In This Corner: It’s a long way from June
There are 82 games in a hockey season, a season that extends from October to as late as June with the playoffs.
Right now, the top 10 teams are Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Toronto, Los Angeles, Colorado, Ottawa and Philadelphia.
At this point last season, the top 10 teams were Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Toronto, Washington, Los Angeles, Colorado, Ottawa and Philadelphia.
See a pattern?
All this proves is that these teams, with the exception of Pittsburgh, Washington and Chicago, who are consistently good, have hot starts, but then inevitably fade out before the season gets serious.
Of those teams in the top 10, only Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and Philadelphia made the playoffs. From there, only Washington and Philadelphia made it out of the first round.
The main purpose for doing well at the beginning of the season is to set up a safety buffer should the team run into trouble later in the season.
Two years ago, Washington went on its record-setting 14-game win streak. That streak ensured the team a division title by early March and a Presidents’ Trophy by the end of the month.
However, even with those safety buffers, so much can change. Last season, in the span of a month, Washington went from hanging on to sixth place in the conference to being top in the Eastern Conference.
For now, yes, Toronto is doing well. But the team is starting to falter. The Maple Leafs are putting a lot of pressure on Phil Kessel to carry the team.
Not to say that Kessel is not a good player. He is. But no team can rely on one player, regardless of who they are or how well they play, to take them all the way to the playoffs, much less to a Stanley Cup.
Of course, as much as teams that streak in the beginning of the season can fall by the end, teams that start off slumping can easily move on to greatness.
Last season, San Jose started November in 10th place in Western Conference. The Sharks went on to play for the conference title before falling to the Vancouver Canucks.
In the Eastern Conference, Tampa Bay started November first in the conference.
While the Lightning did end up battling Boston for the conference championship, the team ended the season in fifth place.
For those Bruins fans, whose team sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, don’t worry. The Bruins will get their shit together and be the winning team everyone knows.
However, the season is barely a month old and there’s a long way to go before the Cup is awarded.