Written by Tony Pomposelli, GM Saskatchewan Snipers
Winnipeg Winterhawks: 3-1 in October
Wins: 113-54 vs. Saskatchewan, 226-155 vs. Portland, 188-178 vs. Boulder
Losses: 153-114 vs. Northwest
Upside: Winnipeg leads the West in goals scored, with 7 players potting 5+. There's only 38 of those in the NHL. Top-scoring team in the West.
Downside: On the other side of things, the team's not blocking many shots and if the recent injury to Carey Price is lengthy, a bumpy road's ahead.
Alaska Huskies: 3-1 in October
Wins: 107-98 v. Northwest. 178-147 vs. Saskatchewan, 154-138 vs. Edmonton
Losses: 187-164 vs. Saskatchewan
Upside: Corey Crawford + Martin Jones=a tandem that ties league lead for wins. Most blocked shots in the West & second-most points scored as well.
Downside: A slightly mediocre offense, though not terrible (but looks worse next to the defense). Krejci, Ovechkin, Callahan=55% of team's goals.
Saskatchewan Snipers: 2-2 in October
Wins: 133-108 vs. Calgary, 187-164 vs. Alaska
Losses: 113-54 vs. Winnipeg, 178-147 vs. Alaska
Upside: Snipers defense is good: top-four team in blocked shots, tied for the lead with goalie wins & field the second-highest scoring d-man. (Josi)
Downside: No team has scored less than the Snipers, who are the worst in the league with 23 goals. A lacking offense is really the biggest issue.
Northwest Narwhals: 1-3 in October
Wins: 153-114 vs. Winnipeg
Losses: 107-98 vs. Alaska, 129-120 vs. Seattle, 125-111 vs. Winnipeg
Upside: Good offensive corps of Tarasenko, Hall & Smith. Northwest has allowed fewest points scored in West, and though 1-3, lost all by 14 or less.
Downside: The Narwhals fail to capitalize on allowing the fewest points, scoring more points than only 1 team in the West. Depth concerns exist too.
Edmonton Kodiaks: 2-2 in October
Wins: 127-67 vs. Vancouver, 171-136 vs. Boulder
Losses: 166-159 vs. Houston. 154-138 vs. Alaska
Upside: Strong top-5 offense led by MacKinnon, Malkin and Parise. The team's a top-5 placer in just about every major category. What's not to like?
Downside: A couple of underproducing players, but outside of the couple of bad bounces that just went the other way, this team is better than record.
Calgary Stallions: 2-2 in October
Wins: 121-90 vs. Boulder, 153-127 vs. Vancouver
Losses: 134-129 vs. Vancouver, 133-108 vs. Saskatchewan
Upside: 3rd-most goals scored on an offense led by Turris and Jagr. Defense has also allowed fewer points to be scored than all but 2 teams in West.
Downside: Ten goalie starts only yields two wins. The defense is worrisome: they're last in blocked shots & lack a player with 3.5+ PPG on the roster.
Vancouver Lumberjacks: 2-2 in October
Wins: 134-129 vs. Calgary, 125-111 vs. Northwest
Losses: 127-67 vs. Edmonton, 153-127 vs. Calgary
Upside: Ryan O'Reilly with a monster year (4-9-13 in 12 games) alongside Jeff Carter (4-6-10 in 10 games). Kris Russell killing it with 43 blocks.
Downside: Very anemic offense: 13th in goals scored, 15th in assists & dead last in total points scored this year. Absence of depth beyond big names.
Boulder Beasts: 1-3 in October
Wins: 150-123 vs. New Orleans
Losses: 121-90 vs. Calgary, 188-178 vs. Winnipeg, 171-136 vs. Edmonton
Upside: 2nd-highest goals scored in the West, helmed by Kuznetsov, Pavelski and Benn. Burns & Seabrook also strong on D, averaging 4.5+ PPG.
Downside: Depthwise, Burns & Seabrook are all the defense has right now. Allowed second-most points scored in the West, despite being top-5 scorers.
Seattle Aviators: 4-0 in October
Wins: 101-99 vs. Hawaii, 129-120 vs. Northwest, 199-147 vs. Houston, 141-131 vs. Portland
Upside: A solid offense, a decent defense, and a 4-0 record for the Aviators--that sounds like the month of October was an upside all on its own.
