What makes a team exciting to watch? Is it the way the team controls the puck? Frustrating their opposition? Or is it the way a team passes and skates, running circles around the other team. The opposite can also be true, teams don’t have to on fire to be entertaining, a strong defensive performance or cat-like goalie can be just as much fun to watch. Here are three teams that I love watching, and a few honourable mentions.
So far this season, the Pens are the daddies of entertaining hockey. When the Commish said he wanted to see more goals; Pittsburgh obliged and so far have scored at least five goals on seven occasions. At time of writing, the Penguins have scored 88 goals, 36 of those by Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel (Amanda’s brother). At the other end of the rink, the dynamic between goalies Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury is always interesting to watch.
Sure the Penguins aren’t perfect, their penalty kill is one of the worst in the league, but offensively speaking, the team is one of the best. With 34.7 shots per game, the Pens shoot the puck more than any other team, and that’s what makes hockey entertaining. Goalies and blue-liners have to be on top of their game when Pittsburgh have the puck.
Of course by Edmonton, I mostly mean the lightning fast Connor McDavid. The NHL’s leading points scorer is on fire, averaging 1.26 points per game. The Oilers’ success has been fueled by McDavid, but Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle both have 20+ points, and Milan Lucic isn’t far behind. It’s unusual to see a Canadian team that isn’t Montreal doing so well, but coach Todd McLellan has put together a good group.
There’s a weird telepathy amongst the Oilers’ forwards, they’re always finding space and always shooting the puck. What’s more impressive is that although Edmonton’s skaters seem to get knocked down a lot, but are always straight back up again. The defense is ever-present, often frustrating opposition and limiting decent shooting opportunities.
Trying to predict a Jets game is like tossing a coin. For a team that’s nowhere near the best in the league, watching them play is usually a lot of fun. Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine can be relied on to bring the points, while Dustin Byfuglien brings assists and penalty minutes. For a below average team, the Jets have taken some big scalps this season: the St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs have all fallen to Winnipeg.
I’m not sure that the Jets faithful will enjoy watching their team play, but as a neutral there’s usually something to enjoy. The Jets have a similar mentality to the Buffalo Sabres, in that they don’t know when they’re beat. Right now Winnipeg are looking at a playoff place, thanks in part to that never-say-die attitude. How long that lasts though is uncertain.
New York Rangers: 97 goals. Enough said.
Philadelphia Flyers: Over half the Flyer’s wins have come when the opposition scores first.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs’ clinical proficiency is admirable, just not exciting to watch for a neutral observer.
Those are the teams I love to watch, which are your favourites? Comment below or join in the conversation on Twitter. Next time we’ll be looking at the most frustrating teams to watch.