Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
After all the games conclude this upcoming Saturday night, the NHL will not have any games for the next few days because of the holiday break. They will then resume games on Thursday December 27. The NHL has been crazy so far this season and five teams have fired coaches and replaced them.
None of those teams will be in this week's Top 10. Once again there is a lot of parity being displayed this season. Who are the Top 10 teams so far this season?
10. Pittsburgh Penguins: This team shows up when they play the tougher teams, but they seem to be a let down when they play teams that are not better than them. The Penguins knocked down the Washington Capitals on the road 2-1 on Wednesday night. It was a heated game. Matt Murray stopped 31 shots and it was just his second game back from injury. Casey DeSmith has done a fantastic job filling in the crease this season. His record is 10-6-4 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA, along with two shutouts. The defense is getting a lot better. Marcus Pettersson has been a great addition for this team. Kris Letang has been playing at a high level. He has scored seven goals and recorded 20 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 5. Sidney Crosby continues to led by example and he has scored 16 goals and recorded 22 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 9. Their record is so far this season is 16-12-6 with 38 points.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets: The offense on this team isn't a problem. The problem with this team is the inconsistent goaltending. The Blue Jackets currently sit in the number two spot with a 18-12-3 record with 39 points in the Metro, but the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins are both one point back of them for that spot. Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin each have 34 points so far this season. Pierre-Luc Dubois continues to amaze for Columbus so far this season. He has scored 13 goals and recorded 14 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 2. Seth Jones has scored six goals and recorded 13 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 1.
8. Buffalo Sabres: Opponents have been giving the Sabres an ice bath as of late after they won 10 games in a row. Buffalo is just 3-4-3 in their last 10 games. Their record so far this season is 20-15-5 with 45 points. The Buffalo Sabres sit in the number three spot in the Atlantic Division and they are one point back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the number two spot. Jack Eichel is having an amazing season for Buffalo. He has scored 14 goals and recorded 32 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 46. Jeff Skinner has recorded 37 points and Sam Reinhart has recorded 34 points. Rasmus Ristolainen and Rasmus Dahlin have been solid on the blue line for them. Ristolainen has recorded 22 points and Dahlin has recorded 19 points. The goaltending duo of Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark has worked so far this season. Hutton's record is 13-9-2 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.60 GAA. Ullmark's record is 7-1-3 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.94 GAA, along with one shutout.
7. Colorado Avalanche: The Avalanche haven't had as much offensive firepower as of late. They have scored 124 goals so far this season and it is one of the best in the NHL this season. Their top line has combined for 60 goals this season. This proves that they aren't as deep as they think they are. Colorado should try to make another move if they can, but the Colorado Avalanche are definitely talented enough to win a playoff series. They currently sit in third place in the Central Division with a 19-10-6 record with 44 points so far this season. Colorado is two points back of the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets.
6. Washington Capitals: Even with Barry Trotz not coaching this team anymore, this team is still playing the same way they were under him. Todd Reirden has done a good job coaching this squad. The Capitals sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 20-10-3 with 43 points. Their goal differential is 21. Alex Ovechkin has scored 29 goals and recorded 14 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 14. Nicklas Backstrom has been tremendous so far this season with 10 goals and 30 assists. His plus/minus is 15. John Carlson has been the glue for the blue line. He has scored five goals and recorded 30 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 21. Tom Wilson continues to have a target on his back in games and he dropped the gloves with Jamie Oleksiak early in the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Washington plays the Buffalo Sabres at home on Friday night and the Ottawa Senators on the road Saturday night before the holiday break.
