The NHL season is no longer in its infancy.
It's still young and taking form, but five weeks of the 2013-14 season have been played, and some of the early-season trends are starting to have more meaning.
Take the hot starts of the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. Both of these teams are in the process of proving themselves as a legitimate contenders and not just early-season flashes.
The Sharks are represented in this week's top five goals, and so are the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
5. Kessel leads Maple Leafs rout of Oilers
Phil Kessel is one of the best goal scorers in the league, and he is off to one of the hottest starts in his career with nine goals and 18 points through the first month of the season. He scored two goals in Toronto's 4-0 victory over Edmonton Oilers Oct. 29.
The first of those two goals was an absolute beauty. Kessel got the Leafs on the board at the 1:08 mark of the first period. He was flying up the ice, and he took a slick pass from Nazem Kadri.
As Kessel moved in on Edmonton goalie Richard Bachman's right side, he slowed up, squared his body to the goal and then went top corner on the left side of the net.
The move showed why Kessel is such a dangerous goal scorer. He made a simple move that gave him the most net to shoot at, and he did it quickly and effortlessly.
All three of the other Toronto goals were beauties in that game, but this was the best one.
4. Big Z scores down low
The Boston Bruins have been playing ordinary hockey in the last two weeks. They have lost three of their last four games, and head coach Claude Julien is not happy with his team's execution or effort.
The only game they won in that span was its Oct. 31 meeting with the Anaheim Ducks. They were outplayed by Anaheim by a large margin and trailed 2-1 late in the third period when they went on the power play.
Julien stationed big defenseman Zdeno Chara down low next to center David Krejci with rookie Torey Krug at the point. The puck skittered back towards Krug and he reached it before the Anaheim penalty killers. He sent it towards goalie Jonas Hiller, and Krejci corralled the rebound. Krejci calmly passed the puck through the legs of Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler to Chara.
The big defenseman shoveled it into the back of the net before Hiller could react, and the Bruins tied the score. They would later win the game in a shootout.
3. Pavelski's hustle pays off
Joe Pavelski and the San Jose Sharks were having another excellent game when they went to Ottawa to take on the Senators Oct. 27.
The Sharks had built a 4-2 lead in the third period, and the Senators were desperate to attack and cut into the lead. However, the Sharks managed to get control of the puck in their own zone, and they started up the ice.
Tommy Wingels led the breakout, and he passed the puck to Pavelski, who sent it to Justin Braun. As Braun got close to the Ottawa goal, he quickly fired a pass back to Pavelski as he stationed himself in front of Senators goalie Craig Anderson. Pavelski deftly handled the difficult pass and rifled it into the net to stretch the lead to 5-2.
That goal emphasized the Sharks' skill level and took the heart out of the Senators.
2. Kane can thank Saad for this beauty
The Chicago Blackhawks were in a serious mood when they traveled to Minnesota to take on the Wild Oct. 28.
Minnesota had defeated Chicago at the United Center two days earlier, and the Blackhawks were all business as they wanted to pay their hosts back. Chicago was in top form and had built a 3-1 lead after two periods, and the Blackhawks were not about to relax in the final 20 minutes.
Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane came through the neutral zone with speed. Saad had the puck, and he split the Minnesota defense. As he went to the right of Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom, he spun away from the defenders and fired a blind, backhand pass that landed perfectly on the tape of Kane's stick.
It was an easy tap-in for the Blackhawks' star that increased the lead to 4-1. Saad would add one more goal himself as the Blackhawks got their revenge with a 5-1 triumph.
1. A goal scorer's goal for Stamkos
You can make a good bet that Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning will find himself in this weekly feature more than any other NHL star.
Not only is Stamkos a likely 50-goal scorer this year, many of his strikes are of the most artful variety. That was certainly the case when he scored against St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak Nov. 2.
With the score tied 1-1 early in the second period, the explosive Stamkos went in on Halak two-on-one with Martin St. Louis after receiving a pass from Alex Killorn. Stamkos crossed the blue line and waited patiently. As he cut to the middle of the ice, he dragged the puck past the defender and then fired an effortless wrist shot past the St. Louis goalie and into the back of the net.
It was the kind of signature Stamkos goal that fired up his teammates. The Lightning went on to record a 4-2 victory.
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