Downside: While they're 4-0, there's concern with consistency/sustainable production & goaltending. If big gun Schneider goes down things could sour.
California Wave: 2-2 in October
Wins: 184-159 vs. Hawaii, 144-103 vs. Hawaii
Losses: 107-93 vs. Portland, 145-128 vs. New Orleans
Upside: California fields Steven Stamkos on their roster--and has 5 skaters on their team with a higher PPG than the Bolts stud. The Wave run deep.
Downside: Splitting October while only getting wins against struggling Hawaii won't cut it in a division that no longer seems to be a 2-horse race.
Portland Pioneers: 2-2 in October
Wins: 107-93 vs. California, 134-127 vs. Salt Lake City
Losses: 226-155 vs. Winnipeg, 141-131 vs. Seattle
Upside: While Portland isn't dominating the standings, they're consistent and competitive, and that's a large step forward from previous seasons.
Downside: There are concerns about where the points are coming from on the team, as the offense isn't scoring the goals & the defense isn't blocking.
Hawaii Honu: 1-3 in October
Wins: 156-112 vs. Texas
Losses: 101-99 vs. Seattle, 184-159 vs. California, 144-103 vs. California
Upside: Hawaii has a fun story on their team, with their two best skaters being a hotly prized rookie (McDavid) along with a grizzled vet (Streit).
Downside: The Honu has the second-lowest goals scored in the West, making offense a concern. Also, while 8 goalie wins is good, 9 starts isn't.
New Orleans Gators: 3-1 in October
Wins: 76-73 vs. Salt Lake City, 145-128 vs. California, 138-127 vs. Houston
Losses: 150-123 vs. Boulder
Upside: Near the top of crop with assists and power play points, New Orleans is led by Trocheck. While not big with PPG, team isn't thin either.
Downside: Not buoyed by the goaltending (4 wins) or their second-to-last place in goals scored & points as well. Only Northwest allowed fewer points.
Salt Lake City Scorpions: 2-2 in October
Wins: 175-145 vs. Texas, 171-136 vs. Texas
Losses: 76-73 vs. New Orleans, 134-127 vs. Portland
Upside: Two close losses=Salt Lake City's 2-2 is positively misleading. Stars players (Spezza, Seguin, Niemi) lead the way with Toews & Marchand.
Downside: Forward lineup is hobbled: injuries to Drouin, Datsyuk, Barkov, non-production from Perry. Poor performance from Varlamov also an anchor.
Houston Hellcats: 1-3 in October
Wins: 166-159 vs. Edmonton
Losses: 133-90 vs. Texas, 199-147 vs. Seattle, 138-127 vs. New Orleans
Upside: Worthy defense with young gun Parayko's youth countering Beauchemin and Markov (highest-scoring D-man in league). Elders producing like mad.
Downside: While 15 goalie starts ties for the lead, 6 wins is less than stellar. So is their bottom-5 offense & allowing most points scored against.
Texas Outlaws: 1-3 in October
Wins: 133-90 vs. Houston
Losses: 175-145 vs. Salt Lake City, 156-112 vs. Hawaii, 171-136 vs. Salt Lake City
Upside: Monster of a defense here, as everyone but Travis Hamonic is producing north of 3.5 PPG. Led by Ryan Suter, it's pretty much the strong point of the team, though having a strong offense spearheaded by Patrick Kane, Gabriel Landeskog and Nicklas Backstrom certainly doesn't hurt.
Downside: Major reason for Outlaws' struggles: nine goalie starts, two wins. When the goalies improve (and Eberle returns) so does this team.
Tampa Bay Barracudas: 3-1 in October
Wins: 167-140 vs. Washington, 193-164 vs. Hartford, 161-130 vs. Washington
Losses: 106-90 vs. North Carolina
Upside: Tampa Bay's strong start is nothing to scoff at. They're second in goals scored & goaltending wins while also leading the league in points.
Downside: The goaltending is impressive given they have 2 goalies on IR. A few underperformers on the roster, but otherwise the Barracudas are good.
North Carolina Nighthawks: 3-1 in October
Wins: 106-90 vs. Tampa Bay, 163-132 vs. Minnesota, 143-141 vs. Baltimore
Losses: 157-132 vs. New York
Upside: Their wins are a lot like the team: solid but not incredibly flashy. Spezza, MacKinnon, Turris all very capable forwards for North Carolina.
