Welcome to our first Divisional Power Rankings of the 2020-21 season. Typically this has been the Pacific Division Rankings but this year we get to have some fun and rank the other Canadian teams. Anyways without any further delay, here’s the first Canadian Division Power Rankings of the season!
1. Toronto Maple Leafs (3-1-0)
Upcoming Games: 01/20 vs EDM, 01/22 vs EDM, 01/24 at CGY, 01/26 at CGY
The Leafs have gotten off to a strong start this season despite some questions swirling regarding their netminding. After giving up four and five goals respectively in his first two starts, there were questions about Frederik Andersen, but he did a job stomping those out with 27 saves on 28 shots against Winnipeg on Monday. The Leafs seem to be loading up their big guns to start the season with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner averaging about 24 minutes a night which is ridiculous for a forward. They are a very top heavy team, but that top is good enough to win on most nights.
2. Calgary Flames (2-0-1)
Upcoming Games; 01/24 vs TOR, 01/26 vs TOR
The Flames are in the midst of an odd five day break to start the season after picking up five of a possible six points in their first three games. With the exception of the first period against Vancovuer and the second period against Winnipeg, the Flames have looked very solid top to bottom and new addition Jacob Markstrom looks to be providing that stable #1 the franchise has craved for so long. Through three starts he has a .935 SV% and a 1.99 GAA and a shutout. The decision to split up Lindholm from last year’s top line and move him to center also seems to be paying early dividends.
3. Montreal Canadiens (2-0-1)
Upcoming Games: 01/20 at VAN, 01/21 at VAN, 01/23 at VAN
I have to say that I was a doubter of the Canadiens coming into the season, but so far things are looking very good for the Habs. While perhaps they were just taking advantage of an Edmonton team that looks utterly discombobulated, they still have looked like they’re ready to push into being a consistent playoff team. Youngster Nick Suzuki looks like a star in the making and they continue to get solid depth contributions in their lineup as they present a balanced attack. Couple that with two very good goaltenders and Montreal will not be an easy out in any game this season. I toyed with putting them at #1 or #2 because they probably deserved to beat Toronto in the season opener, but for now I put them at #3.
4. Winnipeg Jets (2-1-0)
Upcoming Games: 01/21 at OTT, 01/23 vs OTT, 01/24 vs EDM, 01/26 vs EDM
Like a lot of people in the hockey world, I still don’t exactly know what the Jets are at this point. They have an elite group of top six forwards, a pretty good top defence pairing, and an elite goaltender, but the drop off on their depth is sharp and severe. So far they’ve allowed three goals in every game but managed to outscore that twice in overtime victories. Having Connor Hellebuyck will allow the Jets to squeak out some 3-2 or 2-1 games they might not otherwise be able to, but if he and Laurent Brossoit are allowing 3+ goals consistently, I just don’t think there’s enough depth for the Jets to do well if other teams can match up their top lines effectively.
5. Ottawa Senators (1-1-1)
Upcoming Games: 01/21 vs WPG, 01/23 at WPG, 01/25 at VAN
I think the Senators are a better team this year than last, and won’t be an easy out for any of their opponents but I just don’t know how sustainable their strong start may be. They have an intriguing mix of complementary veteran pieces alongside developing younger players but at this point they lack a game breaking player right now. That’s not to say a young guy like Tim Stutzle won’t develop into that later in the season, but for now without that kind of guy, I see the Sens flirting around .500 most of the season.
6. Vancouver Canucks (1-3-0)
Upcoming Games: 01/20 vs MTL, 01/21 vs MTL, 01/23 vs MTL, 01/25 vs VAN
The Canucks are a hard team to judge because they went roaring out of the gates on opening night, looking much like the team that pushed Vegas to seven games in the 2nd round, but have since lost three straight looking like a team still trying to fill the holes left by multiple departures. The Canucks have a plethora of young talent, especially up front, but I think it’s going to take them time to adjust along with getting Thatcher Demko settled in. Nils Hoglander looks like he might be very good very soon, so he’s a name to watch progress over the season as he settles into the NHL game. A six game homestand should allow them to rebound record-wise over the next couple of weeks.
7. Edmonton Oilers (1-3-0)
Upcoming Games: 01/20 at TOR, 01/22 at TOR, 01/24 at WPG, 01/26 at WPG
Things are a little chaotic to open the season in Edmonton. With Mike Smith having an injury and Anton Forsberg being claimed on waivers, the Oilers currently have Mikko Koskinen and that’s pretty much it in net for them. Back to back lackluster losses at home to Montreal with only one goal scored in each really shows a level of frustration amongst the fans as the Oilers continue to roll with guys like Alex Chiasson on their top powerplay unit or Zach Kassian alongside Connor McDavid. This is a team with not-great defence or goaltending, and they’re going to need to outscore their problems to win games. That’s not really going to happen if they’re shooting themselves in the foot. Despite it being early, this four game road trip in Toronto and Winnipeg could sink their season if they only get 1 win or less as it’s going to be extremely difficult to make up ground this season.