The 2018/2019 NHL season is nearly a third of the way through, and a few teams are already separating themselves from the pack. From offensive dominance, to staggering defensive depth, these teams have jumped to the forefront as the NHL’s premier contenders.
1) Tampa Bay Lightning (22-7-1)
For the past 3-4 seasons, it seems the Tampa Bay Lightning have been a fixture in this conversation. From outstanding play between the pipes from the freakish Andre
As strong as this team is
Brayden Point scored his 20th goal of the season – 12 shy of his career high set last season (82 GP) – to move within one of Patrik Laine for the League lead. #NHLStats #TBLvsNJD pic.twitter.com/OG7Nnir1l5— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 4, 2018
This is a team with a wealth of playoff experience, offensive explosiveness, a top 5 goalie, and one of the best defenseman in hockey. Yup, Tampa is for real. Again.
2) Nashville Predators (19-9-1)
Beginning with Nashville’s longtime backbone, reigning Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne continues to prove that age is just a number. Just over 30 games into the season, and Rinne is already ranked 1st in GAA (1.96) & 1st in SV% (.930). Some experts credit Nashville’s’ wealth of defensive depth, but Pekka has been dominating the crease well before the Preds emerged as a true contender.
Built from the net out, the Predators boast one of the deepest & talented rosters in the entire league. Their defensive depth is 2nd to none, deploying the likes of P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm on a nightly basis is simply unfair. This defensive prowess shines through statistically, as Nashville currently ranks 2nd in the entire NHL in goals against so far this season. Having two Norris
As good as Nashville is in their own end, they are highly lethal in the attacking zone as well. Led by the likes of super-talented Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson, the Preds have little difficulty finding the back of the net. If they can avoid injuries, they may ice as many as three different 30 goal scorers on a nightly basis. Considering how good they are
3) Toronto Maple Leafs (20-9-1)
Already one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league, the high octane Toronto Maple Leafs got even better recently. After officially resigning their offensively gifted 22-year-old William Nylander to a
It simply does not matter what others do, this team will find a way to burn you. Outside of their big dogs up front, who happen to be torching the league, the Leafs have seen role players stepping up this year as well. The lightning-quick Kasperi Kapanen has established himself as a fixture of this youthful Leafs team. Kapanen has potted 11 goals, with a total of 21 points this season. Then, there is Morgan Rielly on the back end. On pace for career marks across the board, the talented
If any player on this talented Leafs roster is asked who their MVP is, the answer will always be the same. Freddie Andersen, or “FredEx” as his teammates like to call him has been lights out so far this season. Already in Vezina talks, the true foundation of the Leafs success is the 6’4 Andersen, who gives them a chance to win nightly. Currently ranked second in the NHL for wins by goalies, & 6th in overall SV%, Andersen has been everything the Leafs have hoped for. Teams simply cannot win a title in
Auston Matthews wins it in OT at the buzzer. 15th goal in 14 games to start the year pic.twitter.com/6YpTZaHbBk— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 5, 2018
Matthews has an otherworldly 16 goals & 26 points in only 16GP so far this
Although the season has just nearly surpassed the 30 games mark, Leafs fans everywhere are drooling over their best on-ice product in the last 20 years, and rightfully so. This team is for real.