Downside: Outside of Spurgeon, the Nighthawks defense doesn't have a real high-producing PPG player. Also, running only one goaltender is very risky.
Baltimore Blue Crabs: 1-3 in October
Wins: 161-123 vs. Chicago
Losses: 99-88 vs. Washington, 145-127 vs. Boston, 143-141 vs. North Carolina
Upside: Strong corps of Hall, Crosby & Tavares complimenting young and upcoming talent like Domi, Duclair & Draisaitl. Beauchemin star of blueline.
Downside: Lot of young, unproven talent is a risky strategy. Their defense: 6 wins in net rank in the bottom 5, as do their total points & blocks.
Washington Sentinels: 1-3 in October
Wins: 99-88 vs. Baltimore
Losses: 167-140 vs. Tampa Bay, 128-117 vs. Philadelphia, 161-130 vs. Tampa Bay
Upside: A strong defense spearheaded by Carlson puts Washington in the top 4 for blocked shots & is a strong bright side for this struggling squad.
Downside: Four wins from 14 goalie starts is devastating for the Sentinels, as is their bottom-3 total points scored and bottom-4 goals scored.
St. Louis Archers: 4-0 in October
Wins: 105-104 vs. Minnesota, 142-137 vs. Milwaukee, 154-146 vs. Montreal, 168-144 vs. Milwaukee
Upside: The only 4-0 team in the East, St. Louis has scored the second-most points in the East, along with the most goals in the conference.
Downside: Their defense has been less than stellar, as their goaltending (12 starts, 5 wins) is lagging, and they've blocked 4th fewest shots in East.
Chicago Hitmen: 2-2 in October
Wins: 123-106 vs. Milwaukee, 148-117 vs. Hamilton
Losses: 161-123 vs. Baltimore, 184-78 vs. Minnesota
Upside: Relatively decent roster in terms of depth, with few players below 3.0 PPG. Parise and Stafford lead in goals, Streit leading on defense.
Downside: Bottom of the pack with assists & goaltending starts & a bottom-5 with power play points. Chicago also scored the least points in the East.
Minnesota Mammoths: 1-3 in October
Wins: 184-78 vs. Chicago
Losses: 104-105 vs. St. Louis, 163-132 vs. North Carolina, 186-142 vs. Detroit
Upside: Game lost via tiebreaker means Minnesota could be 2-2. Benn, Zuccarello been huge at F, big reason why they're in the top-5 of goals scored.
Downside: Dragging a little on power play points, as only 2 teams have less. Also, 14 goalie starts and only 6 wins is a little less than ideal.
Milwaukee Lagers: 1-3 in October
Wins: 145-133 vs. Halifax
Losses: 123-106 vs. Chicago, 142-137 vs. St. Louis, 168-144 vs. St. Louis
Upside: The Lagers rank in top-3 goals scored on this roster with Kane, Kuznetsov and others. Also part of 4-way logjam for top-3 goaltending wins.
Downside: Milwaukee is a bottom-5 team with assists and power play points. They've also allowed more points scored than all but two teams in the East.
Boston Colonials: 3-1 in October
Wins: 192-153 vs. Hartford, 145-127 vs. Baltimore, 162-116 vs. Hartford
Losses: 123-43 vs. Philadelphia
Upside: Boston's D corps of Russell, Ristolainen and Wideman lead the Colonials defense to top-3 spot for blocks. Allowed 5th-fewest points scored.
Downside: What's hurting the Colonials the most is the lack of effective goaltending: 13 goalie starts, two wins (tied for last in the East) to show.
New York Guardians: 2-2 in October
Wins: 157-132 vs. North Carolina, 151-117 vs. Philadelphia
Losses: 93-77 vs. Hartford, 187-134 vs. Montreal
Upside: Lots of consistent performers for New York, who field only 5 skaters with <3.0 PPG. O'Reilly, Jagr, Vanek leading F, Karlsson big on D.
Downside: Only one team has scored less goals than the Guardians, who only have 22. Despite 7 wins, there's a little lack of starts (only 10 so far).
