Drew Doughty is ready to return to the ice for the Kings
We're finally ready to get underway with this year's edition of the Hockey Survivor Pool.
There have been lots of early season surprises in the NHL, such as the Devils' implosion, the Leafs' hot start, and Steven Stamkos's otherworldly scoring pace, although maybe the latter shouldn't be too, too surprising.
With all the unpredictability that goes on with these hot and cold starts, it's a good thing we've now included a double elimination rule for the survivor pool! Let's take a look at this weekend's top three available picks.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Nashville Predators (Saturday, 10 p.m. Eastern)
The Predators have faded somewhat since their hot start, but boy does Barry Trotz deserve some recognition as one of the league's best coaches. Year in and year out, his ragtag teams are always there come playoff time.
They're slumping now though, and the Kings are rounding into form as one of the league's most exciting young teams. Couple this with the fact that Drew Doughty is expected back in time for this game, and the Kings should be padding their lead atop the Western Conference come Saturday.
Prediction: 3-1 Kings
Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators (Saturday, 7 p.m. Eastern)
Montreal's hopes for this season rested entirely on the shoulders of Carey Price. Price has been good, sometimes great, so far this season, and that has propelled the Habs to a fantastic start.
The Senators, on the other hand, have yet to find any sort of consistency between the pipes, with Pascal Leclaire again spending extended time on the shelf. Those joining Leclaire in the sick bay have included Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Filip Kuba. Oh, and has anyone seen Alex Kovalev?
Prediction: 4-3 Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders (Saturday, 7 p.m. Eastern)
Philly fans are already letting themselves dream that Sergei Brobovsky might actually be the No. 1 goalie they've been yearning for since the Ron Hextall era. It's a bit early, and the jury is definitely still out on Brobovsky, but he's looked good and is stealing more and more starts from incumbent Brian Boucher.
On the flip side, the Islanders are still trying to get Rick DiPietro's game up to par, but he hasn't looked sharp. He certainly isn't to be blamed with a total of just 13 games played in the previous two seasons.
The Flyers are as deep as any team in the league up front, and also boast remarkable depth on the blueline. Expect the Flyers' veteran depth to teach the young Islanders what it takes to be the class of the East when the two teams meet this weekend.
Prediction: 5-2 Flyers