Why are projected playoff teams stumbling in the early going?

The season is only a few games old, but already some teams are failing to live up to expectations. What's happening with the teams already looking for answers?

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Seems we're already perusing the standings and speculating on which coach might be in trouble, even though the season is just entering its second full week. Maybe that's because of the parity in the league, maybe that's because teams we expected to be playoff-caliber squads like the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins have combined for one win in their first combined 17 games. That one win was collected by Boston on Wednesday night in Denver, where they crushed the Avs, 6-2, for their first win after three ugly losses. We know Anaheim was and still is a sexy Stanley Cup pick, but the Ducks were shut out by undefeated Arizona, 4-0, on Wednesday and have scored once in three games (0-2-1). Meanwhile, new backup Anton Khudobin lasted just 12:53 before getting yanked after allowing three goals on eight shots putting the 'u' in ugly. And speaking of ugly, the ugliness continued for Columbus as they were waxed 7-3 by Ottawa and outscored 6-1 over the final two periods. The Blue Jackets are 0-4 with a bloated 5.00 goals-against per game mark. Teams often preach patience with players and systems and the like. Will we continue to see patience from these teams or something more dramatic?

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Along those lines, Scott, how much longer can the Colorado Avalanche continue to underachieve before people start to question the coaching abilities of Patrick Roy, came in and during his first season seemed to pump a level of confidence and excitement into a young team that needed it. Since then, though, the Avalanche have fallen well short of expectations. Roy was unhappy after the loss to the Bruins, because he didn't feel like his team competed as it should have and didn't like how they played in their own end. He had every right to be upset. The Central division isn't the place to get off to a poor start, but there's still plenty of time to recover and enough talent to win right now in Denver. They just need to start finding ways to make it happen.

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: No doubt there's pressure on Bruce Boudreau entering this season given the Cup-or-bust aspirations of the Ducks, but I would suggest it's premature to even go down that road in terms of him being on the hot seat. I think Ducks management knew it might be a slow start because of all the changes made in the offseason -- one third of the roster turned over -- and that it would take a while for all the new pieces to fit in and gel. Still, I think there's disappointment so far is in the top players and leaders. Captain Ryan Getzlaf said all the right things after the game but now he's got to make sure those words turn into action. The pressure is on in Anaheim.

Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeMac: During his first trip into Boston as head coach of the Avalanche, Roy talked about how Bruins coach Claude Julien was a mentor to him. You might ask how a Hall of Fame goaltender could consider someone who played only 14 games in the NHL a mentor. Coaching was a new thing for Roy, though, especially at the NHL level. After Julien's professional playing days, he began his coaching career in juniors, then the AHL and then finally reached the NHL and won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011. Roy wanted to learn from someone he trusted, so he wouldn't be shy to pick up the phone and call Julien. On Wednesday, the Bruins posted their first win of the season against the Avs. It was a strong game for the Bruins, by far their best effort this season. Colorado, however, dropped to 1-2-0. You're right, Craig, about the Avalanche having solid roster that should be better in the early going. While Roy may ask for Julien's advice once in a while, I'm sure the Colorado coach gets a little more fired up than his mentor. With the way things have gone for the Bruins to open the season, I wonder who Julien calls in times of need?


• How about Michal Neuvirth? The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender made 30 saves en route to a 3-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday. It was Neuvirth's second consecutive shutout. He made 31 saves in a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Monday. His biggest save Wednesday came when he stoned the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa on a breakaway to secure Philadelphia's 1-0 lead. For all the years the Flyers struggled with their goaltending, Neuvirth seems like he could be the answer.

• The Ottawa Senators trounced the Blue Jackets on Wednesday, and Columbus should be a lot better than 0-4. They proved it last season with a strong finish, but the 2015-2016 season has begun with a major skid that is cause for concern.

• It was an interesting night all around the NHL on Wednesday, including a shocking development in the West with that stunning Coyotes shutout of the Ducks. Arizona rookie Anthony Duclair recorded his first career hat trick, while goaltender Mike Smith has returned to form and made 37 saves en route to the shutout win.