5. Calgary Flames: The Flames will be a very dangerous team in the west as the season progresses. Calgary has speedy goal scorers, but they lack size. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm are all 25 years old or younger and those four players lead the team in points. The Calgary Flames have been very good at playing two-way hockey so far this season under Bill Peters. They have scored 122 goals and given up 95 goals so far this season. Mark Giordano is leading by example for this hockey club. He has scored six goals and recorded 29 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 20. David Rittich is starting to make his stamp between the pipes for Calgary. His record so far this season is 11-4-1 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.20 GAA, along with one shutout. The Calgary Flames currently sit in first place in the Pacific Division with a 22-11-2 record with 46 points.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs have four lines that can score at any moment. They have a ton of depth on this roster. One of this teams biggest pet peeves is teams that get physical with them. When opponents don't get in Toronto's faces, they score in bunches. They have scored 124 goals and they have given up 95 goals so far this season. Mitchell Marner leads the team with 44 points (nine goals and 35 assists). John Tavares and Morgan Reilly each have 36 points so far this season. Reilly is making a strong case for the Norris Trophy. Even though Auston Matthews has missed time with injury this season, he is fourth on the team in points with 29 and Matthews has scored 17 goals and recorded 12 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 9. Kasperi Kapanen has scored 12 goals and recorded 10 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 19. William Nylander has not scored a goal yet in six games, but he has recorded two assists and his plus/minus is -1. Frederik Andersen has been much improved between the pipes. His record is 18-9-1 with a .923 save percentage and a 2.53 GAA, along with one shutout. Garret Sparks has been a reliable backup goalie and his record is 4-1-1 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.84 GAA, along with one shutout. Toronto sits in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 22-10-2 record with 46 points. They are eight points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and they are one point up on the Buffalo Sabres.
3. Nashville Predators: The Predators play a gritty style of hockey and it works for this team. They rely on defense and goaltending to win games. Nashville doesn't have a ton of offensive weapons. They do have one of the better goal differentials in the NHL at 20. Even though Filip Forsberg has not played since November 29, he still leads the team in goals with 14. Ryan Johansen leads the team in points with 30 (five goals and 25 assists). His plus/minus is 6. Roman Josi leads the defenseman on this team with 26 points (seven goals and 19 assists). His plus/minus is -1. Craig Smith, Kevin Fiala, and Kyle Turris each have 17 points have so far this season. P.K. Subban has not played since November 13 because of injury. He has only scored two goals and recorded 10 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 8. Pekka Rinne has been sharp for the most part this season with a 14-6-1 record with a .927 save percentage and a 2.07 GAA, along with two shutouts. Nashville's record so far this season is 22-11-2 with 46 points. They are tied with the Winnipeg Jets in points, but Winnipeg leads the Central Division because they one less loss than Nashville. They have two road games against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night and the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon before the holiday break.
2. Winnipeg Jets: This team has depth and size. The Jets could very well represent the west in the Stanley Cup Finals come June. Winnipeg leads the Central Division with a 22-10-2 record with 46 points. Nashville has the same amount of points as them, but the Predators have one extra loss. Mark Scheifele has scored 21 goals and recorded 25 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 16. Blake Wheeler has scored five goals and recorded 39 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 7. Patrik Laine has scored 23 goals and recorded seven assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -4. Kyle Conner is just 22 years old and he has provided depth for this team. Conner has scored 13 goals and recorded 15 assists. His plus/minus is even. Dustin Byfuglien is keeping this blue line together. He has scored three goals and recorded 23 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 5. Nikolaj Ehlers is also another key piece on this roster and he has scored 12 goals and recorded 12 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 5. Connor Hellebuyck's record so far this season is 15-9-1 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.90 GAA. Laurent Brossoit has been a good backup. His record is 7-1-1 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA. The Winnipeg Jets goal differential is 24.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are the best team in the NHL by a mile with a 26-7-2 with 54 points so far this season. They also have the best goal differential in the NHL at 44. Tampa Bay plays both sides of the puck efficiently. Even when goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was sidelined, it didn't seem to effect this team at all. Louis Domingue stepped up in a big way in his absence. Domingue's record so far this season is 14-4 with a .905 save percentage and a 2.95 GAA. Vasilevskiy's record so far this season is 11-3-2 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA, along with one shutout. Nikita Kucherov has scored 15 goals and recorded 35 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is 5. Brayden Point has had a breakout season with 21 goals and 23 assists. His plus/minus is 10. Steven Stamkos has scored 17 goals and recorded 19 assists so far this season. His plus/minus is -3. Tyler Johnson and J.T. Miller have each recorded 25 points so far this season. Yanni Gourde is another key role player on this team and he has recorded 24 points (10 goals and 14 assists). His plus/minus is 4. Ryan McDonagh leads the defenseman on the team with 21 points. Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman each have 19 points. Jon Cooper is one of the best coaches in the NHL.