As we make our way past Thanksgiving and into the prime winter months, the NHL is in full force. So far this season, there have been a few teams that have separated themselves from the rest of the league.
Starting in the Eastern Conference, one of the teams that has started off well is the Montreal Canadiens. They have the best record in the entire NHL and they have been winning games with their offense, defense and goaltending. As a team, they are second in goals per game, third in goals against and also in the top five when it comes to being on the power play and the penalty kill — fourth and second, respectively. The team has been led by all-star caliber goaltender Carey Price, but they are not the only team that has been playing well on both ends of the ice.
The New York Rangers are also among one of the league’s best, and they are getting it done with great offense and goaltending. They are the number one team in the NHL in goals against and seventh in the league in scoring. Even though they have lost three out of their last four games, they still sit alone at the top of their division.
Henrik Lundqvist has been the best goalie this year for any team and he looks like the same goalie that won the Vezina Trophy back in 2012. Despite only scoring one goal in his first 17 games this season, Rick Nash has tallied seven goals in his last eight and showing that he is still the same guy that scored 42 goals just one season ago.
The last team in the NHL that has separated themselves from the rest of the pack is the Dallas Stars. This came surprising to a lot of people since the Stars did not even make the playoffs last year, but they are off to a fast start thanks to the unbelievable play of the best duo in all of hockey. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have combined for 31 goals, 38 assists, 69 points and a plus-minus of +20. All of these numbers are by far the best by any offensive pair in the entire league.
Also, the Stars were able to make an improvement at goalie over the offseason as they signed long-time San Jose Shark Antii Niemi to a multiyear deal. This much-needed boost between the pipes has helped Dallas dramatically.
There are also a few teams that are starting to break into the top part of the NHL, including the Washington Capitals. Winners of their last five games, the Caps have been led by the offense of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the top notch goaltending of Braden Holtby.
Holtby is the only goalie in the NHL right now that has a goals against average below two goals a game. If they are to keep this up, they have to play well against well-performing teams since they have to play the Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings in the upcoming week.
The other team that is on a hot streak is the Boston Bruins. Also winners of their last five games, the Bruins look to continue their success as they start a western Canada road trip on Wednesday. The Bruins owe their success this season to their goal scoring. They are third in the NHL in goals per game, and they are top in the league on the power play. Nobody really expected this out of the Bruins especially after they missed the playoffs due to not scoring enough just last year. What is holding them back this year is the bad play of their goaltender Tuukka Rask. His 2.94 goals against average is not even in the top 30 in the NHL. Rask will have to step up his game if the Bruins want to keep this winning streak going and get even closer to the top of the league.