The 2021-22 NHL season is a mere babe at just 20 days old. There are still 179 days between now and its conclusion — which include a few days for the Olympic break — so let’s all take a deep breath.
OK, now that that’s done, let’s, of course, freak out because — don’t be shocked — the unexpected has happened. The Sabres and Red Wings are winning! The Bruins and Avalanche are .500! The Coyotes are bad! Well, that last one was definitely expected.
While things have certainly been shaken and stirred, it’s way too early to ink in not only the 16 postseason teams but also the Stanley Cup champs. But of course, the overreactions are there for every team. Some are from the offseason, some are from the preseason and some are from the last few days, but here they are nonetheless.
POWER RANKINGS 2021-22: Offseason | Entering opening night
NHL power rankings 2021-22
1. Carolina Hurricanes
Opening night power ranking: 8
Overreaction: The Hurricanes will never lose!
Reality: It may not be an overreaction with the way they’re collecting wins as the last undefeated team, but it is, as they say, a long season. Plus, for everyone who said Frederik Andersen will continue to struggle: He’s 7-0-0 with a 1.29 goals-against average and .956 save percentage.
2. Florida Panthers
Opening night power ranking: 12
Overreaction: Spencer Knight will take the No. 1 job!
Reality: This may still happen, but right now Sergei Bobrovsky is unbeatable — literally. He is 6-0-0 and has stopped 187 of the 198 shots he has faced.
3. Edmonton Oilers
Opening night power ranking: 6
Overreaction: Wait, Zach Hyman is good? Who knew?!
Reality: We knew when he signed. We knew in the summer. We knew heading into opening night. If you watched any Maple Leafs games in the last few years, you knew, too.
4. Washington Capitals
Opening night power ranking: 11
Overreaction: Alex Ovechkin won’t beat Wayne Gretzky’s record!
Reality: Ovechkin has nine goals in eight games and is just 155 behind Gretzky. By the time his career is done he will have obliterated the record.
5. St. Louis Blues
Opening night power ranking: 17
Overreaction: Vladimir Tarasenko is on the trade block!
Reality: Whether or not this is still the case, he has looked pretty solid with nine points (four goals, five assists) in the first seven games and this goal straight down Market Street:
6. Calgary Flames
Opening night power ranking: 25
Overreaction: Darryl Sutter is too “old school” for today’s game!
Reality: The Flames have won six straight.
7. New York Rangers
Opening night power ranking: 16
Overreaction: Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad are done!
Reality: The duo exited Sunday night’s matchup with the Kraken with a combined 15 points but only two goals.
8. Minnesota Wild
Opening night power ranking: 14
Overreaction: Kirill Kaprizov is in a sophomore slump!
Reality: The reigning Calder Trophy winner and Minnesota’s leading scorer from last season has yet to find the back of the net through eight games. He’s also -3, second-worst on the Wild.
9. Philadelphia Flyers
Opening night power ranking: 23
Overreaction: Carter Hart won’t be able to rebound!
Reality: Hart was bad in 2021 but he has been up front regarding his mental struggles last season. Is he 100 percent back to being a premier backstop? Maybe not yet, but he is just 23 and has a .915 save percentage in five games.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
Opening night power ranking: 1
Overreaction: There’s no way the Lightning will three-peat!
Reality: Chillax. It’s a long season and if we’ve learned anything, never doubt Jon Cooper.
11. Vegas Golden Knights
Opening night power ranking: 4
Overreaction: Robin Lehner can’t be a No. 1 goalie!
Reality: Lest we forget, Lehner was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2018-19. The Golden Knights haven’t looked great in front of him and that certainly hasn’t helped his stats.
12. Winnipeg Jets
Opening night power ranking: 9
Overreaction: The Jets are in trouble!
Reality: This team goes as Connor Hellebuyck goes, but the Jets backstop does tend to start slowly. In fact, the year he won the Vezina Trophy (2019-20), he was 5-5-0 with a 2.63 GAA in October.
13. Buffalo Sabres
Opening night power ranking: 32
Overreaction: Craig Anderson is old!
Reality: Age is but a number, friends. The 40-year-old is 4-1-0 with a .939 save percentage and 1.98 goals-against average with 4.1 Goals Saved Above Average.
14. New York Islanders
Opening night power ranking: 3
Overreaction: The Islanders will still struggle to score but it won’t be that bad!
Reality: Well, not only is it bad, it’s the worst in the four seasons Barry Trotz has been the bench boss on the Island. They’ve gone from: 2.72 goals-for per game in 2018-19 → 2.78 in 2019-20 → 2.71 in 2021 → 2.43. To make matters worse, the team is allowing 2.43 goals against, so they don’t have much wiggle room.
15. Columbus Blue Jackets
Opening night power ranking: 27
Overreaction: The Blue Jackets won’t make the playoffs!
Reality: As of Monday morning they’re the first wild card. But — and this is a strong but — the season isn’t even 10 games old.
