NHL Team Report Cards 1 of 4

NHL Quarterly Report Card

Remember back in school when we used to get report cards? The days where our parent(s) would see our scores for individual classes, for some students they loved this day because they had good to great grades typically, and for others it was a nightmare because they typically scored low, or below average with C’s and possibly a D. And then there are the students who did well in all of his/her classes except for that one class, and tried to pass blame off on the teacher.

Now that we revisited this experience to a much lesser extent than we would’ve if it was real, let me tell you why I bring this up. I am going to grade NHL teams though the first quarter of the season, the grades with be A through F except for E since there is no E to my knowledge in school scores. The teams will be judged on Offense, Defense, and Goaltending. And at the end of the blog five teams will get nominated for high honors, these designations are handed out to the teams who have stood out among the rest of the league.

Report Cards

Anaheim Ducks (26-7-5)

Offense: A-|Defense: C|Goaltending: B

The Ducks are getting the job done this year on both ends of the puck, firstly they’re third in the NHL in goals scored. The Defense has been a little loose but I guess that is to be expected from a team that has so many goals. The Ducks at one point were creeping up the list in goals allowed but have stabilized their defense recently, unlike Chicago who lead the league in goals but also are the worst in goals allowed among the teams in the top three in goals for.

Overall the Ducks have set themselves up nicely for success, however they do play in a very tough conference and could end up on the outside looking in if they struggle at any point. I mean I don’t expect that to happen, but if the Western Conference continues at the level it’s being played it, than any team that slips even a little bit would be in trouble.

Boston Bruins (24-10-2)

Offense: B-|Defense: B+|Goaltending: A+

The Bruins are an interesting team, they started out the season very much in a mediocore fashion, but have picked it up as of late especially at home. The offense has been spotty and the defense has been pretty good and goalie Tuukka Rask has been great for a large part of this season. The Bruins have been on a 7-3-0 stretch in their last 10 and have allowed for them to finally come crawling back into the top spot for teams in the Eastern Conference but currently trail the surging Penguins by 5 points.

Overall the Bruins are in good position to make noise in the Eastern Conference, however if they were in the Western Conference they’d only be middle of the pack in that Conference.

The main reason for this is that the West has owned the Eastern Conference in terms of record, but the Bruins are actually pretty decent against the Western Conference to this point.

Buffalo Sabres (9-24-3)

Offense: F|Defense: D|Goaltending: A-

This team is flat out embarrassing their fan base, the Sabres new ownership promised results and when this happened it appeared to be a promise that the owners could keep.

But what they’ve turned into has been a complete utter disaster. Not only do they have a disgraceful record but they also employ three players who are an embarrassment to mankind, never mind to the league between the Patrick Kaleta, Steve Ott and John Scott.

Their best player has been the goalie Ryan Miller, he has put up really good numbers despite being hung out to dry by the team on a nightly basis. It wouldn’t be a surprise if in their wins he got top star in at least half of them that is how bad the Sabres are. Hell he might even get top three player of the game honors in a handful of their losses with the way he has played.

Calgary Flames (13-17-6)

Offense: B|Defense: D|Goaltending: D

The Flames have had a problem with defense in goaltending. I didn’t expect their problems to come from defense, but rather the offense. But it just shows that what you predict in the pre-season might have the exact opposite happen. Calgary has already sort of started selling off with the trade of Mark Giordano to the Oilers.

The Flames have a good future thanks to the 2013 draft where I would classify it as a A rating for the Flames, I said that they needed to nail the draft and I feel like they did a wonderful job.

Carolina Hurricanes (14-14-8)

Offense: D-|Defense: C|Goaltending: B-

The Hurricanes are in an interesting situation because they’ve been neither good and bad all year long. The Hurricanes look like a mediocre team at this point, they need to play much more consistently in order to be a playoff team, especially under the new playoff format.

Chicago Blackhawks (25-7-6)

Offense: A+|Defense: C+|Goaltending: C+

The Blackhawks look really good this year, which should come as no surprise considering they’re the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They’re leading the league in goals, but are 11th worst in goals allowed. That will not fly if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The Blackhawks lead the league in points as well, and deserve to be recognized as such considering they play in a conference that is very deep.

Colorado Avalanche (23-10-2)

Offense: B-|Defense: B+|Goaltending: B

Colorado is one of the best all around teams in the NHL, I think in terms of balance they’re only behind the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche are actually more of defensive team so in that sense they will probably end up being better off than the Blues in the long run. But as it is, the Avalanche are sliding a bit recently and I think that mainly stems from the offense slowing down.

