the teams in the standings, and we are starting to see who will make it into the top four and into the Stanley Cup playoffs. We basically used the first three weeks of the season as some warm up games, or even a preseason. Now that the teams known what they need to work on and what they need to keep the intensity with, we will see the separation of good teams and mediocre teams. With the start of week four of the season, we will finally get to see the teams of the league play at their best.

The North Division

As one of the more competitive divisions, second to the East division, the North division is a fun one to watch. With Toronto playing some of their best hockey, Montreal looking to pick up some wins to keep them high in the standings, and with Vancouver working their way into the third spot in the standings, the North division will be produce some great playoff teams. Sitting in first are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have seven wins, two losses, and overtime loss through ten games. With fifteen team points, tied for first along with Washington and Philadelphia, and the one of the best records in the league, Toronto sits in a comfortable spot ahead by three points in the standings. With Mitch Marner being in the scoring leaders list and their top role player, Toronto has played like the team their fans hype them up to be. Montreal sit at the second seed in the North division, with five wins, one loss, and two overtime losses, along with twelve points. Montreal has had some of the best recent play, who split a back-to-back series with Calgary. The Canadiens will look to pick up a couple of points this week against the Vancouver Canucks and the Ottawa Senators, two teams who have something to prove in their own way. Speaking of the Vancouver Canucks, they are seated third in the standings and are looking to notch back-to-back wins over the Canadiens this week in hopes to move up in the rankings. The Canucks have posted a record of six wins and five losses with twelve points. The Canucks have worked their way into the top four spots after playing some rough games in weeks one and two. They turned it around and won four straight games to work their way into the top four in the division. The Winnipeg Jets close out the top four teams with a record of five wins and three losses, and with ten team points. With two losses and one win last week, the Jets will need to work the forecheck a little more if they want to stay in conversation of the playoffs. The Jets sit on the hot seat, as Edmonton also has ten points and could easily replace the Jets in the top four if the Jets start to slip up. It seems Edmonton is the only legitimate threat to the standings due to Connor McDavid making unreal plays and making other teams look like the pee-wee league. However, if Edmonton can’t be more defensive and help Leon Draistaistl and McDavid on the forecheck, the Oilers will be edged out of the playoffs. Calgary and Ottawa will need to pull themselves up by their laces if they want to make some noise in the division. Both teams seem to be playing some of their worst hockey and they are being steamrolled by the rest of the division. The Canada division has been one of the most interesting divisions to watch, and I believe that Toronto and Montreal will seal their spots in the playoffs early in this shortened season.

*Divisional Standings:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 7-2-1, 15 pts
  2. Montreal Canadiens – 5-1-2, 12 pts
  3. Vancouver Canucks – 6-5, 12 pts
  4. Winnipeg Jets – 5-3, 10 pts
  5. Edmonton Oilers – 5-6, 10 pts
  6. Calgary Flames – 3-3-1, 7 pts
  7. Ottawa Senators – 1-7-1, 3 pts

(Wins-Losses-Overtime/Shootout Losses, Team Points)

The West Division

The West division has had some changes to their seating in the top four as well. Vegas has moved down to fourth and the St. Louis Blues have worked their way to the top. It seems the current top four teams will be the four teams left standing in the division when they season is all said and done. The Kings, the Ducks, the Coyotes and the Sharks are all at three wins and at least three losses and are all seeming losing their fight for the top four as the weeks go on. With sloppy play and bad mistakes, these bottom four teams are looking to work their way back into the fight for the top four spots with some key matchups, especially for the Kings and the Ducks. Sitting at the top of the pack, the St. Louis Blues have won three straight games this past week to improve to six wins, two losses, and a shootout loss. Along with Colorado, the Blues have thirteen team points and sit in second for the most points in the league. With a series against Arizona and a series against Colorado, the Blues will look to keep the win streak alive and retain control over the West division after week four. Sitting at second in the West division, the Colorado Avalanche have a record of six wins, three losses, and an overtime loss, and also have thirteen team points, tied with the Blues for the second most in the league. Colorado has been living up to the expectations that the league and fans have had for them this offseason, and the Avalanche are still sitting in a good position to get a shot at the Stanley Cup. With games against Minnesota and St. Louis, the Avalanche will have to beat two of the top four teams, with one of them being a possible future combatant in the divisional playoffs against the Avalanche. With a win over the Avalanche on Sunday to start the week, the Minnesota Wild sit at the third seed in the West division with six wins, four losses, and twelve team points. Minnesota has been a rather pleasant surprise in this division and has played some fun to watch hockey. The Wild look towards another two game series with the Avalanche and then fly back home to play the Arizona Coyotes during week four. Minnesota will need to pick up some wins if they want to stay seated at third and if they want to stay relevant in the division. With the best record in the division, the Golden Knights post a record of five wins, one loss, and one shootout loss along with eleven team points. Vegas seems to be the most dangerous team in this division, but have had to miss out on their most recent game, which was postponed due to Covid protocols. It seems Vegas will have to postpone their two game series with the Sharks this week and look towards playing the LA Kings on Friday and Sunday, looking to earn their way as the apex in this division. The West division is filled with great teams, two of which are predicted to win the Stanley Cup (Vegas and Colorado of course). As the weeks go on, expect the top four to change on, but no new teams will be able to enter.

