Colorado Avalanche and 6 Teams That Will Fade from Fast Start
The majority of NHL teams are playing as expected for the most part and sitting exactly where one would expect them to be in the standings. However, there are a few that have gotten out of the gates with a hot start.
Six of these teams won't continue to have such exceptional success.
For these squads, the story of their success thus far has been due to one of the following: A single player carrying the team, a handful of players operating at a level at which they cannot continue to consistently play, or a weak schedule.
There are lots of questions for these teams. Can a club break out of their history and tendencies? Can streaky or injury-prone goaltenders continue to stand on their heads? Can line combinations that have been enjoying chemistry continue to work well together?
Ultimately, the six teams on this list must ask themselves the following question: Can we stay hot?
The answer is a resounding no.
Let me start off by saying this: I believe that the now David Booth-less Florida Panthers are a much improved team from last season. No longer are they the bottom-feeders of the league.
This club looks like a playoff contender this year.
They are currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 5-4-0 record.
The only reason Florida is on this list is that a bunch of the players they acquired this summer who are difference makers have been underperforming.
Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell and Stephen Weiss have done well so far. However, players like Sean Bergenheim and Ed Jovanovski really need to step up in their individual games. The Panthers also have a number of energy players who can be difference makers but aren't standing out in games yet.
The Panthers haven't gotten off to a terribly impressive start and really need to step up their game to remain in the playoff race throughout the season.
The Anaheim Ducks, like the Florida Panthers, are sitting in sixth place in their conference and maybe seem like they shouldn't be on this list.
Okay, the Ducks are a good team. They really are.
However, the West looks like it might be a very tight race this year and the Ducks play in a very strong division. Right now, they are relying too much on Hiller in net and the performance of the Ryan-Perry-Getzlaf (appropriately nicknamed the "RPG" line).
Teemu Selanne is also playing very well but aside from him and Anaheim's famed top line, the team is lacking production.
The Ducks are sitting just two points behind second place and three points out of first in the Pacific Division. The whole team needs to get it together if they want to continue to remain up in the standings.
The Jason Spezza-led Ottawa Senators are a team that has been accustomed to sitting at the bottom of the league the last few years.
A 5-5-0 start isn't exactly a fast start but it is much more than anyone expected so far from this squad.
Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson are all performing at a point-per-game rate but the rest of the team isn't producing as much. Ottawa has gotten a lot of different players involved in the scoring but they need to get more scoring from the players who aren't stars.
I doubt that Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson can keep up the heavy production and if they can't, Ottawa will not be well off.
In a close Western Conference, this young team will not continue its success.
To be honest, Edmonton has been lucky thus far. They've gotten a lot out of their young first-round picks lately. These players are sure to be future stars but at this point they are not players that Edmonton can hitch its wagon to and expect to go far.
Don't get me wrong—Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are phenomenal players and are sure to have great careers. But a team this young and inexperienced cannot and will not have consistent success through a grueling regular season.
When you consider that only 10 of the 23 Oilers on the roster have scored (and over half of the team's points have been scored by those three youngsters), it is hard to imagine Edmonton staying at the top of their division.
Nikolai Khabibulin has also been nothing short of his nickname, "Bulin Wall." But his .964 save percentage is too good to last.
This team has a bright future ahead of it but this quick start to the season is a bit too hot for them to continue.
Toronto Maple Leafs
This was a hard decision as I like how the Toronto Maple Leafs have looked so far.
It's also good to see Phil Kessel doing so well.
As I see it, this isn't a question of Toronto fading—they will continue to be a good team this year—but it's a question of them staying this hot. Toronto is a solid club but has been overachieving so far in 2011.
The Leafs have a history of starting the regular season really well and then fading towards the end of the season. As in past years, Toronto's early season hot streak will not last.
After the first two games of the season, it seemed like the Washington Capitals may have made a big mistake in trading away Semyon Varlamov. However, after three more games, the rest of the league outside of Washington may finally be realizing how streaky of a player Varlamov is.
Also, let's not think about what will happen if Varlamov, as he normally does, gets a hip or knee injury that takes him out of commission for a while.
Colorado is like Edmonton in that it has a lot of young talent and potential. However, the Avalanche are a team that has gotten a little ahead of themselves starting this season.
This stunning start is sure to fade—they're already showing signs of trailing off a bit.
I love how this team's future is starting to look but they are not going to be this hot the rest of the season.