Sure, it's early.
But to use that answer after every question about every NHL team is to totally discount either good starts or bad starts as indicative of the quality of various squads.
Sometimes, a good start is evidence of a good team. And the opposite is true.
So while San Jose, Colorado and the Maple Leafs are ripping it up early, there are a few teams already in a world of hurt. It's correctable, but given that many missed the playoffs last season, there's got to be enormous concerns in the executive suites of those franchises already. Most figured Calgary would be in this group, but so far, so good for Brian Burke's new team.
Those clubs in early trouble would be:
--The Buffalo Sabres. Winless in five with only five goals scored, this has started in nightmarishly bad fashion for Ron Rolston's group, an odd collection of unproven kids, highly-paid vets who have never lived up to their contracts and a veteran goalie, Ryan Miller, who maybe should have left two seasons ago.
Miller is at least a card the Sabres have to play. Perhaps Tomas Vanek, as well. Or maybe this is a team that's going to have to take dead aim at the first overall pick next summer and live with the pain. That said, this can't be what Terry Pegula had in mind.
--The New York Rangers. Losing by a combined 15-2 in San Jose and Anaheim has the Blueshirts reelling, even moreso with star goalie Henrik Lundqvist floundering and winger Rick Nash sidelined after a head shot. The switch from John Tortorella to Alain Vigneault hasn't clicked yet, stay-at-home blueliner Dan Girardi is nowhere near the force he was two seasons ago and the youth of the Rangers has yet to shine.
This is a team that already looks like it could use a trade to shake things up. In the current NHL climate, with so many teams so tight for salary cap dollars, that's almost impossible to pull off.
--Florida Panthers. You do wonder if Kevin Dineen could be in some jeopardy. The Panthers missed the playoffs last spring after being a surprising playoff entrant the year before, and at 1-3 so far they've got a very tough schedule coming up. Signing Tim Thomas (currently sidelined with a groin injury), Scott Gomez, Brad Boyes and Ryan Whitney as cheap free agents hasn't bolstered the roster, and all the talented youngsters are finding the going very tough this fall.
This could be sobering first exposure to the NHL for the new owner, Vinnie Viola.
--Philadelphia Flyers. They've already played the fire-the-coach card, and have only beaten the Panthers. The good news is that goalie Steve Mason has been solid with a .935 save percentage. The talent is pretty solid, although a dynamic player on the back end might make a difference. Right now, the Flyers don't seem to be sure who they want to be, something that's rarely been in the case in Philly.
--Edmonton Oilers. Dallas Eakins' team has allowed 19 goals in four games, and if not for a New Jersey third period collapse might be 0-4. The return of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going to help, particularly after playing Taylor Hall at centre didn't work. Eakins is leaning heavily on his top kids, and played Hall, RNH and Jordan Eberle all more than 25 minutes in a loss to Montreal on Thursday. Nail Yakupov played much less, and remains the card GM Craig MacTavish could play to add some balance to this team. A goalie, or good goaltending, would make a world of difference to this squad.
--Nashville Predators. They couldn't score last season when they finished fourth last, and even with the addition of a group of free agent forwards, they still can't score. The Preds were shut out by the Leafs on Thursday and have managed just six goals this season. Once again, their best talent is in goal and on defence, while up front they really don't have a game-breaker or anything close. Filip Forsberg looks overmatched so far. Viktor Stalberg, once healthy, could give them some wheels. Seth Jones has been very good so far, but you know the Preds really wanted one of Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov or Jonathan Drouin in the draft, and it's not hard to see why.