NHL early season update

The+Lightning+opened+their+season+with+a+2-1+shootout+win+over+the+Florida+Panthers.
The Lightning opened their season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning opened their season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

The Lightning opened their season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

Bennett Carollo, Staff Writer

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The 2018 NHL season is nearly a month in, and there has been no shortage of excitement. Teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators have soared, while others, such as the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, have fallen right on their faces out of the gate.

Many star players have been involved in key early season storylines, as well. For example, Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was on a torrid pace and leading the league in goals with 10 before suffering a shoulder injury that will have him out for four weeks. Multiple star players have picked up right where they left off from last season, including Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, who as of November 1st, has 18 points in 11 games. All three members of the Colorado Avalanche top line, Gabe Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Nathan Mackinnon, also fit this description, as they have the Avs off to a hot start and are all in the top ten in league scoring. There have also been some surprising early season standouts, such as Sebastian Aho of the sneaky good Carolina Hurricanes, who has registered a point in all 12 of the Canes’ games so far.

The local Tampa Bay Lightning have assumed their usual place as one of the top teams in the NHL early on, with an 8-3-1 record. The Lightning haven’t really had any one or two players that have stood out amongst the rest, but rather have a balanced attack that strikes fear in opponents. Brayden Point currently leads the team with 14 points, while Yanni Gourde and Nikita Kucherov each have 12. However, Tampa Bay has been far from perfect and definitely has room for improvement. Their losses in Minnesota and Arizona were particularly troubling. Against the Wild, they blew a two goal lead before falling in overtime. The Coyotes, on the other hand, pounded the Bolts 7-1.

There have been a handful of surprise teams in the first month of the season. Among them are the Chicago Blackhawks, led by rejuvenated cornerstones Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and the Montreal Canadiens. However, there have also been teams that haven’t nearly met their expectations yet. Last year’s Cinderella team, the Vegas Golden Knights come to mind here, as they’ve started their season with a mediocre 5-6-1 record. The LA Kings, St. Louis Blues, and Florida Panthers are all also searching for answers early on. Luckily for them, there are still five months and seventy-plus games left in the very young 2018 season, and chances are a lot will change before the dust settles at playoff time.

 

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NHL early season update