Divisional Standings:

  1. St. Louis Blues – 6-2-1, 13 pts
  2. Colorado Avalanche – 6-3-1, 13 pts
  3. Minnesota Wild – 6-4, 12 pts
  4. Vegas Golden Knights – 5-1-1, 11 pts
  5. Los Angeles Kings – 3-3-2, 8 pts
  6. Anaheim Ducks – 3-5-2, 8 pts
  7. Arizona Coyotes – 3-4-1, 7 pts
  8. San Jose Sharks – 3-5, 6 pts

The Central Division

Becoming the bottom division in points, the Central division has seen some standing changes after every game these past few weeks. Florida now sits at the top with the best record of five wins and only one shootout loss. With some of their earlier games being postponed due to Covid protocols, Florida looks towards Nashville this week and are hoping to pick up four points in their two game series with the Predators. The Panthers seem to be the team to beat this year, as their goaltending never worsens and their offense is working like a well oil machine. I would expect them to be amongst the top four for awhile as the weeks go on. Interestingly sitting at second are the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have a record of four wins, three losses, two overtime losses, and one shootout loss, along with eleven points. Columbus has had to squeak by in this division, as a few teams have had to postpone and rework their schedule due to Covid. However, the Blue Jackets could be a threat in the long run if they keep up the wins and look to earn points in any way they can. Columbus plays at home this week in a two game series against the Dallas Stars, and they are hoping that their new acquisition in Patrik Laine will be ready to play when the time comes. The Carolina Hurricanes are your third seed in the Central Division, and like the Golden Knights of the West division, seem to be the most dangerous team in the Central, along with the Lighting and Stars. Carolina has picked up three straight wins over the top two teams from the bubble playoffs: Dallas and Tampa Bay. Rolling into Chicago this week, the Hurricanes look to create a storm in front of the net and look to pick up the four points with a possible shot at the top seat of the division. Closing out the top four, the Dallas Stars have a record of four wins, one loss, and one shootout loss. They ironically share the same record and same amount of team points as the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lighting. Losing both games in Carolina, the Stars look to pick up the tempo on offense and bring back the intensity on the power play as they skate on into Columbus, who looks to bring their new star Patrik Laine into the fold. Both Tampa Bay and Chicago sit on the edge of the top four with nine points, however, Tampa Bay posts the better record of the two with four wins, one loss, and one overtime loss. Chicago sits at three wins, four losses, two overtime losses, and one shootout loss. Both teams could be a threat to the standings and both could even find their way into the top four. Chicago seems to have found their goalie, as Kevin Lankinen sits in tenth of the top goalies in the league, posting a record of three wins, one loss, and two overtime losses as well as a save percentage of .937 and a goals against average of 1.97 goals. If the Blackhawks keep the pressure off of their goalie and work their forecheck pressure, Chicago could be in the top four at the end of the shortened season. Tampa Bay has missed games due to Covid, but expect them to finish somewhere in the top four, unless one of the other teams in the division decide to get/stay hot and close the door on them. Nashville seemed to lose their step, as they sit in seventh with a record of four wins and four losses, with eight team points. With losses to Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Carolina, Nashville seems to not be able to keep up with the big dogs of the division and have become the easy prey for a win. However, they are sitting prettier than Detroit, who looks up at the rest of the division with a record of two wins, six losses, and two overtime losses. Detroit is tied with the least amount of team points in the league right now and also tied for the second least amount of wins. Detroit will need to step on the gas and play some aggressive hockey, as they seem to be asleep on the ice. The Central division standings seem to be the most volatile in the league as of now, and I would expect the standings to always be changing; maybe with some new faces.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Florida Panthers – 5-0-1, 11 pts
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets – 4-3-3, 11 pts
  3. Carolina Hurricanes – 5-1, 10 pts
  4. Dallas Stars – 4-1-1, 9 pts
  5. Tampa Bay Lighting – 4-1-1, 9 pts
  6. Chicago Blackhawks – 3-4-3, 9 pts
  7. Nashville Predators – 4-4, 8 pts
  8. Detroit Red Wings – 2-6-2, 6 pts

