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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on which team off to a surprisingly strong start (Edmonton, Anaheim, Buffalo, etc.) is most likely to regress.
I think the Edmonton Oilers are most definitely playing over their heads.
For starters, they’re shooting 16.28%. Last season only the Lightning (12.17SH%) scored on more than 11% of their shots and the talent they have up and down their lineup is so far beyond what the Oilers have. Once the percentages normalize, the Oilers are going to be a lot more vulnerable – especially if Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith post numbers like they did a season ago.
They are also still a mess when Connor McDavid is not on the ice. Even riding these unsustainable percentages, the team’s goal differential is negative without him. That’s a bad sign.
All that aside, the Oilers simply haven’t played anybody good. They have wins over Vancouver, Los Angeles, New Jersey, and both New York teams. How many of those five are going to make the playoffs? One?
Their next few games are against fairly soft opponents as well but I do expect to see a dip in performance sooner than later. Though their strong start gives them a good job at a playoff spot, I still see them as a fringe Wild Card team at best. Don’t buy into their perfect record.
Can I pick all of them as an option?
I was one of the few people who said the Oilers would make the playoffs, but their results are hiding a ton of flaws. They'll be fine, but they sure as hell aren't going to run the table or win the west.
They're 5-0 while putting up some of the worst peripheral stats in town. How long you think that's gonna last? They are about as real as James Neal's shot at the Rocket Richard trophy.
Same thing with the Sabres - they're good, they're not great. Both Edmonton and Buffalo will make the playoffs, so the most unrealistic start is the Ducks, 'cause they won't.
The only team kicking ass that is for real is the Hurricanes, which makes sense because they have one of the best rosters in the NHL.
Best current rivalry in the NHL?
Early season takeaways
Predicting the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Final
Predicting the 2019-20 Western Conference Finals
Predicting the 2019-20 Eastern Conference Finals
Predicting the Pacific Division standings
Predicting the Central Division standings
Predicting the Metro Division standings
Predicting the Atlantic Division standings