October 26 2009 11:42AM
It's early. Still, teams that get off to strong starts can protect themselves against injuries and late season slumps, while teams getting off to weak starts can dig themselves a hole that's extremely difficult to climb out of. Are there examples of teams leading the league or dwelling in the basement at this point turning their seasons around? Let's look back over the past three years.
- The Minnesota Wild were undefeated and in command of the Northwest Division, with nearly twice as many goals scored as allowed. They would go on to miss the playoffs.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets were dead last in the Western Conference. They would rally to make their first-ever playoff appearance.
- The New York Rangers were the toast of the league, well ahead of their nearest rivals (Buffalo and San Jose). By the end of the year they would fire their coach and then bow out in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
- The Nashville Predators sat dead last in the Western Conference. They would make the playoffs.
- The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers sat 13th and 14th in the Eastern Conference. They would play each other as the 4th and 5th seeds in the playoffs.
- The Ottawa Senators sat first in the Eastern Conference, with but a single loss to their credit. They would end up firing their coach and bow out in the first round of the NHL playoffs.
- The Atlanta Thrashers were the second-best team in the NHL.
- The Edmonton Oilers were off to a strong start and boasted a perfect home record. They'd finish the year three games under .500 at home and pick Sam Gagner in the entry draft.
- The Minnesota Wild were the best team in the Western Conference. They finished the year in seventh.