The East Division

As the most competitive division amongst the top teams of the league, the East division should not be a surprise when it comes in the changing of standings. Washington Capitals now sit at the helm of the ship that is known as the East division, with a record of six wins, one overtime loss, and two shootout losses. The Capitals are tied for the most points in the league, along with their divisional enemy the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington looks to snag a win in Boston before flying into Madison Square Garden to play the lackluster New York Rangers. With second place, the Philadelphia Flyers post a record of seven wins, two losses, and a shootout loss, sharing the top record in the league alongside the Toronto Maple Leafs. After some weak defensive play in week two, the Flyers came out of week three with four straight wins and some stronger offensive play. Expect the Flyers to remain a contender for a playoff spot for the majority of the season, as they look to sweep into Boston this week and pick up four points. The Boston Bruins are now the third seat in the East division with a record of five wins, one loss, and two overtime losses, as well as twelve team points. With two games over the Penguins and an overtime loss to the Capitals, Boston looks to play a busy week as they play Washington on Monday, Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday, and then Buffalo on Saturday. Watch for the Bruins, as they seem to be the team that will stay constant in this experimental season. Closing out the top four are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who post a record of five wins, three losses, and an overtime loss with eleven team points. Pittsburgh has had some sloppy play for a top league team. If Pittsburgh wants to stay in the top four, I would expect them to tighten up on passing while going on the forecheck and they will look to minimize dumb plays. The Penguins will be a busy team this week as they look to hit New York on Monday to play the Rangers, New Jersey on Tuesday and Thursday to play the Devils, and end the week back in New York to play the Islanders on Saturday. Both New Jersey and Buffalo sit on the outskirts of playoff town as they both have ten team points. New Jersey has a record of four wins, three losses, and two shootout losses. They look to shutdown the Penguins and the Rangers this week and look to pick up some points in any way they can to stay in the playoff conversation. Buffalo is in the same shoes as New Jersey. The Sabres post a record of four wins, four losses, and a loss each in overtime and a shootout. Buffalo has played rather weak all season long, so they will need to play with a different tune if they want to crack the top four and shoot for the playoffs. Buffalo will play the Islanders of New York and the Bruins of Boston, as they too look to pick up points anyway possible. New York sits in the bottom two spots as the Islanders post a record of three wins, four losses, and two overtime losses, while the Rangers have a record of two wins, four losses, and each an overtime and a shootout loss. The Rangers seem to be too distracted in the locker room due to the horrid Tony DeAngelo incident. If they cannot move past the mistake of keeping DeAngelo for too long, then the Rangers will be seen drowning in their own issues. The Islanders have had some relatively close losses and will need to close out their games on a strong lead if they want to move up in the standings. The East division, along with the Canadian (North) division, will be the most interesting to watch this season. I would expect to see the most points and the best records to come out of this division by the end of the season.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Washington Capitals – 6-0-3, 15 pts
  2. Philadelphia Flyers – 7-2-1, 15 pts
  3. Boston Bruins – 5-1-2, 12 pts
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 5-3-1, 11 pts
  5. New Jersey Devils – 4-3-2, 10 pts
  6. Buffalo Sabres – 4-4-2, 10 pts
  7. New York Islanders – 3-4-2, 8 pts
  8. New York Rangers – 2-4-2, 6 pts

Leaders Of The League

With no surprise at all, Connor McDavid and Leon Draistaistl sit atop the league’s scoring leaders, both with some impressive numbers. McDavid turns teams into a bunch of inexperienced players when given the chances, and with Draistaistl being a monster of a role player, Edmonton should be a force of reckoning in their division. Unsurprisingly as well, Nathan MacKinnon makes the top five players on the scoring leaders list with a shocking amount of goals. However, knowing how well stacked Colorado is, it becomes less surprising to see MacKinnon only with two goals and twelve assists. Mitch Marner, Nicklas Bäckström, and James van Riemsdyk emerge as their teams’ best player they all are post five goals and at least seven assists. Probably the most shocking thing about the scoring leaders list is to see Connor McDavid not the only one with the most amount of goals in the league. Brock Boeser seems to be the revival for Vancouver as he posts a league high of eight goals and three assists. The top five of the scoring leaders will more than likely stay relatively the same for a good portion of the season, but I would expect the rest of the scoring leaders list to be forever changing and updating.

