The 2021 NHL season was a week of preparation and seven days of excitement with unexpected results.
For this week’s NHL rankings, we determined the biggest surprise for each team.
How we rank: The current ESPN hockey team picks from 1 to 31 players – taking into account past results and offseason additions – and those results are tabulated in the list presented here.
Pay attention: The previous ranking by team refers to our last preseason edition, published on the 13th. January has been published.
Previous review : 1
The Lightnings looked very good in the first two games, but are now out of contention due to the postponement of games against the Stars in the middle of the week. So, surprise: Another mini training camp to smooth out the difficulties.
Previous review : 3
Coach Peter DeBoer said he would like to see his team take more penalties and that they have yet to score a goal on the power play, which is clearly not planned. But aside from that, Vegas seems to have gotten the season off to a good start, with goals in the third period and a 7-0 scoreline in their last few games.
Previous review : 2
It was frustrating to see the Avalanche come out of their opening game so flat after starting the season with a lot of Stanley Cup hype. It’s not surprising that they reacted, but it’s shocking to see Les Bleus dominate and beat a very good team 8-0.
Previous review : 5
Old habits can be hard to break. Last season, the Capitals recorded 298 penalties (averaging about 10 minutes per game), which put them in second place in the league. That trend has continued this season, with 17 fewer points in the first four games alone.
Previous review : 7
Even the good teams will have bad nights in this boring and uncertain season. But the Flyers haven’t conceded six or more goals at home all season, so it was scary to see them do it in their third game against the Sabres.
Previous review : 6
It was surprising to see veteran Jason Spezza on the waiver wire this week (albeit for purely personal reasons), and fortunately he was cleared – otherwise, according to the media, he would have resigned. Spezza has excelled in the face-off circle in his last two games, winning 17 of 21 draws.
Previous review : 4
Jordan Kiru defeated the Sharks 4-4 in the third period on Monday, the 22-year-old’s second goal of the young season. The Kirov were also credited with the win in the season opener against Colorado.
Previous review : 8
The Bruins have played four games this season, 189:58 of hockey and are still 5-5 down. It’s not ideal at all. To remedy this, Boston could benefit from greater involvement from its defenders in the rush.
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Previous review : 9
The Stars open their season on Friday – delayed a week by the team’s COWID-19 blowout – so we’ll have to wait and see how they surprise us.
Previous review : 10
It’s not at all surprising that Semyon Varlamov started the season with two washouts. When Ilya Sorokin got off to a flying start on Saturday, his teammates surprisingly let him down 5-0.
Previous review : 12
Many people in the league indicated that goaltending was a potential weakness for Carolina this season. The Canes have chosen Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, who have allowed just six goals in three games so far (for an overall save percentage of .925).
Previous review : 20
Habs have been a fashionable choice this season, thanks to a series of updates from General Manager Mark Bergevin. Their attack has scored 12 goals in three games, and that performance could be sustainable.
Previous review : 15
Rangers tried Anthony DeAngelo in their first pair to open training camp, which was well deserved after his breakthrough in the 2019-20 season. On opening night, DeAngelo was killed on the third pair, and after Matthew Barzal was badly burned for a goal, the defender was a good scratch.
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Previous review : 16
The Flames are off to a flying start in the Northern Division and their power play looks dangerously good as they have converted 6 of 16 chances (37.5%) so far. Nice curtain: Six different players scored six points each on the men’s side.
Previous review : 23
It’s been a long time coming for the Wild fans to get a star to their name. Kirill Kaprizov proved that by being named NHL All-Star of the Week after scoring the winning goal in overtime in his first game and adding the assist in overtime in his second.
Previous review : 21
Surprisingly, coach Joel Quenneville did the opposite and even used Keith Yandle for the opener – now the fourth longest defensive line in championship history. Even more dramatic: Yandle scores a goal.
Previous review : 19
From a training camp full of commercial rumours, Patrick Lane had one of his most dominant and entertaining performances in the opening game of the season, with two goals, an assist and a strong scrimmage involvement. Unfortunately, an upper body injury kept him out of action for a few games this week.
Previous review : 18
Offense is the focus of this team, which finished in the middle of the pack last season and had only one goalie (Roman Josi) as the only player with more than 50 points. Remarkably, in the first three games alone, 16 players showed up at the Preds and scored at least one point.
Previous review : 11
One of the Penguins’ most significant moves this offseason was trading Patrick Hornqvist to Florida for 24-year-old defenseman Mike Matheson. But according to local media, Matheson will be out longer with an upper-body injury, creating an opportunity for Juuso Riikola.
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Previous review : 14
The Canucks’ power play is the perfect showcase for their young, veteran stars. Last season he was the fourth best player in the NHL (24.2%). The men’s advantage doesn’t look as good this season as it has in the past, currently 0-15.
Previous review : 13
The Oilers had a bumpy start to the season. With a compressed schedule, Coach Dave Tippett began to shake things up as early as game four. The coach dropped two young defenders – Ethan Bearcat and Caleb Jones – to give William Lagesson and veteran Chris Russell a chance.
Previous review : 24
The fact that Phil Kessel has already scored three goals (he only scored 14 all of last season) is certainly a gratifying fact. Last season, the Yotes had an attacking spirit, but conceded ten goals in their first three games.
Previous review : 17
The Blue Jackets won their first win of the season against Detroit, but so did Zach Werenski, who clashed with his childhood friend Dylan Larkin – even after Larkin left tickets to the game with Werenski’s family. Hockey can be cold!
Previous review : 25
San Jose has won just once in their first three games, but they lead the league in terms of the number of first half goals scored (six). The Sharks’ power play also seems to be quite effective, with 5 of 11 chances taken so far (45.5%).
Previous review : 22
The biggest shocker of the first win of the season for the Sabres (6-1 against Philadelphia) : The fourth line provoked an attack. Curtis Lazar scored two goals, Riley Sheehan made a nice assist and Jeff Skinner, recently demoted, made eight shots, which is the team’s best score.
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Previous review : 29
The most pleasant surprise with the Devils so far is the appearance of Jack Hughes. He arrived at camp with 14 more pounds of muscle (the best shot I’ve ever seen), and he looks much more confident on the ice than he did as a rookie.
Previous review : 28
The Red Wings traded Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton last February, after which the Oilers did not make a qualifying offer. Athanasiou earned just $1.2 million in one year at the Los Angeles Free Agency. So it was nice to see the speedy striker score in his first two games with his new team.
Previous review : 31
The Red Wings are much better this season. Bobby Ryan is one of the veterans Steve Yzerman brought in to change the culture, and Ryan is already leading the way with four goals in his first three games.
Previous review : 30
There’s a lot of raw talent on that list. We didn’t expect Ottawa to win their first two games against Toronto – and we certainly didn’t expect the Senators to beat the Leafs 7-6.
Previous review : 27
Raise your hand if you expected Maxime Comtois (three goals) to be the Ducks’ top scorer in three games? In his first two seasons, the 22-year-old scored just seven goals in 39 games. Nicolas Deslauriers (one goal) is the only Duck to score this season.
Previous review : 26
One of Chicago’s highlights last season was the development of European free agent Dominik Kubalik, who was named a Calder Trophy finalist with 30 goals. As the team focuses on developing its young players, it’s odd that Kubalik still has little ice time.
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