While only being a couple of weeks into 2018-19, there's still plenty of intrigue to be discussed. So let's take a look at what the neighbors have been up to!
1st in Atlantic: Toronto Maple Leafs
Games played: 6
Point leader: Auston Matthews
Toronto is every bit the wheelin', dealin', goal scorin' phenoms they were last year. That much hasn't changed. What also hasn't changed much is their defense, which has surrendered at least a pair of goals a game. They however, keep getting bailed out by Auston Matthews, who has come to silence any idea that Connor McDavid ever existed.
Nothing about this should surprise anyone. They're impressive, but mortal. It's all a matter of making them look at way.
Which is of course...the challenge.
2nd in Atlantic: Your Boston Bruins!
Games Played: 5
Points leader: Patrice Bergeron
Regardless of how bad game 1 was, it really feels like the first line never left the ice after last season as Marchand, Pastrnak, and especially Bergeron continue to ravage the NHL without much resistance from...well...anyone. Bergeron in particular seems intent on proving preseason doesnt matter at all. Helping matters are the major strides Matt Grzelcyk has taken in the middle pairing, the strong play of Jaroslav Halak, and in general the team defense coming together as a cohesive unit within a few short days rather than a month or so, frustrating opponents to no end.
But what does this high-octane team do against a truly wacky, miserable slog that somehow gets results like Calgary? That's the question that rings in my mind, and will do so until Wednesday.
3rd in Atlantic: Buffalo Sabres
Games played: 5
Points Leader: Jack Eichel
Hey! Rearranging all those deckchairs at forward and not having replacement level goaltending actually improved things!
Regrettably, the defense is still an utter car wreck, and when the Sabres have lost, they have lost. Time will tell whether or not this "being slightly over .500" thing will just be early season quirks or a trend for the season.
Hard to tell what would push Sabres fans over the edge more, really.
Tied for 4th: Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators
Games Played (Habs): 4
Games Played (Sens): 5
Points Leader (Habs): Jeff Petry, Paul Byron, and Tomas Tatar
Points Leader (Sens):
Hotsam Batcho Thomas Chabot
Surprisingly pretty much everybody, plenty of positives have come out of the last two weeks: the defense hasn't been an utter trainwreck as many assumed it would be, there have been surprisingly strong goaltending performances in spite of real concerns about age and consistency, and the rookies and influx of youth really revitalized the offense!
Which team am I talking about? Yes.
5th in Division - Tampa Bay Lightning
Games Played: 3
Points Leader: Brayden Point
Aside from an abjectly miserable loss to Vancouver in spite of being in the driver's seat for like...almost all of that game, TBL is only here because their schedule in October is very backloaded. They'll probably be third by Halloween as they're still unfairly good.
6th in Division - Detroit Red Wings
Games Played: 5
Points Leader: Dylan Larkin
As I'm sure you saw on Saturday...The Wings are toast. They're absolutely awful at nearly every aspect of the game that doesnt involve having Dylan Larkin. The only reason they aren't at the bottom of the division is because of scheduling and because they've managed to drag a couple of teams to overtime.
7th in Division - Florida Panthers
Games Played: 3
Points Leader: Evgenii Dadonov and Vincent Trocheck
The Panthers are one of those teams who are both criminally unlucky and also carrying some real depth issues, no thanks to injury. Every game they've played, and it isnt many, has had the Panthers mostly control the shot share, but lose by one goal. If they manage to cohere as a defense in the waning minutes of a game, they could be a real challenge. For right now? Not in their cards.
We figure we'll check in on the neighbors every couple of weeks or so, especially as the season wears on and the positioning game starts to become a factor.