Philadelphia Aces: 2-2 in October
Wins: 123-43 vs. Boston, 128-117 vs. Washington
Losses: 139-131 vs. Hamilton, 151-117 vs. New York
Upside: The Aces have scored the 4th-most goals in the East & also have least points scored against them. Plekanec an early surprise. (5-7-12 in 13)
Downside: Philadelphia has less assists and power play points than all but one team, and have only outscored three teams in the East.
Hartford Mariners: 1-3 in October
Wins: 93-77 vs. New York
Losses: 192-153 vs. Boston, 193-164 vs. Tampa Bay, 162-116 vs. Hartford
Upside: Hartford paces the league with the most assists & power play points out East. Zetterberg, Hudler, Markov big contributors on assist/PPP.
Downside: The Mariners have allowed more points than any other team in the East, won the fewest goalie starts, & are a bottom-three team in blocks.
Detroit Chargers: 3-1 in October
Wins: 105-81 vs. Montreal, 163-152 vs. Halifax, 186-142 vs. Minnesota
Losses: 178-110 vs. Halifax
Upside: Detroit has scored the 3rd-most points in the East while blocking more shots than all but 1 team. They've also got the 3rd-most goalie wins.
Downside: The Chargers are a bottom-5 team in goals scored & they've also allowed the 4th-most points to be scored. Depth really falls off in lineup.
Montreal Olympiques: 2-2 in October
Wins: 187-134 vs. New York, 148-129 vs. Hamilton
Losses: 105-81 vs. Detroit, 154-146 vs. St. Louis
Upside: No team has more goalie starts/wins than the Olympiques, with 16 & 10. They're also in the top 5 for blocked shots, assists & points scored.
Downside: Montreal is 3rd-worst in goals scored in the East. Perry's 3 assists in 11 games is the only major blemish on an otherwise solid roster.
Hamilton Steelcats: 2-2 in October
Wins: 95-80 vs. Halifax, 139-131 vs. Philadelphia
Losses: 148-117 vs. Chicago, 148-129 vs. Montreal
Upside: The Steelcats have allowed the 2nd-fewest points scored, are 1 of 4 teams with 8 goalie wins & have 2 players with 10 A (Hedman, Hanzal).
Downside: Lots of tough injuries to E. Kane, Barkov, Hanzal. Hamilton's 21 goals are fewest in East, 45 assists are bottom-3. 2nd-least points scored.
Halifax Dragons: 1-3 in October
Wins: 178-110 vs. Detroit
Losses: 95-80 vs. Hamilton, 163-152 vs. Detroit, 145-133 vs. Milwaukee
Upside: Halifax is among the top 5 in goalie wins and have also allowed the 4th-fewest points in the East. 4 players with 5+ G make a deep offense.
Downside: One goaltender is always a concern, regardless of performance. Eberle and Green injuries hurt too. Dragons have blocked least shots in East.
Moscow Cosmonauts: 4-0 in October
Wins: 93-79 vs. Quebec, 187-178 vs. Helsinki, 172-125 vs. Stockholm, 153-148 vs. Quebec
Upside: The Cosmonauts scored the most goals in the World, blocked the 3rd-most shots, and has scored the 2nd-most points while allowing 4th-fewest.
Downside: Moscow's sitting incredibly pretty, no lower than 7th in major stat areas. This team is for real, and only the recent Price injury stings.
Stockholm Hammers: 3-1 in October
Wins: 120-94 vs. Helsinki, 123-97 vs. Quebec, 138-119 vs. Helsinki
Losses: 172-125 vs. Moscow
Upside: The Hammers have been stingy on the defense, allowing the fewest points scored. Kane/McDavid/Ehlers is a nasty one-two-three on offense.
Downside: Lacking in the defense with blocked shots, Stockholm has less than any other team. They've also scored 3rd-fewest points in league.
Helsinki Lynx: 1-3 in October
Wins: 173-133 vs. Quebec
Losses: 120-94 vs. Stockholm, 187-178 vs. Moscow, 138-119 vs. Stockholm
Upside: The Lynx are a top-5 team in goals, assists, points scored & goalie wins. Some of their early struggles can be blamed on a hard first month.
Downside: That said, not all of those struggles can be--Helsinki's defense is a struggle, having blocked 3rd-fewest shots & allowing 2nd-most points.