Columbus Blue Jackets (15-17-4)

Offense: D+|Defense: C+|Goaltending: C+

The Blue Jackets have actually been nothing but average, which in the Eastern Conference still isn’t good enough despite the Eastern Conference being the inferior conference to this point. The Blue Jackets have done decently since starting the season at a clip of 5-10-0 and were among the worst in the Eastern Conference.

Dallas Stars (17-12-6)

Offense: B|Defense: C|Goaltending: B-

The Stars have had some good nights on offense, and then some bad nights on offense. And it is weird since there seems to be zero consistency in this team. It is actually kind of funny because if the Stars can find consistent offense they could be a pretty good team and a possible contender.

Detroit Red Wings (17-12-9)

Offense: C|Defense: C|Goaltending: B-

I am having a hard time believing the Red Wings are doing this bad this season. Considering the mere fact that they came over from the Western Conference which is a tougher conference in my opinion so I figured that they’d be able to run over the Eastern Conference and give the elite teams like Pittsburgh and Boston a good run for their money. The problem with the Red Wings seems to be consistency in doing anything.

I think they’ll figure it out and make the playoffs, but currently I am shocked at their success, or lack of success.

Edmonton Oilers (11-24-3)

Offense: C-|Defense: D|Goaltending: F

It isn’t hard to figure out the issue with the Oilers, they have a good offense, but their defense and goaltending just are not getting it done. The Oilers are near the bottom of the NHL standings with seemingly little chance of making the playoffs. Which is a shame because I thought this would be their season to come out and play with the big boys. Part of the problem is the Western Conference is stacked with great teams and they is with the subtraction of Detroit.

The good news for the Oilers is the future is bright, so maybe these losing seasons will end soon. But if not then the Oilers might be wise to try this rebuilding thing again if they continue down this road.

Florida Panthers (14-18-5)

Offense: D|Defense: C-|Goaltending: D

How Florida continues to be close to the .500 mark is beyond me. This team has not been that good all season long, in fact they are probably in the bottom five teams in the NHL. With goaltending that can be described as weak and an offense that isn’t too good, it is a bit of a Godsend that they’re even still in contention.

More worrying to me is that the Panthers do not have too many prospects coming up the pipe. This is pretty much what you see is what you get.

Los Angeles Kings (25-8-4)

Offense: B|Defense: B|Goaltendng: A+

The Kings are playing a very balanced style of hockey, getting good offense but also very good defense and amazing goaltending from injured starter Jonathan Quick and rookie Martin Jones who has been a great story in the NHL to this point.

The Kings have been probably the most balanced team in the NHL to this point which should help them in the long run especially if they can keep it up going into the post-season. However that is still 3 months away and as good as they’ve been, the Western Conference has been just as good.

Minnesota Wild (20-13-5)

Offense: C-|Defense: B+|Goaltending: B+

The Wild have been probably one of the worst offensive teams among the Western Conference playoff contenders but they’ve managed to maintain good defense and goaltending in order to post a winning record and have a solid first half of the season. Josh Harding has stepped up and taken the reigns in net while aging veteran start Niklas Backstrom has faltered this season.

Josh Harding has posted a 18-5-3 record with a 1.51 GAA and a .939 Saves% this season and is a contender for Vezina trophy.

Montreal Canadiens (22-13-3)

Offense: C|Defense: B|Goaltending: A-

The Canadiens are usually using scoring to be successful but they’re 19th in goals for with just 96 goals for but they’ve only allowed 84 thanks to Carey Price and the defense. The Canadiens are getting good goaltending from starter Carey Price who has put up a 17-11-2 record with a 2.10 GAA and a .932 Saves%.

The Canadiens won the Northeast division last season and there were still questions on whether they were for real considering that just the previous season they struggled badly. But now the Canadiens can clearly say they’re legit and should be feared.

Nashville Predators (16-16-4)

Offense: D-|Defense: C-|Goaltending: C

The Predators are an interesting team because they can’t do much right and yet they continue to post a .500% points percentage when stats would indicate that they aren’t that special. But then when you look at their game log they did have a four game losing streak where they were outscored 17-2 with all four of those games coming on the road and three of those games against the Metropolitan division.

The Predators have had injury issues in net like the Kings but unlike the Kings, Nashville hasn’t had a player step up and take the bull by the horns and play solid goal for them.

