The full first month of the 2023-24 NHL season is now in the rearview mirror. There have been some surprising results and some fine individual performances so far.
Overall, it has been a great first month of the season that has only set the stage for great action to follow.
The biggest surprise so far has been the Edmonton Oilers. They appeared a legitimate Stanley Cup contender entering the season but through 13 games, the Oilers have the second-fewest points in hockey, just ahead of the hapless Sharks.
There are less surprises toward the top of the league standings but one team that stands out is the Canucks. Vancouver was not expected to take as large of a step forward as they appear to have taken.
It remains to be seen whether their strong start is sustainable. But for now, the Canucks are a very difficult draw for opponents.
The Golden Knights have been flat out dominant and have the most points in the NHL and the second best goal differential. Their +26 goal differential comes out to a 1.73 goal differential per game.
The Rangers have flown a little bit under the radar all things considered. Other teams and players have dominated the headlines through the first month of the season but the Rangers have been extremely steady and are not going anywhere.
The only thing keeping the Bruins from being ranked first or second is a bit of a soft schedule. That is not their fault. Boston has plain taken care of business against whoever is in front of them on a given night and they continue to get the job done.
One of the more pleasant surprises of the season is the Canucks. Way too early in the season, they have front-runners for the Hart Trophy, Norris, and Jack Adams awards. They have bullied teams on both sides of the puck and they have a +2.14 goal differential per game. If Vancouver can hold even close to their early season averages, they will remain toward the top of NHL standings and rankings.
A tough week for the Avalanche gave way for the Stars to take early control of the Central division. They are three points clear of Colorado and Winnipeg and have the ability to smother opponents and limit damage which has led to success early on.
The Pacific just may be the toughest division in the NHL. The Kings have shown they belong and all season will challenge for top spot. They have some very impressive wins under their belt, the best of which came last week with a 4-1 win over Vegas.
A bad week has dropped the Avalanche a few spots. But all in all, this is still a team to be reckoned with. They have the top end talent to hang with any team in hockey. Colorado is a strong, deep team in a weak division and should be stalwarts in the NHL’s top 10 throughout the season.
The Panthers had an up and down first couple weeks but they appear to have snapped out of it. Florida has taken down some very good teams and is very difficult to play against. If they do not win on a given night, they will make it extremely difficult on their opponents.
The Leafs are another team bumped down due to a recent skid. Toronto look to have bounced back as they have won 3 out of their last 4 games to get to their current 8-5-0 record. This team is as star-studded as any team in hockey and should be able to work their way up this list as the season progresses.
The Red Wings have also trended downward after a stellar start. They have played a tough schedule lately but remain toward the top of the Eastern Conference. Detroit is a young, fast, physical team that every game either earns it or makes their opponent earn it.
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