Quebec Armada: 0-4 in October
Losses: 93-79 vs. Moscow, 123-97 vs. Stockholm, 173-133 vs. Helsinki, 153-148 vs. Moscow
Upside: Neal's doing great this season, as is Landeskog & Carter. Close game against dominant Moscow. Quebec's best stat: 7th most points allowed.
Downside: Let's just call it October, as nearly every stat sees the beleaguered Armada in the bottom 5. Quebec has scored fewest points in World.
London Royal HC: 2-2 in October
Wins: 81-60 vs. Crete, 169-161 vs. Geneva
Losses: 154-120 vs. Munich, 182-150 vs. Osaka
Upside: London's defense has blocked the most shots in the World on the backs of Josi, De Haan, Russell. One of 4 teams with 7 wins in net.
Downside: Surprisingly, outside of the upsides, Royal HC is ranked in the bottom 5 in about every other stat, including dead last in assists/PPP.
Munich Machine: 2-2 in October
Wins: 154-120 vs. London, 163-152 vs. Seoul
Losses: 99-88 vs. Geneva, 158-128 vs. Crete
Upside: Munich's defense is solid, having blocked the 2nd-most shots in the league and allowing the 3rd-least points scored against the Machine.
Downside: 14 goaltending starts shouldn't translate to only 3 wins, but it does here. Munich also struggles on most offensive fronts outside of goals.
Crete Minotaurs: 2-2 in October
Wins: 158-128 vs. Munich, 158-108 vs. Geneva
Losses: 81-60 vs. London, 169-133 vs. Gold Coast
Upside: A mixed bag for the Minotaurs, but highlights include placing 4th in assists & allowing 2nd-fewest points scored. Near-middle for few stats.
Downside: Crete has scored the fewest goals, blocked the 4th-fewest shots, scored 4th-fewest points & have more goalie wins than just 2 teams.
Geneva Mountaineers: 2-2 in October
Wins: 99-88 vs. Munich, 136-120 vs. Auckland
Losses: 169-161 vs. London, 158-108 vs. Crete
Upside: Geneva has allowed 5th-fewest points scored & are one of 4 teams with 7 goalie wins. Tarasenko, Spezza & Marchand are quality contributors.
Downside: The Mountaineers have scored 2nd-least goals, 3rd-least PPP & the 2nd-least points. The offense lacks some depth beyond Tarasenko/Spezza.
Osaka Samurai: 3-1 in October
Wins: 148-115 vs. Gold Coast, 174-123 vs. Auckland, 182-150 vs. London
Losses: 169-126 vs. Seoul
Upside: Osaka's got a good thing going, placing in the top 5 of nearly every major stat, including the most PPP, goalie wins and points scored.
Downside: It's a good thing the Samurai put up more than anyone else, otherwise allowing the 4th-most points scored might be a bigger issue for them.
Seoul Express: 2-2 in October
Wins: 197-152 vs. Gold Coast, 169-126 vs. Osaka
Losses: 122-78 vs. Auckland, 163-152 vs. Munich
Upside: Seoul leads the league in assists, is a top-3 team in PPP, is tied for the most goalie wins, & has scored the 3rd-most points in the World.
Downside: The Express also allowed the 3rd-most points while scoring the 3rd-least goals in the conference. Little scoring beside Tavares/Hall/Little.
Auckland Rockhoppers: 2-2 in October
Wins: 122-78 vs. Seoul, 162-149 vs. Gold Coast
Losses: 174-123 vs. Osaka, 136-120 vs. Geneva
Upside: Auckland's offense is potent: Pacioretty, Parise, Weise and Domi are big reasons why the Rockhoppers have the 2nd-highest goals scored.
Downside: Auckland's biggest struggles are assists and PPP, where they rank 2nd-to-last. Also, 5 goalie wins isn't great and 9 starts is a league-low.
Gold Coast Rush: 1-3 in October
Wins: 169-133 vs. Crete
Losses: 148-115 vs. Osaka, 197-152 vs. Seoul, 162-149 vs. Auckland
Upside: The Rush's offense: 3rd-most goals & assists & 4th-most PPP. All combine to be a big reason why Gold Coast has the 4th-most points scored.
Downside: The Rush's defense is a bit flatter, placing in the bottom 5 for blocks and goaltending wins, but coming in dead last for points allowed.