^NHL Scoring Leaders:

  1. Connor McDavid, EDM – 8 G, 14 A, 22 P
  2. Leon Draisaitl, EDM – 6 G, 15 A, 21 P
  3. Mitchell Marner, TOR – 5 G, 9 A, 14 P
  4. Nathan MacKinnon, COL – 2 G, 12 A, 14 P
  5. Nicklas Bäckström, WSH – 5 G, 8 A, 13 P
  6. James van Riemsdyk, PHI – 5 G, 7 A, 12 P
  7. Anze Kopitar, LAK – 1 G, 11 A, 12 P
  8. Brock Boeser, VAN – 8 G, 3 A, 11 P
  9. Patrice Bergeron, BOS – 5 G, 6 A, 11 P
  10. Brad Marchand, BOS – 5 G, 6 A, 11 P
  11. Nikolaj Ehlers, WPG – 5 G, 6 A, 11 P
  12. Bo Horvat, VAN – 5 G, 6 A, 11 P
  13. Mark Stone, VGK – 2 G, 9 A, 11 P
  14. Jack Eichel, BUF – 2 G, 9 A, 11 P
  15. Cale Makar, COL – 1 G, 10 A, 11 P

(Goals, Assists, Points)

Tendies, Goalies, & Net Minders

The top goalies of the league seem to be corresponding to the top teams in the league (shocker). With goalies like Philipp Grubauer and Jordan Binnington sitting at the top two spots, their teams seem less pressured when on defense and seem to be working the forecheck for the majority of their games. Of course the fourth through ninth spots don’t seem to be a surprise to be so high on the lists, as these are probably the best goalies in the league. Goalies like Andersen, Hellebuyck, Hart, and Koskinen seem to be the reason why their teams are in positions they are. With less worry about their goalie botching a block or giving up too many rebounds, these teams can work their forecheck more and see less of a struggle while on defense. With tendies like Fleury and Vasilevskiy, and even Andersen, it is not a surprise to seem them in the top ten of the league. These goalies are on some of the best, if not the best, teams in the league at the moment, and their shutdown of the crease is a major reason why. The only remaining undefeated goalies are Marc-Andre Fluery and Brian Elliot, both on teams in the top four of their respective divisions. The top net minders seem to changing spots, and as it doesn’t come as a surprise, your team wins when you are on top the list.

^^Goalie Stats Leaders:

  1. Philipp Grubauer, COL – 6-2, .930 SV%, 1.75 GAA
  2. Jordan Binnington, STL – 5-1-1, .918 SV%, 2.49 GAA
  3. Vitek Vanecek, WSH – 5-0-2, .918 SV%, 2.78 GAA
  4. Frederik Andersen, TOR – 5-2-1, .892 SV%, 3.01 GAA
  5. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL – 4-1-1, .925 SV%, 2.15 GAA
  6. Connor Hellebuyck, WPG – 4-2, .910 SV%, 2.67 GAA
  7. Carter Hart, PHI – 4-2-1, .900 SV%, 3.34 GAA
  8. Mikko Koskinen, EDM – 4-6, .895 SV%, 3.45 GAA
  9. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK – 3-0, .951 SV%, 1.00 GAA
  10. Kevin Lankinen, CHI – 3-1-2, .937 SV%, 1.97 GAA
  11. Brian Elliot, PHI – 3-0, .932 SV%, 2.22 GAA
  12. Jacob Markstrom, CGY – 3-2-1, .929 SV%, 2.18 GAA
  13. Semyon Varlamov, NYI – 3-2-1, .924 SV%, 2.00 GAA
  14. Anton Khudobin, DAL – 3-1-1, .922 SV%, 2.17 GAA
  15. John Gibson, ANA – 3-4-2, .921 SV%, 2.51 GAA

(Wins-Losses-Overtime/Shootout Losses, Save Percentage, Goals Allowed Average)

 

After some great first few weeks of hockey, this is where we get to see the teams finally play well. Just like how the NFL teams struggled for the first couple of weeks without a preseason, this is when the teams of the league starting kicking it into high gear and this is when we get to see who really is going to make it out of their division and into the Stanley Cup Finals. Be sure to check back every Monday for your weekly report of the NHL.

 

Photo Creds: @NHL/Twitter.com/https://twitter.com/NHL/status/1355909978150875139

*- NHL Hockey Standings/NHL.com/https://www.nhl.com/standings/2020/division

^- 2020-2021 NHL Scoring Leaders/QuantHockey.com/https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/seasons/2020-21-nhl-players-stats.html

^^-NHL Stats/NHL.com/http://www.nhl.com/stats/goalies

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