New Jersey Devils (15-15-7)

Offense: C-|Defense: B|Goaltending B-

The Devils are playing much better after that 1-5-4 record they recorded in their first ten games, in their first 7 games they remained winless. The Devils are in a stretch of 3-0-1 in their last 4 games and have gone 14-10-3 in their last 27 games since that horrific start. The turn around has to do with solid goaltending and more production out of what was once an offense that could have only been described as pathetic.

New York Islanders (10-20-7)

Offense: D+|Defense: F|Goaltending: F

The Islanders have become somewhat of a joke since the Tomas Vanek/Matt Moulson trade. Since the trade the Islanders are 6-16-4 and their whole team has looked absolutely brutal since this deal. I would actually probably put the Islanders last in a power rankings if I was to do one today. Not because the Sabres have been good enough to warrant a jump out of the last spot, but the Islanders have somehow made it hard to ignore them.

I just don’t get it, the Islanders were supposed to be one of the better teams with the addition of Tomas Vanek but they’ve managed to be the exact opposite, it is truly a baffling thing to me.

New York Rangers (17-18-2)

Offense: D|Defense: C+|Goaltending: B-

The reason for such a turn around for the Rangers is solid goaltending and a slightly improving offense. The Rangers are still a team I don’t consider good enough to make a full turn around, but it is a team worth keeping an eye on just because they are so close in the standings in terms of points. They really need to kick the offense into high gear otherwise they might be in bad shape come April.

Ottawa Senators (14-17-7)

Offense: B|Defense: D|Goaltending: D

The Senators are a victim to their team defense and goaltending. Their offense has been just fine, but their D and goalies have been pretty dreadful making the Senators look like a bunch of pretenders at this point. Sure they miss Daniel Alfredsson but they also miss the contributions from injured players at various times this season.

The Senators despite the record and shoddy defense, are just two points out of a playoff spot.

Philadelphia Flyers (16-16-4)

Offense: D+|Defense C|Goaltending C

The Flyers are a tough team to figure out, which thankfully isn’t my job because they’re still a bad offensive team but in some games they’re getting game changing goaltending but in other games they’re getting bad goaltending. They are like the Hurricanes in a way, they are inconsistent and have been for a long time. They are running out of time to find their stride.

The Flyers aren’t even feeding off of the brawl game anymore, they seemed to have gone quiet again on offense, but even when they score now their goaltending seemed to stain the bed.

Phoenix Coyotes (19-10-6)

Offense: A-|Defense: C|Goaltending: C

The Coyotes are not entirely on my radar but I can’t deny they’ve been a nice surprise. They have 110 goals which is a surprising accomplishment considering the fact that they lack that big name goal scorer.

Shane Doan is a long time Coyote and a potential Hall of Famer, and I would love to see that for Doan. Doan leads the Coyotes in goals with 12 goals. Radim Vrbata is also a great addition to the team, he leads the team in points with 27 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins (27-10-1)

Offense: A-|Defense: B+|Goaltending: A-

The Penguins are on a 7 game winning streak and are 9-0-1 in their last ten games. The Penguins lead the Eastern Conference by 5 points over second place Boston Bruins. The Bruins and Penguins are the two stand out teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins have been getting contributions from every one on their team from Crosby to Malkin to Kunitz to Neal, there is really no one on Pittsburgh struggling which is good considering the Penguins have yet to have a consistent roster in awhile thanks to injuries and suspensions.

San Jose Sharks (22-8-6)

Offense: B+|Defense: B+|Goaltending: B

The Sharks started the season on a roll and had at one point had a 19-3-5 record and lead the league in points. The Sharks are slowing down but have a great shot to make the playoffs just because they started so well.

This is the concern for me, will the Sharks be able to pick it up again? This seems to be a common theme for the Sharks, and it is a little bit of a history for them and I think they need to be more committed to playing a hard nosed game like it seems to be during the first month of the season. The Sharks then seem to get complacent with starting the season on a hot streak and then just letting up as the season goes on. So come playoff time, the Sharks never seem to live up to their talent level, and it is a shame because they are a talented team and it would be nice to see them prove it in games that matter.

St. Louis Blues (24-7-4)

Offense: A-|Defense: A-|Goaltending: B+

I am a big fan of this St. Louis Blues team, they are the most impressive team in the league in my opinion, they rank second in goals and third in goals allowed. The Blues might not be at the top in points, but it is hard to imagine they’d be anywhere but first place if every team had played the same amount of games. That is how good this Blues team is. And if you haven’t watched this team, you should try to, they are awesome to watch especially when they face a rival.