16. Detroit Red Wings
Opening night power ranking: 28
Overreaction: It’ll be another boring, mundane basement-dwelling year in Detroit!
Reality: The kids are all right.
17. Colorado Avalanche
Opening night power ranking: 2
Overreaction: They look lost at times!
Reality: The team has already been hit by the injury bug. Goaltender Pavel Francouz has been out with a lower-body injury and defenseman Devon Toews is inching his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Plus, Nathan MacKinnon missed two games cause of COVID protocols and Cale Makar has started off slowly after missing the preseason due to his own offseason medical procedure.
18. Pittsburgh Penguins
Opening night power ranking: 21
Overreaction: The window is closing! This team is nothing without Crosby and Malkin!
Reality: This team, without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust, smoked the Leafs 7-1. And now everyone but Malkin is back.
19. Ottawa Senators
Opening night power ranking: 22
Overreaction: Matt Murray is back!
Reality: Maybe true. Murray had a decent preseason but only suited up for two games — he did have a sparkly 1.60 GAA and .936 save percentage — before landing on injured reserve with a head/neck injury.
20. Nashville Predators
Opening night power ranking: 26
Overreaction: Juuse Saros will win the Vezina!
Reality: May need to slow the roll a smidge. Yes, Saros had a quality 2021 — including an eye-popping 20.9 Goals Saved Above Average — but whether he can replicate one good year is still TBD.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs
Opening night power ranking: 5
Overreaction: Another season the Maple Leafs won’t win the Stanley Cup!
Reality: Let’s all calm down. Teams go through slumps. Besides, how quickly everyone forgets that in the last full 82-game season, the eventual champion Blues were in last place in early January 2019.
22. Dallas Stars
Opening night power ranking: 18
Overreaction: Miro Heiskanen will be a Norris Trophy finalist!
Reality: He does have seven points in eight games but it’s alongside a big, red minus-4.
23. Vancouver Canucks
Opening night power ranking: 19
Overreaction: Elias Pettersson needs to go back to his old sticks!
Reality: According to Sportsnet’s Ian MacIntyre, Pettersson switched over the summer to a “slightly longer twig with less flex.” He may want to go back to his old sticks as he has just four points (one goal) in nine games.
24. Boston Bruins
Opening night power ranking: 7
Overreaction: The Bruins don’t have any secondary scoring!
Reality: This has been a rallying cry for a while now. Enter Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and Taylor Hall.
25. Seattle Kraken
Opening night power rankings: 15
Overreaction: The Kraken are closer to Davy Jones’ locker than the top of the standings!
Reality: This team started out, well, sinking like a stone. But after a 1-3-1 road trip — where they were outscored 19-11 — and then a loss to open Climate Pledge Arena, they won two straight and outscored those opponents 9-2 before a 3-1 home loss to the Rangers on Sunday.
26. Anaheim Ducks
Opening night power ranking: 29
Overreaction: It’ll be a long season in Anaheim!
Reality: Yep, but the likes of John Gibson, Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry are surely making it fun.
27. New Jersey Devils
Opening night power ranking: 20
Overreaction: The rebuild is over!
Reality: Eh, maybe. Yes, they got Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Bernier, but this team is still mighty young and inexperienced and losing Jack Hughes for a while hasn’t helped.
28. Montreal Canadiens
Opening night power ranking: 10
Overreaction: The Canadiens have lost their swagger!
Reality: Montreal has lost its identity. No Shea Weber. No Carey Price for now. Phillip Danault is on the Kings, Corey Perry went to Tampa Bay and Tatar is in the Garden State. Losing the veterans has left major holes in the lineup and the locker room.
29. San Jose Sharks
Opening night power ranking: 31
Overreaction: This team did nothing to improve!
Reality: This is not an overreaction, but they have posted some impressive wins like Saturday’s vs. the Jets with a chunk of guys in COVID-19 protocols.
30. Los Angeles Kings
Opening night power ranking: 24
Overreaction: Are the Kings good or bad?!
Reality: Yes. LA added strong pieces in Danault, Viktor Arvidsson and Alex Edler. Whether that means they’re ready for a postseason spot is TBD.
31. Arizona Coyotes
Opening night power ranking: 30
Overreaction: One hundred percent going for Shane Wright!
Reality: Yeah, no, this is true. Head coach Andre Tourigny had a front-row seat watching Wright in the OHL in 2019-20 and also coached him for a bit in Canada’s pre-World Junior bubble.
32. Chicago Blackhawks
Opening night power ranking: 13
Overreaction: The Blackhawks made some changes and will push for a playoff spot!
Reality: It may be too early, but this team is not only winless, it also looks downright awful and has even made the usually always-smiling Marc-Andre Fleury into a sad dude.
Fleury on his first month with the Blackhawks:
“Very frustrating. Embarrassing… We had some hype with our team, with the new acquisitions this summer…and we all expected more out of our team. It’s been tough to keep smiling.”
— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) October 31, 2021