Bolts are lighting it up in the NHL
It’s been a relatively slow start for last season’s Stanely Cup winners and runners-up respectively. Pittsburgh have had a miserable five-game stretch on the road (1-3-1) – including a heavy 7-1 defeat to the Jets. The Penguins are 4-6-1 away from home. The Penguins negative differential of -16 must be keeping Mike Sullivan awake at night.
The Predators, on the other hand, went on a three-game road trip which started badly, but they came out of California and responded to the 4-1 defeat to San Jose by sweeping the Ducks and Kings (OT) aside. The loss of Ryan Ellis has been a big blow for the Preds – he’s going to be off the ice until after the New Year.
Tampa Bay and St. Louis lead the way in the power rankings. Steven Stamkos leads the NHL points tally with 25. Teammate Nikita Kucherov his hot on his heels with 23 points. There’s no surprise that the Bolts are the team to watch going into the second half of November. The Lightning duo have had 106 shots between them. Kucherov leads the league in goals, finding the net 14 times – the number 86 has also won 100% of faceoffs. Few can argue with the way that The Lighting are playing right now.
Jaden Schwartz rounds off the top-three points leaders. Schwartz is just three goals short of 100 in the National Hockey League. The Blues are in at number two on the rankings and have won five of their last six games. That winning record includes a 4-2 win against a good LA Kings team.
The Kings make up the top-three and have decided to put faith back in goalie Jonathon Quick. The veteran keeper has had two shutouts already, equaling his total for last season. Quick is now 8-2-0 on the season and his 341 saves thus far have contributed to a good start for John Stevens’s team.
The San Jose Sharks are on a four-game winning streak, including three wins at the Shark Tank – where they made light work of the Preds with a 4-1 win on Wednesday. Joe Thornton has passed a milestone of 1,400 points in the league. Patrick Marleau received a rapturous reception back at the SAP Centre as the Leafs fell short in a narrow 3-2 loss. The Sharks will face a tough test on Wednesday when they host the Lightning.
There are few contenders for the surprise team of the season so far but I’ve gone with the Golden Knights. Much of the preseason talk was geared around who would finish below the new franchise. An impressive 6-1-0 home record has contributed to an overall 9-4-0 record. It’s not been an easy start for the Las Vegas team, they seem to be losing goalies at a rapid rate of knots. Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk and Marc-Andre Fleury are all on injured reserve. The Maple Leafs welcome the Golden Nights on Monday night. The Golden Knights starting goalie is going to have to be on full-alert as Auston Matthews has scored 10 goals in 15 games for the Leafs.
Pundits and fans alike are running out of superlatives for the likes of Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Stamkos and Kucherov. It’s going to be intriguing to see which teams can maintain momentum and which teams can fight their way out of the basement.