Another scintillating week in the NHL has seen the standings start to become a little more meaningful at around a third of the way through the season, with Connor McDavid finding his better form to help the Edmonton Oilers maintain their hot streak.
McDavid still has a long way to go to threaten Nikita Kucherov's trailblazing start to the campaign, but Edmonton is running hot still, and other teams perhaps need to follow their lead.
Kucherov had another fantastic week to keep hold of top spot in the goals, assists and points rankings, while the likes of Elias Pettersson and Nathan MacKinnon enjoyed positive weeks from a personal perspective, even if their teams did not.
Here are some storylines from the latest round of matches.
The NHL is built on its players, and the top guys went out and showed their stuff. Some of the league’s best players and current league-leaders in points had themselves a great week, perhaps none more so than Kucherov.
The Tampa Bay Lightning star was arguably the best player this week. In four games, he had four goals and three assists for seven points.
Three of those goals were game-winning tallies, helping the Lightning to a 3-1-0 record. He currently leads the NHL in points by a wide margin with 47, while his lead in the goals and assists category is by just one in each.
His effort is greatly helping Tampa Bay recover from a very slow start to the year, although they are still down in fifth in the Atlantic Division.
Connor McDavid of course led the way last season and he had himself a great week as he looks to lead the slow-starting Oilers back towards the top.
In just two games played this week, he scored one goal and added four assists for five points, to continue an eight-game point streak in which he has scored five goals and contributed 21 points. These numbers prove that the McDavid we are used to seeing is 100% back to form.
There are three players tied for fourth in league scoring with 37 points, after they all had strong weeks.
Nathan MacKinnon tallied seven points, by way of three goals and four assists, although the Avalanche as a team didn't enjoy the week too much as they posted a weak record of 1-3-0.
Elias Pettersson had himself a week of four assists and five points in his three games played, continuing his ultra-hot season, while Artemi Panarin has also been performing at an extremely high level, tying for second in NHL scoring this week with four goals, and for six points, which was also ranked second this week.
All of these players are key to their respective team’s success, and if they continue to perform at the levels they did this week, it will be a great battle for many of the different awards, which included winning the Stanley Cup.
The Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and Pittsburgh Penguins all came into this year with high expectations, and all appear to have strong teams. However, they combined for a record of 2-12-1 in what was a rough week for the quartet.
The Hurricanes have been having somewhat of an inconsistent start to the season, but last week was one they would definitely like to forget. In four games, they lost each one in regulation and were outscored 15-7.
A major chunk of the season has gone by, and they have only accumulated a 14-12-1 record, which sees them outside of the playoffs, if only by two points.
In the long term they should be okay, but they will certainly need to step it up soon.
Another winless team was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who finished 0-2-1. After making splashes in the offseason in a “win now” mode, the Penguins have also been very inconsistent, typified this week.
The Pens now stand at 11-12-3, and are outside a playoff spot, four points behind the Hurricanes although having played one game less. Even with Sidney Crosby and others, this team has lots of work to do in what is a very challenging conference.
With matching 1-3-0 records last week, come the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Each team is seen as a Stanley Cup contender, and they have both proven that while being first and second in the Central Division. However, weeks like this can certainly allow teams below to catch up, and they need to find winning momentum once again.
At the start of the season, many saw the San Jose Sharks as a potentially historically bad team. They were on the way to proving that theory when they came out of the gates with a record of 0-10-1, but since then things have changed.
The next two games were victories against Philadelphia and Edmonton, and since that early unwanted record was established, they have earned a record of 8-7-1. Not a completely dominant record by any means, but they are certainly now showing up.
Many of those wins have come against strong and proven teams such as the New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Oilers. They have also taken a top team in the Rangers to a close, one-goal finish.
As a rebuilding team, playoffs are not on the minds of the Sharks, but being respectable is another thing. They are now showing that even the best teams in the league have to put their best foot forward against them.
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