Even though we are only three games into the season right now (perhaps four by the time you read this), the St. Louis Blues are off to an excellent start. Sitting at 3-0, with six regulation-earned points to their name, the Blues are off to their best start in decades.
However, for whatever reason, the league still doubts them. Perhaps it is that college football mentality where a team needs to show you something repeatedly and even then you often begrudgingly offer a smidgen of respect.
Power rankings, in and of themselves, are often a foolish way to gauge a professional sports league. More often, it is to spark debate, which it has clearly done.
However, at least in college football, they don’t release the “real” rankings until at least half the season is done. The preseason rankings are based more on name recognition, program prestige and a general feeling of what the team was bringing back and what they brought in.
A preseason power ranking for the NHL is just as useless and just as bias. More proof of bias is clearly shown in the first week of NHL power rankings.
To their credit, the Blues rose four spots due to their hot start. Going from 14 to 10 shouldn’t be something to sneeze at.
It’s the rest of the rankings that are garbage.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-2-0 to start the season. Despite looking rather shaky, even in their wins, they fell from the top spot to number three.
The Colorado Avalanche started the season 1-2-0. They got blown out in their two losses, allowing a combined 11 goals in those two games. They only fell from number two to number six.
These rankings are useless and for fun, but let’s judge things on performance here. The Blues have looked more like the team that won in 2019, while Tampa and Colorado have looked mediocre at best. Those two teams are considered the favorites though, so there’s no way the pundits could even think they’re wrong for one second.
A sensible argument could be that teams did not fluctuate too much from their original spots. That’s not true either though.
Florida jumped six spots to grab the top ranking after starting sixth. Buffalo has the exact same record as the Blues and they went from being unranked (out of the top 16) to 14th. You can argue that could be simply a jump of two or three spots, but I would argue it’s a jump of 18 spots because most people would have ranked Buffalo 32nd coming into the season.
Oddly, the Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting at a respectable 2-1-1 and actually fell from seventh to 12th. I guess if you don’t win all 82 in Toronto, you’re a failure.
Ultimately, nobody should really care about these rankings. Even though I’m writing about them, they don’t affect my actual mood or make me feel any different about any team.
It’s just strange to see so many people vote based on nothing. It’s like watching a national election – it’s just a popularity contest.
Two contributors had Colorado still in their top spot, even though they have not looked great thus far. Yes, they’re missing two key guys, but rank on what has happened, not what might have happened if this or if that.
Many of the contributors had the Blues ranked 12th or 13th. That’s more evidence of Eastern writers not even bothering to watch any game that is out west or doesn’t start by 8pm ET.
While there were several that had the Blues at seventh, or higher, only Nicholas J. Cotsonika that did the respectable thing. He actually ranked most of the undefeated teams in the top 10, with Boston mixed in, and then chose who he thought was better right now out of that. The Blues were number two for him.
A month from now, nobody will care about this. There will be new things to complain about.
Maybe the Blues will rush to the top of the rankings or maybe they hit a losing skid and justify where they were at. The play on the ice will dictate all that.
Let’s not vote just on name recognition though. The NHL has proven that star power doesn’t always win by itself.
Rank the teams based on team play and actual performance instead of how you think things might have gone or how you predicted it before the actual game was played. That’s why they play the games and don’t run simulations.