Predicting the Highest-Scoring Teams for the 2013-14 NHL Season

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013

Predicting the Highest-Scoring Teams for the 2013-14 NHL Season

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    Offense may not be the defining factor when it comes to winning championships, but it sure makes up for a lot of other flaws.

    Teams that can put the puck in the net have an excellent chance to play very well in the regular season. While defense and goaltending may be the defining factors when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs, an offense that can light the lamp creates a lot of excitement and can carry a team to a playoff berth.

    While the season is still in its infancy, here's our look at the teams that should dominate on offense during the 2013-14 regular season.

8. Colorado Avalanche

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    Current ranking: 3.50 goals per game (eighth in NHL)

    Top scorers: C Matt Duchene (seven points), RW P.A. Parenteau (seven points), C Nathan MacKinnon (seven points)

    Offensive outlook: The Colorado Avalanche have gotten off to a stellar 6-0-0 start, surprising the Western Conference in the process. Rookie head coach Patrick Roy has inspired his team, and the Avs have been playing exceptionally on both ends of the ice.

    That's a shock, because they appeared to have problems on the blue line and in net before the first puck dropped. However, they have a solid group of talented offensive players. MacKinnon may have the early edge in the Calder Cup race because of his skill and speed, Duchene has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and Parenteau is an opportunistic scorer as well.

    Gabriel Landeskog may be the Avs' best player, but he has barely gotten started with two assists in his first six games. Paul Stastny hasn't put the puck in the net—he has three assists—but he will get going.

    It's hard to see the Avs playing razor-sharp hockey for much longer, but they have the talent to hold their own in the offensive end.

7. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Current ranking: 3.67 goals per game (fifth in NHL)

    Top scorers: RW Martin St. Louis (10 points), C Steven Stamkos (nine points), RW Teddy Purcell (eight points)

    Offensive outlook: The Lightning have two of the best offensive players in the league in St. Louis and Stamkos. There should be no stopping either one as the season progresses because they both have brilliant track records.

    The Lightning have responded quite nicely to first-year head coach Jon Cooper, and if they can continue their hot start, this team could surprise a lot of opponents in the Atlantic Division. 

    The key to their hot start has been the complementary scoring of Purcell, Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula. The Lightning will likely go through several ups and downs, but they appear to be a fairly dangerous offensive team.

6. Montreal Canadiens

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    Current ranking: 3.3 goals per game (ninth in NHL)

    Top scorers: D P.K. Subban (eight points), C Lars Eller (seven points), C Alex Galchenyuk (seven points)

    Offensive outlook: The Montreal Canadiens appear to have found themselves on the road, reeling off three straight wins and outscoring opponents 11-2 away from the Bell Centre.

    The Canadiens are one of the fastest-skating teams, and they demonstrated their offensive talent last year when they rose to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. While they had an end-of-season slump, they appear to be back on track in 2013-14.

    They have a slew of gifted players who can create offense on their own. Subban, last year's Norris Trophy winner, is extremely talented, has a rocket shot, can carry the puck and is underrated defensively. Eller appears to be coming into his own, while Galchenyuk is just beginning to tap into his talent. 

    Max Pacioretty is probably the best player on the Habs, and he can carry the team when gets on a hot streak. Brendan Gallagher is gritty and opportunistic, while former Flyer Danny Briere wants to show that he is still a gifted offensive player.

5. Anaheim Ducks

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    Current ranking: 3.60 goals per game (sixth in NHL)

    Top scorers: RW Corey Perry (six points), RW Jakob Silfverberg (six points), C Mathieu Perreault (five points)

    Offensive outlook: The Anaheim Ducks were the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season, and they have the offensive firepower needed to have another excellent regular season.

    The Ducks traded the high-scoring Bobby Ryan in the offseason, but they don't appear to be missing him. Silfverberg is a talented skater with the potential to create a lot of scoring opportunities. He looks quite comfortable in the early going. 

    Center Ryan Getzlaf is the Ducks' best all-around player, but he hasn't hit a hot streak yet. He has two goals and two assists in the team's first five games, and once he gets rolling, the Ducks should be able to light up the scoreboard. 

4. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Current ranking: 3.71 goals per game (fourth in NHL)

    Top scorers: RW Joffrey Lupul (seven points), LW Mason Raymond (seven points), C Phil Kessel (seven points)

    Offensive outlook: The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be picking up where they left off last year when they made the playoffs for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

    While their postseason ended in a disastrous manner, the Maple Leafs are loaded with offensive talent and speed. Kessel is a non-stop shooting machine who will score 30 or more goals and average at least a point per game this season. Lupul is an instinctive player on track for a great season—as long as he can stay healthy. Raymond appears to be fitting in quite nicely after making the team on a tryout in training camp.

    James van Riemsdyk has the size, strength and hands to dominate down low, while Nazem Kadri is an opportunistic scorer and a gifted skater. 

    The Leafs appear to be a formidable offensive team this year.

3. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Current ranking: 2.83 goals per game (14th in NHL)

    Top scorers: RW Patrick Kane (five points), LW Brandon Saad (five points), C Jonathan Toews (four points)

    Offensive outlook: The defending champion Chicago Blackhawks were the No. 2 offensive team in the NHL last season behind the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    They have gotten off to an ordinary start in the goal-scoring department, but there is no doubt about the talent up and down the roster. They should clearly be among the leaders by midseason, and the only thing that would likely cause a major dip in the offensive end would be an injury epidemic.

    Kane is one of the most dazzling offensive players in the league, Toews plays with remarkable toughness and skill and Patrick Sharp can find the top corners with his wicked shot. Add in Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and the Blackhawks have formidable scoring depth.

2. San Jose Sharks

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    Current ranking: 5.00 goals per game (first in NHL)

    Top scorers: C Tomas Hertl (nine points), Logan Couture (nine points), Joe Thornton (nine points)

    Offensive outlook: The San Jose Sharks were a streaky team last year, so it's not a big surprise that they have started the season with six consecutive victories.

    The Sharks have undergone a transformation that has a seen a shift in leadership from Thornton and Patrick Marleau to Couture and Joe Pavelski. This may allow the Sharks to avoid the slumps that marked their play a year ago.

    They also have a sensational rookie in Tomas Hertl, who put on a memorable four-goal display in an Oct. 8 victory over the New York Rangers. The Sharks are not going to maintain their current goals-per-game mark, but they have a formidable offensive team.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Current ranking: 3.83 goals per game (third in NHL)

    Top scorers: C Sidney Crosby (12 points), LW Pascal Dupuis (six points), C Evgeni Malkin (six points)

    Offensive outlook: The Penguins remain the most dangerous offensive team in the league, and that's not a shock considering they have kept their core players together.

    Crosby and Malkin may be the two most talented players in the NHL, and holding them in check is an assignment that is not feasible for at least 75 percent of the teams in the league.

    Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Kris Letang are dominant players who are content to fill the stat sheets while Crosby and Malkin get the headlines.