The NHL season is nine games old at the most. No team made it to double-digits as far as games played. Being so early, any opinion is going to come off as an overreaction. Still, some are bigger than others.
It seems like half of the league’s analysts, and even some who are known for following other sports, have anointed the Montreal Canadiens the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions. This happens every season. The fact is, there are some teams that need some time to gel. Some have huge pieces that need to find their place within the system. That doesn’t happen in three weeks. The Canadiens didn’t have many major pieces to fit. The only big names they added were Zach Kassian, who is in rehab right now, and Alexander Semin, whose one goal contribution is nothing to write home about. The fact is, the necessary pieces were already in place.
The fact remains, we won’t know a team for sure until the 30-to-40 game mark. Teams fall apart. Teams come together. None of that happens in the first month.
The Canadiens winning the first nine games of the season is impressive. It has never been done. They are on fire right now, but who have they beaten? The only teams they beat on the road were the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres. Every single one of those teams have a worse record than the New Jersey Devils, who many called to have the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
The Canadiens have the benefit of a division that made major changes over the offseason. Outside of Tampa and Montreal, all eight teams are going through transitions.
There is so much coming in the Canadiens’ schedule that could change their season. They have an eight-game road trip in December. No team plays the same after three weeks away from home. They have two west coast road trips in the second half.
Point is, the NHL season is not won in October. It is won in June. Are the Canadiens the best team in the NHL right now? Yes, of course. They haven’t lost, and no other team can say that. There are so many variables that affect what the future holds. The trade deadline almost always affects who becomes champion. Major injuries definitely affect who becomes champ every single season. These are the things one cannot predict. That is why it is reckless to declare the Canadiens the champions.