National Hockey League: Most impressive teams in the beginning of the season
USA – November 14, 2018
As every NHL team has played 17 or 18 games by now, it’s a good time to analyze which are the most impressive of them and seem to be capable of more than we expected from them. Here is our list of the top 3 teams.
3. Edmonton Oilers
In the era of Connor McDavid, considered one of the most talented players of the generation that started back in the 2015-2016 season, the Edmonton Oilers have reached the play-offs only once so far, making it to the second round the 2016-2017 season. Last year the Oilers ended far below the line, having lost all chances to win the Stanley Cup well before the regular season had ended.
This year the Oilers are doing relatively well, being in 9th place in the West together with the Colorado Avalanche and the Anaheim Ducks, so they have great chance to continue into the post-season.
As for Connor McDavid himself, he is just as good as usual, having scored 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists) in 18 games. Is another 100-points-season coming for the young player? Probably, yes. Will it help the Oilers reach the play-offs? Yes, this is very possible.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs
There’s another Canadian team in the list; only their true fans can believe they’re in third place in the Eastern Conference now, in the middle of November. Of course, it’s too early to predict, but it looks like the Maple Leafs could go beyond the first round of the play-offs, where they stalled the past two seasons.
They’ve scored 63 goals in 18 games, thanks to defenseman Morgan Rielly with his 23 points and three guys in the attacking line – John Tavares, Mitchell Marner and, of course, Auston Matthews, which is the second most in the league behind the Tampa Bay Lightning.
You might say, “So? Ottawa has 62 goals and they’re in last,” and that’s fair to say. But Toronto is so highly ranked right now because they are one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing only 47 goals so far. Only 6 teams are out-performing Toronto in this regard.
1. Buffalo Sabres
If you take a brief look at the last five NHL seasons, you’ll easily see the Sabres were the worst team in the league. They didn’t even dare to dream of reaching the play-offs, ending 4 out of the last 5 seasons in 8th place in the Atlantic Division. They’ve been branded as the underdogs and outsiders, who could only win if the other team doesn’t show up.
Not anymore! The Buffalo Sabres are doing remarkably well this season, in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, having left the Pittsburgh Penguins and even the Washington Capitals far behind. What an impressive performance!
Two guys Buffalo should be grateful for are the forwards Jeff Skinner (20 points in 18 games), who was acquired this inter-season from the Carolina Hurricanes, and 22-year-old Jack Eichel, who has finally become the true leader of the team, scoring 19 points in 18 games so far.
Should we expect the Sabres to reach the play-offs this season? Sure. This is the team that impressed us the most, and we wish them the best of luck.