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North Division Panic Meter: The Ottawa Effect & Never Change, Edmonton

Is the crisis over for the Vancouver Canucks?

NHL: JAN 27 Senators at Canucks
Vancouver Canucks Left Wing Tanner Pearson (70) is shoved by Ottawa Senators Left Wing Nick Paul (13) during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on January 27, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nothing like a little dose of the Ottawa Senators to make you feel better about your game.

After beginning the season with two wins in seven games, the Canucks should be feeling better about themselves after beating the Senators in three straight games by a combined score of 16-3.

There were a lot of glaring issues with the Canucks prior to this three-game stretch. The Lotto Line was in a funk, the goaltending was suspect, and they profiled as one of the worst defensive teams in hockey.

However, the Canucks performance against the Sens wasn’t completely dominant. They were outshot in every single contest and relied on stellar goaltending to win blowout games.

So, are you keeping the panic button by your side? Here’s where Vancouver’s panic level should reside compared to the rest of Canada.

7. Montreal Canadiens (5-0-3, 13 points, 2nd in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: Almost everything has gone right for Montreal early in the season. Probably the biggest revelation though has been their dominant offensive attack. Newcomers Josh Anderson & Tyler Toffoli have combined for 10 goals in 7 games, and 10 players on the roster have at least five points already.

Reasons to panic: Hockey men like to call him the best goalie in the NHL, but he hasn’t been at that level early in the season. Carey Price has a save percentage of .898 and Jake Allen’s is marginally better at .907.

Panic level: One Montreal smoked meat sandwich out of five.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs (7-2-0, 14 points, 1st in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: New season, same old Leafs.

This is a top-heavy group, but the top of their lineup is talented enough to win games outright. Mitch Marner leads the league with 13 points, but he also leads all forwards, averaging 23:34 of ice time per game.

Reasons to panic: Jack Campbell is expected to miss several weeks with a leg injury. His replacement will be Michael Hutchinson, who has a .894 save percentage in his career with Toronto. That’s slightly better than Frederik Andersen’s .896 save percentage so far this season.

Panic level: Two Auston Matthews mustaches out of five.

5. Ottawa Senators (1-6-1, 3 points, 7th in Canadian Division)

Reasons for optimism: That first line looks good, interesting, fiery.

Reasons to panic: Will the Senators win a game again this season?

Panic level: Two Brady Tkachuk punches out of five

4. Calgary Flames (2-3-1, 5 points, 6th in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: They are one of the only teams in Canada that knows how to play defence. Coupled with Jacob Markstrom’s .911 save percentage, best among Canadian goaltenders, should have Flames fans a little less worried about their slow start. Also, Johnny Gaudreau appears to be finding his stride with eight points in six games.

Reasons to panic: An early five-day break after Calgary beat the Canucks twice probably didn’t do them any favors. Still, they looked lifeless against Montreal, and a continued losing streak will leave the Flames that much further behind the rest of the pack.

Panic level: Two angry Matthew Tkachuk’s out of five.

3. Winnipeg Jets (5-2-0, 10 points, 3rd in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: The Jets offence is clicking early, with seven forwards registering over six points in seven games. Nik Ehlers leads the way with five goals and 11 points.

Reasons to panic: Can they continue with the miraculous come-from-behind victories? The Jets have been the comeback kids so far early in the season, trailing heading into the third period in five of those seven games. They’ve won three games already when trailing after two periods.

Winnipeg’s penalty kill is also an atrocious 68.4%.

Panic level: Two lucky horseshoes out of five.

2. Vancouver Canucks (5-5-0, 10 points, 4th in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: The Canucks goaltending finally figured it out against Ottawa. Suddenly, Thatcher Demko has the second-best save percentage among Canadian starters (if you consider him the starter). Also, the Canucks top guns found life against the lowly Senators.

Reasons to panic: They are bad — really bad — at playing defence. By a number of metrics, Vancouver is the worst defensive team in hockey. That might be okay against Ottawa, but it should have them worrying about facing pretty much every other Canadian team.

Panic level: Three blocks of Swiss cheese out of five. .

As Kyle Bhawan said on Sippin’ On A 40, the Canucks better hope that Thatcher Demko earns a monumental raise.

1. Edmonton Oilers (3-6-0, 6 points, 5th in North Division)

Reasons for optimism: Well, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are #1 and #2 in points.

Reasons to panic: Everything else in Edmonton stinks, but the biggest issue is that they don’t have a trusted back-up after Mike Smith went on long-term injured reserve. Smith is still a mediocre netminder at best, but current back-up Stuart Skinner had an .892 save percentage in the AHL last season. He’s yet to play a game this year.

Panic level: Six alarm bells out of five.⏰⏰⏰⏰⏰⏰