There’s nothing like the beginning of September for hockey fans. The beginning changes from summer to fall, ice getting laid out into your favorite arena’s, and either everyone hyping up your team or (if you have that one team) getting you prepared for the draft. Then October comes and the regular season begins and for most it’s a fun time as you’re glad hockey is back and your team maybe on a hot streak or a little inconsistent but still doing ok that you’re not yet ready to turn your back on them. Then there’s this next group of teams where they’ve have done so poorly through the first TEN games that you’re already seeing your team in the rumor mill, your jersey is in the middle off the ice because you’ve had enough and now your ready to say goodbye to this years version of your favorite team.
Now there’s three ways to respond to this: “You can’t eliminate teams after ten games!!” Or “Yeah you’re probably right.” Finally: “DUHHH!!” You can in fact start crossing teams off your playoff contention list and this method has been used by me for the last 7-8 years. It’s simple really: With a minimum 15 team conference, no team who has started the season with eight points or less in their first ten games have reached the playoffs. If you want a little positivity, ten years ago the Rangers and Flyers each started the season with six points in their first ten and made the playoffs so you have a 6% chance of your team making the playoffs, however I would like to add that the eastern conference is much better now than it was ten years ago and you would need a conference-wide plague of injuries to have a legit chance.
So who am I eliminating from each conference?
Ottawa Senators 8 points in 10 games: I was really rooting for the Senators this year as they have been on this list now for the last five seasons and even though they probably won’t make the playoffs, I still think they can come back to be competitive and have better second half season try to inspire the fans and have them look forward to next season.
Pittsburgh Penguins 8 points in 10 games: Are you going to ask the oldest team in the NHL not to get injured for the rest of the season and go on a 115 point pace for the next 70 games with that defensive group? That’s what it would take for this team to get a wild card spot as of this writing.
San Jose Sharks 1 point in 10 games: This is our “DUHHH!!!” moment, but still this is embarrassing. This goes beyond playing for a pride. Time to create an Identity.
Edmonton Oilers 5 points in 10 games: If there is any team who can change this paradigm it’s the Oilers, but they’ve should’ve traded for a goalie about six games ago. Now may be time to see if McDavid really wants to be traded and build your team around Draisaitl.
Calgary Flames 5 points in 10 games: Pick Calgary to make the playoffs one time and they miss the playoffs? Shame on them. Pick them twice in a row? Shame on me. If they can start trading veteran players for some younger players who could be ready now, the Flames can still make a season out of this.
Chicago Blackhawks 8 points in 10 games: Learning curve for this team as most of the veterans won’t be around in two years anyways. Let Bedard grow and evolve his game.
Seattle Kraken 8 points in 10 games: After a stellar season last year the Kraken have so far slipped a bit. Could a trade or two make them playoff contenders again?
Minnesota Wild 8 points in 10 games: See Seattle. Cap constraints are really looking tough on the Wild right now.
Nashville Predators 8 points in 10 games: Barry Trotz will keep this team competitive for as long as he can this season, but if he can make a good trade for the future he should jump on that opportunity.
The western conference has a chance to change the paradigm of eight or less points in ten games since they didn’t become a fifteen team conference until the 2017-18 season but we’ll have to see what direction these teams want to go because their first round opponents will be one of the following: Vegas, Colorado, Los Angeles, Dallas and maybe Vancouver. Is making the playoffs after a very slow start even worth the risk of their future? Maybe for Edmonton, Minnesota or Calgary, but they can’t even get out of their own way right now.
If your team is on this list let me also add this: It doesn’t mean your team is doomed for a 50 or 60 point season, unless you’re San Jose and the goal is 40. I could see the Senators racking up 86 points again and possibly more. I’m still waiting for the Penguins to do their traditional 5 or 6 game winning streak and make a season out of it. Better to leave Alberta alone and just watch what happens from a safe distance and I still think both Seattle and Minnesota could have mid to upper 80 point seasons. So no matter what happens from ten games an moving forward, you have two choices: If you love your team no matter their record then enjoy the rest of the season. If you’re a “playoffs or bust” fan then…..sorry?