At some point before this week is up, every NHL team will have completed at least one third of their regular-season schedule. Each passing game provides us with another checkpoint of confidence in our growing data set, but we're still at the point of the campaign where the numbers are susceptible to all sorts of potentially misleading shenanigans.
This is particularly true of the early-season standings, where a team's raw win-loss record at this point isn't necessarily all that indicative of how good a team really is, nor is it predictive of where they'll finish by season's end. In the pursuit of painting a clearer picture of team performance thus far, we'll need to peel back a layer and look at some underlying trends to figure out what's sustainable moving forward and what's not. In that way, we can examine which teams which have gotten off to a surprising start are for real, and which will fade by season's end.