With more than half of the regular schedule played in the National Hockey League (NHL), few observers mention the top scorers rankings, where Nikita Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon were a step ahead of the competition.
After Thursday's games, the first of the two men has 75 points, two more than the Colorado Avalanche's color bearer. Behind them, the other players on the circuit can give up the Art Ross trophy unless they suffer irresistible pressure or injuries to the leaders; Third place David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins) is 10 points behind.
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Additionally, MacKinnon had better keep up a fast pace if he hopes to get the reward for the first time in his career because his rival Tampa Bay Lightning are in good shape. Kucherov had three assists in his final game in a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Wild and should surpass his 113 points from last season. When he took first place in points in 2018/2019, he had 128 points and is well on his way to at least equaling that number of points, especially since the “Bolts” have regained their momentum with four wins in a row.
“I never thought about that. I just try to do my best to help the team win. We have been going through a difficult phase recently. It's about finding solutions, being on the same wavelength and playing more efficiently,” commented number 86 in an interview published this week on the website NHL.com.
The motivation is there
In fact, the desire to win and the motivation to show up every day to get the job done is very real for Kucherov.
“If he could play 40 minutes a night, he would be there,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. […] A few times this year we had 11 forwards and seven defensemen in the lineup, or someone got injured during a game. However, he played in two different trios. He's so good and he wants to be. The guys who play on his line want to be the same way. “That is impressive and one of the reasons why we are in the fight for the lead in the table.”
Technically, Tampa Bay sits in fifth place in the NHL's Atlantic Division, but is one point behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. The Detroit Red Wings collected the same number of points as head coach Jon Cooper's team, but played one fewer game.
The Lightning will visit the Buffalo Sabers on Saturday afternoon.