As a reminder, this is an overall view of how the teams ranked previously, how we think they project for the rest of the season, but mostly how they played in November.
Last thing to keep in mind, this rankings was created Thursday 11/28.
#5 Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisital. Both players already have 50 points. That is all.
#11 Tampa Bay Lightning
I know, the Sabres are ahead of Tampa in the standing, how could this be? Well, they have guys like Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevsky, all of whom where on a 128 point team last season. THEY LOST 20 GAMES TOTAL, 4 of which were in overtime.
I don’t like them and they’re stumbling a bit this season, but this is one of those situations where (shoutout to GMJB) you have to respect how truly dominant in recent history. I fully expect them to find another gear as they season wears on. They went too hard last season and when they faced adversity in the playoffs, they folded in four games. They don’t want to make that same mistake.
#12 Vancouver Canucks
I know it’s surprising to see Vancouver this high. None of us had them at #12, but since we’re taking average position, this is where they slotted in.
Personally, I believe in the Canucks. I like players like Petterson, Horvat, Miller, Boeser and Hughes. I think Markstrom and Demko can keep them afloat, but they will need more skill in their lineup to crack the top 10. They have a plethora of bottom 6 forwards. If they could add another top 6 forward, I’m liking this Canucks squad.
#23 Buffalo Sabres
I know a lot of people are going to be upset with Buffalo ranking behind teams like Minnesota and Montreal, but the Sabres only won three games in November. We saw the ghost of Sabres past creep into their game. Getting hit with the injury bug didn’t help things either.
Now, recently they look significantly better. The Sabres had a close to ideal weekend against Toronto and absolutely destroyed New Jersey. If the Sabres can take this play into much of December, expect them to make a sizable leap in these rankings. Don’t go ballistic over the caution taken with this team. We may be more harsh on the Sabres than others, but as The Who said, “We won’t get fooled again.”
#10 Toronto Maple Leafs
A five game losing streak in the middle of the month of November coupled with an injury to Mitch Marner and the firing of coach Mike Babcock made for a very eventful month for the Maple Leafs. Things were not looking very good for Toronto partway through the month, but they have since righted the ship as it appears their players have bought into new Head Coach Sheldon Keefe and his system.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Babcock headed into this season and the organization was finally forced to make a move which has seen them turn things around at the tail end of November and the early part of December. The coaching change combined with the return of Mitch Marner is going to make this Leafs team very dangerous moving forward as Keefe is very pro analytics and is expected to make data driven decisions in his roster construction and deployment.
#23 Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres were 3-8-3 in the Month of November, taking 9 out of a possible 28 points (37%) which ultimately had them falling down the Eastern Conference standings quite a bit. Plagued by a myriad of issues such as goaltending, special teams play, lack of scoring, and multiple injuries, it will go down as a month to forget for this young squad who had a stretch of games eerily similar to last years’ collapse.
Weathering the storm and playing better their last 5-6 games, I am less optimistic about their season than I was at the end of October. This team still has a lack of talent offensively and is being carried by Eichel who is on pace for career bests in goals and points. With many players returning from injury in the near future, Jason Botterill will have to finally get off the hands he’s been sitting on and make a deal to bolster the forward group with his depth at defense.
I predict a big bounce back month for this team mostly in part to their recent play being more consistent and indicative of sustainable success from the possession metrics standpoint. Collecting 55-60% of the available points in December will be necessary if this team wants to stay in the playoff hunt.
#31 Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings had an alright start, but they have been very bad recently due to some key injuries. Detroit has lost their past 8 games in regulation and are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. They have put together a dreadful 37.6 xGF% at 5v5 over their losing streak and have looked hopeless on both sides of the puck.
The Wings do not look much better on special teams with the 26th-ranked power play and the league’s worst penalty kill. They will be without one of their premier forwards, Anthony Mantha, for a few weeks due to a lower body injury. Jimmy Howard is also currently injured, leaving Jonathan Bernier (yes, he’s still around) and Eric Comrie as their two netminders. Their six starting defenders are currently Patrik Nemeth, Filip Hronek, Dennis Cholowski, Mike Green, Alex Biega, and Dylan McIlrath.
So, things are not looking too good in Hockeytown this season. On the bright side, the Red Wings are rebuilding and positioning themselves to grab a high pick in the 2020 Draft to add to their already solid prospect core.
#30 New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils just fired their head coach, John Hynes, after a 7-1 beating at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. This has been a very disappointing season for the Devils despite some intriguing new talent. Their special teams have not been too great and they are firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of 5v5 play.
Goaltending, however, has been a huge problem for the Devils. Their starting goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood, has a sub .900 SV% and is dead last in the league in goals saved above expected. Cory Schneider was sent down to the AHL and it looks like his NHL career is pretty much over. Louis Domingue, their current backup, is an AHL/NHL tweener who is fresh off a 5 goals allowed in 1 period performance.
The Devils have tried their best to convince Taylor Hall to re-sign with them after this season, but it looks like he is all but gone after the team’s rough start. A rebuild around Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier looks to be in their near future.