Tampa Bay Lightning (2-2-1, five points)
The Lightning certainly have not looked like the dangerous team we’re used to seeing that won back-to-back Cups. Granted the losses have come to the Penguins, Panthers and Avalanche, but still, it hasn’t been pretty. Losing Nikita Kucherov will hurt. No, you will not find a corny LTIR joke here, it’s not on purpose, this team will actually feel the effects of his absence.
On a positive note, it’s been nice seeing Steven Stamkos get back to form with nine points in five games. And Victor Hedman (seven assists) is looking more and more like the top defenseman in the league we were used to seeing before last season. More than likely, the Lightning get rid of the championship hangover and find their footing, but they will have to navigate through this without their top player.
Toronto Maple Leafs (2-3-1, five points)
Tough goings for the Maple Leafs early on. They have now lost three on a row, with their most recent defeat coming in the form of a slaughter from the Penguins 7-1. To make matters worse, Pittsburgh was without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Oh yes, and Kris Letang. And Bryan Rust. And Jeff Carter. You get the point.
Auston Matthew does not have a point in three games played. Mitch Marner has not scored in six. Only three players have more than one goal – William Nylander, Michael Bunting and Jason Spezza, who leads the team with three. The only wins have come against the Canadiens and the Senators. Yeah, things don’t look great in Toronto right now and Maple Leaf fans will definitely, absolutely, 100% be rationale about this start.
Ottawa Senators (2-3-0, four points)
The Senators only know how to play close games. Four of their five matches to start have been one-goal affairs. The other was a two-goal game. Similar to last season, they’re not going to win a ton, but they’re going to be a gritty, annoying team to play with Brady Tkachuk leading the way.
Injuries have been the big story so far (now that the Tkachuk contract standoff is over). Matt Murray is going on the IR after starting just one game and Shane Pinto is expected to be out one-to-two weeks. Anton Forsberg will take over as the starter for Murray. The Sens will continue to rely on their youth to keep them in games, but expect more of the same from what we’ve seen so far.
Montreal Canadiens (1-5-0, two points)
Maybe losing Shea Weber, Philip Danault, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and then Carey Price does make a difference. I don’t think people expected the Canadiens to be good, but did we expect them to be this bad?
After scoring just four goals in the first five games, which were all losses, the offense finally came alive for the first victory in the 6-1 beating of the Red Wings. But the offense is still a major concern. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield each have just one assist a piece. Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry are pointless. Jonathan Drouin leads the team with five points and has been a feel-good story to start the season, but outside of that, the Habs are in trouble.
Every two weeks, I’ll be going through the division and looking how each team is doing. So far, the Bruins are in a good spot and would be higher if the NHL actually you know, scheduled them the same as they did every one else.