It may still be early, but history has proven time and again that for teams with Stanley Cup hopes and, more importantly, the burden of great expectations, it is never too early to panic.
It’s just a little more difficult to do it in the restrictive salary cap world of the new NHL. But the pursuit of the big prize, or in most cases the pressure to win the big prize and preserve employment, often drives teams to make some curious moves. And now that parity has a grip on the NHL, well, there are more teams with those high hopes.
Remember what happened last spring? While the top four seeds in the Western Conference “held the serve" in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs – and numbers one and two won the conference semi-finals – it was entirely different in the East.
Indeed, in the first round the sixth (Boston), seventh (Philadelphia) and eighth (Montreal) seeds upset the top three seeds – Washington, New Jersey and Buffalo – with only Pittsburgh surviving; and they fell to the Canadiens in the second round.
And it was the Flyers who, with the same number of points as the eighth seed, needed a shootout win just to get into the playoffs. And these guys advanced to the Stanley Cup final. Go figure.