Even though I led last week's article with Patrick Kane, I can't help but acknowledge how great he's been thus far. With an assist on Wednesday, he extended his point streak to 17 games. To give that some context, the last time we've seen a point streak last that long was back in 2011-12 when Pascal Dupuis did it with Pittsburgh. Of course that's also a sobering example because Dupuis went on to record 59 points that season, which is actually a personal-best for him, but one streak - even an incredible impressive one - can be somewhat flattened over the course of a season. The question for Kane isn't just how long he can keep this up, it's also how he'll do after he goes a couple games without a point.
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Even after getting at least a point in 17 straight contests, Kane only has a marginal lead over the star duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as Kane has 34 points to their 32 and 31 points respectively. After that though, there's a significant drop as Daniel Sedin sits in fourth place with 25 points in 23 contests. It makes you wonder what the Art Ross Trophy race will be like this season. Will it be a three-man race all the way through? Seguin and Benn seem like safe bets to be serious contenders until the end unless one or both of them get hurt, but, again, can Kane keep this up after his point streak ends?
And what about some of the traditional heavy hitters like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos, and Alex Ovechkin? I just named four players that aren't even in the top-20 in the scoring race right now. Ovechkin is the closest at 21st with 20 points in 20 contests. He did slow down a bit though under the pressure of becoming the all-time goal-scoring leader among Russian-born players, but now that that's over he's started to pick up the pace again. Stamkos has 17 points in 23 contests and this is likely to be another season where he looks far better from a goals perspective than points. Malkin has 19 points in 21 contests, but he's heated up with seven points in his last four games.
And then there's Crosby, who has been one of this season's biggest disappointments thus far. He might have finally turned a corner though as he has three goals and five points in his last three contests. There's no question that he could shoot up and become a serious contender in the Art Ross Trophy race despite his less than stellar first quarter.
It's kind of funny, last season there was a lot of talk about the decline in scoring in the NHL because no player reached the 90-point mark and only three scored 40 goals, but that was that was a subject largely pushed based off of a juicy headline (the anemic scoring race) rather than an actual macro trend. In fact, the average team scored 2.73 goals per game in 2014-15, which is almost identical to what we had seen in the three seasons that preceded it. This time around though - and yes, it's still early - we have three players on pace to surpass the 100-point mark, but on a macro level, scoring actually is legitimately down. We're averaging just 2.67 goals per team per game, which if the season ended today, would be significantly worse than any other showing during the salary cap era. The lesson in all of this? It might be attractive to glance at the top-tier and make broad assumptions about the NHL based on that, but it's not necessarily accurate.
I'm Canadian, but today is American Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd share something hockey-related that I'm thankful for - beyond the obvious, which is that this is my job. I'm thankful that the Dallas Stars are 17-5-0. I'm not a fan of the Stars in a general sense, but I want to see offensively minded teams succeed. Of course, first quarter success in the regular season and playoff success are two very different things, so we'll have to see where the Stars go from here, but when you look at who the top-six forwards are in Dallas, it's easy to be interested in them. Plus it's nice to see GM Jim Nill's efforts start to really be reflected in the standings. The fact that he could pry away Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin in recent years makes him one of, if not the best, general manager in the game today in my opinion.
Even getting Patrick Sharp, which I was not nearly as optimistic about, has worked out great for them. Sharp got off to a slow start, but he's settled in to post eight goals and 18 points in 22 games. In other words, he's provided the Stars with that extra bit of depth they've needed to have a super line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin without resorting to taking Jason Spezza off of the second unit. And that's ignoring the fact that Dallas also got Stephen Johns in the same trade, who is a great prospect.
Meanwhile defenseman Trevor Daley, who Chicago got in the Sharp trade, is averaging just 15:39 minutes per game. Obviously the Blackhawks were motivated by cap considerations, but Nill took advantage of circumstances, just as he did when it came to getting Spezza and Seguin.