A New Hockey Season Begins

      Entering the ninth week of the one-hundred and first season of the NHL, some teams have risen to the challenges they faced, whereas others have sunk to the bottom. The Tampa Bay Lightning have resurrected their team since last season. With the same record as the Los Angeles Kings, 10-2-2 with twenty-four points, the Lightning (also 11-2-2, twenty-four points) have been surging to the top lead by team captain Steven Stamkos and teammate Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos leads the league with twenty-four points (6 goals, 18 assists), and Kucherov comes in a close second with twenty-one points (13 goals, 8 assists).

      The St. Louis Blues have also been a strong team this season. Currently the top team in the league, the Blues are sitting pretty with a record of 12-3-1 and twenty-five points. This strong start was a full team effort, but three players in particular have helped the team most significantly. Jaden Schwartz is leading his team with twenty-one points (9 goals, 12 assists). Captain Vladimir Tarasenko has contributed nineteen points (8 goals, 11 assists) including six power-play points. Former Philadelphia Flyer, Brayden Schenn, has walked onto a top line in St. Louis with ease. Recording eighteen points (4 goals, 14 assists) so far this season, Schenn has been a major contribution to his new and very successful team.

      The most surprising team of the 2017-18 season is the new expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Entering their inaugural season, the Golden Knights were viewed as severe underdogs, projected to be a bottom five team. Defying the odds, Vegas is now seated in the top 10 with nineteen points (9-5-1). The Vegas rush is being led by left-winger James Neal, who has recorded twelve points so far this season (8 goals, 4 assists).

     Your local Philadelphia Flyers are in the top half of the league. Currently seated 20th overall in the league (16 points, 7-6-2), the Flyers have faced some impressive competition. Their most notable win so far has been the victory over the Washington Capitals. The 8-2 victory over the well-known rivals was a full team effort lead by Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, who both recorded two goals that night.

      The bottom of the league is similar to last year with a few surprising additions. The Arizona Coyotes are still at an all-time low, only recording six points in seventeen games. A standout star of the dead last team is Clayton Keller. The 19-year-old Missouri native was drafted 7th overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. Playing in his first full season in the National Hockey League, Keller has recorded seventeen points in seventeen games (11 goals, 6 assists), and leads his team in points and goals. He was also named NHL Rookie of the Month for the month of October.

      A surprising team to fall to the bottom of the league is the Edmonton Oilers. After signing star-centreman Connor McDavid to an 8-year, $100 million contract extension, the 2015 first overall pick has recorded seventeen points (6 goals, 11 assists) so far this season. Even with McDavid’s steady success, the team has fallen to new lows. Sitting at only seven points, the team is ranked 29th out of 31 teams in the league.

     With a surprising start to the season, many questions arise. Will the top teams like Tampa Bay, St. Louis, and the Vegas Golden Knights keep their winning streaks alive all season, or will they slow down as other teams pass them in the ranks? Will former well performing teams like the Oilers find a dynamic that works and save their season? Will the Coyotes hold one of the worst records in NHL history, or is this just a late start? Stay tuned for yet another interesting season in the National Hockey League.

     Source: NHL.org

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