Tampa Bay Lightning (22-11-3)

Offense: C|Defense: B+|Goaltending: B+

The Lightning are a good team, they have weathered the Steven Stamkos injury beautifully. Stamkos is still going to be out another month or two but they Lightning should be able to do this if they play good team defense.

The Lightning will probably slow down a little in terms of wins, but the Lightning are in good shape at this point to make the playoffs, and even if they slow down a little they’re likely to still sport a solid record for when Stamkos returns to the Lightning’s line-up.

Toronto Maple Leafs (18-16-4)

Offense: B+|Defense: D|Goaltending: C-

The Maple Leafs started the season on fire, and with something to prove, they started 6-1-0 and looked to be one of the powerhouse teams in the league never mind the Eastern Conference. But then they started to falter after that and the Maple Leafs are a sub-.500 record now.

I do think the Maple Leafs are a solid team, but they need to be better defensively and get better goaltending from James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier. Guys like Kessel and Van Riemsdyk are most like are going to keep scoring, but the defense and goaltending might be the reason the Maple Leafs fail to go deep into the playoffs assuming they’re good enough to make it.

Vancouver Canucks (22-11-6)

Offense: B|Defense: B-|Goaltending: B+

The Canucks started out deently but definitely have stepped it up as of late. 9-2 in their last 11 games. If the season ended today you almost want the Canucks and Penguins to play in the finals just to see which team can keep it up.

The Canucks however do play in a division with the Flames, and the Oilers  so it is harder to believe the Canucks are a legit team when the competition isn’t near what it should be mainly because of those two teams.

Washington Capitals (19-13-4)

Offense: B+|Defense: D|Goaltending: D

The Capitals are doing well this season thanks in large part to the video game type numbers Alexander Ovechkin is putting up in the NHL now. The NHL could see it’s first 50 goals in 50 team games feat since the 1991-1992 season when the great Brett Hull did it for the St. Louis Blues.

Other than AO the Capitals would be in trouble, he has single-handedly kept the Capitals in the playoff race with timely goals and big performances. However I have a hard time buying into a player who has 30 goals and a -12 plus/minus rating.

I think once AO starts to tamper off so will the Washington Capitals. And if he stays hot all year we could see a 70 goal scorer, he has been that good offensively.

Winnipeg Jets (16-17-5)

Offense: C|Defense: C+|Goaltending: C+

The Jets are a team that is mediocre, not great but yet not terrible. I think there is a good amount of talent on the Jets. But when I look at this team, I have a hard time buying into whatever it is the Jets are trying to sell.

However I think part of the problem for this team stems from the talent that is within the division being Chicago, St. Louis and Colorado are all in Winnipeg’s division and Winnipeg had a hard time in what used to be the Southeast division against Washington, Florida, Carolina, and Tampa Bay, and none of those teams are what I consider playoff locks if they were to be put in super divisions. And now that the Jets are in such an amazingly gifted division they’ve suffered for it a little, but I think actual skill on their team is another issue all in itself.

Honor Roll

1. St. Louis Blues

It is hard not to put the Blues on top, they’ve been the most impressive team to me in the NHL to this point. No one really saw this coming. Starting the season you know they’d be good, but no one that I’ve heard thought that they would excel at this level. It is really nice to see.

2. Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim offense has been stellar this year as have their goalies. The Ducks are leading the NHL in points and have been amazing all season long and there appears to be no slow down in sight. The Ducks could be a team to watch especially if they can keep it up throughout the season.

3. Chicago Blckhawks

The defending Stanley Cup Champions are playing like a team that wants to be the first repeat champion since 1996-1997 and 1997-1998 when Detroit did it, both by 4 game sweeps believe it or not of the Flyers and Capitals respectively. The Blackhawks unlike 2010 have most of their championship in tact which means they could very well repeat. Which could be their third since 2010.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins

With Sidney Crosby playing at the level he is and having the help of Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz. The offense and defense are both playing in sync. They are going to be a tough team to beat in the playoffs. But I would love to see an Eastern Conference Finals between the Bruins and Penguins. I mean sure there is bias here, but it would be an amazing series.

5. Boston Bruins

The Bruins for awhile looked to be a team that was dealing with confidence issues, but lately they’ve been a very consistent team which is a good thing for Bruins fans. And to think they’re playing so well and Jarome Iginla hasn’t really taken off yet, the thought of that is scary to consider.


Posted on December 23, 2013, in All Sports, Hockey, National Hockey League and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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