Rangers, Canadiens among five NHL teams that need to get their act together
Montreal can't score, New York's defense is in disarray and the Oilers are supremely underwhelming
But others -- including some preseason picks for deep playoff runs -- are stumbling out of the gate.
Here are five clubs that need to get their act together after the opening weeks of the season:
Their offseason suggested 2017-18 would be something of a make-or-break year after longtime defenseman Andrei Markov and veteran scorer Alexander Radulov departed for greener pastures. So far, it's broken.
A 1-3-1 start has been as bad, if not worse, than it sounds thanks to Montreal's inability to light the lamp, and there's not much on the roster that indicates a turnaround of epic proportions is on the way. Perhaps only a trade will do that. Jonathan Drouin is in house, yes, but that hasn't stopped the Canadiens from averaging less than two goals per game. Carey Price hasn't always been himself, either. Before they close a daunting road trip, their standing in the Atlantic figures to look even worse.
Well, this isn't going as planned. Out of all teams on the list of troubled early-season contenders, the Oilers have had the most disconcerting start. That's partly because their tag-team duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl led to widespread Stanley Cup hype before the season, and it's partly because Draisaitl, a new member of Injured Reserve, is now leaving a lineup desperately in need of a wake-up call. Injuries have taken their toll, career numbers from core players are on pace for drastic dips, and Cam Talbot has been cause for concern in the net. When McDavid headlines your team, you need to be scoring, and they aren't. No one anticipated a 1-4 start, and Edmonton has a tough stretch ahead, too.
Their record isn't as horrifying as some of the Eastern Conference's surprise duds, but for a team that's been best friends with division titles and figured to headline the West in 2017-18, the Ducks are lacking juice.
Yes, they're banged up, and that has to be taken into consideration. But does "banged up" still warrant a 3-1 loss to the ... Buffalo Sabres? They're averaging just about two goals per game, which has to change. The best thing Anaheim has been doing of late is killing penalties, which are also problematic for an undisciplined club if the goal is to stay afloat in a division headlined by rising talent (Calgary Flames) and comeback candidates (Los Angeles Kings).
Unfortunately for them, we're not so sure there is much of an act to be gotten together here. Their 0-5-1 start already makes them an easy choice for worst in the league, and they're in a division that's loaded with either overachieving playoff hopefuls or preseason Cup favorites who are bound to keep improving. But we'd be remiss if we didn't remind you that Arizona approached the 2017-18 season with at least some of its sights set on an immediate run at the postseason. You don't go trading for Derek Stepan and Niklas Hjalmarsson if you plan to toil in the cellar of the Pacific. Rick Tocchet's got to do something.
Stepan hasn't exactly lit the world on fire in his new home, but his absence from New York's lineup has forced Alain Vigneault to tweak the faces on offense. And the other side of the ice is worse.
Save for a shutout against the Habs, Henrik Lundqvist has been trying to counter disarray from his own blue-line teammates as much as shots from opposing teams. Predictably, it's not working well. The Rangers, complete with prized but underachieving offseason acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk, are a mess on defense, giving up way more goals than they're scoring. In case you forgot, that's not a formula for winning. Who could've foreseen a 1-5 start?
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