Surprising start to the NHL season

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Surprising start to the NHL season

Nathan MacKinnon celebrates the success the Avalanche are having.

Nathan MacKinnon celebrates the success the Avalanche are having.

https://www.sbnation.com

Nathan MacKinnon celebrates the success the Avalanche are having.

https://www.sbnation.com

https://www.sbnation.com

Nathan MacKinnon celebrates the success the Avalanche are having.

Jared Miller, Sports Editor

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This NHL season been nothing but exciting. As the game continues to change, the league is expanding, and the fast paced action has been as good as it can be.
A major addition to the league is the newly announced 32nd franchise joining the NHL. Seattle will be home to the new team joining the league at the start of the 2021-22 season. The team does not have a name or uniforms yet, but the NHL has taken the step to expand the league even further.
There have been some surprises this season in the NHL, the biggest one is the success that the Buffalo Sabres have been having in the first third of the season. They are currently tied for fifth place in the league with 17 wins in 29 games played. Last season the Sabres were dead last in the league, but have managed to turn their franchise around and have found a way to win this season, including a ten-game win streak that carried them to the top of the standings.
The Colorado Avalanche is also a team that has been turning some heads in the league. The Avalanche is currently in fourth place in the league, and most of that success rests on the backs of their top line consisting of Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog. Mackinnon was second in the MVP race last season, falling just short to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils. The three players together have combined for a grand total of 124 points. If the success of this top line continues, the Avalanche will be a hard team to stop this season.
Along with the surprises, there are also teams expressing their dominance in the league, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tampa Bay has been a very solid team for the last few seasons, but they have not been able to win the Stanley Cup. So far this season they are sitting at first place, and they are using their offense to maintain the success that they are having. In 31 games played, the team has won 23 games and scored a total of 124 goals. All four lines of Tampa’s offense produces in the offensive zone. On eleven occasions the Lightning has scored at least five goals in a game, which is extremely impressive in today’s NHL given the improvement of goaltending in the last few decades. If the offense continues to score at this rate, the Lightning will be a team that will do damage come playoff time.
The Maple Leafs, similarly to the Lighting, have been very dominant offensively as well. With an off-season addition of NHL superstar John Tavares, the Maple Leafs’ already dangerous offense got so much better. They are currently second place in the league and have the second most goals at 109, only trailing Tampa Bay. If Toronto is able to add a strong defense man towards the end of the season, there is no reason that the Maple Leafs can’t make a run at a Stanley Cup and possibly win the Cup for the first time in 51 years.
As the season nears the halfway point of the year, the action is about to start picking up as teams will look to finish the second half of the season strong. The season still has a lot to bring and one bounce can change the entire outcome, so stay tuned.

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