Ranking the Best Goals of the NHL Season So Far

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistNovember 2, 2016

Ranking the Best Goals of the NHL Season So Far

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    Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

    NHL fans have been gifted with some amazing goals already in the 2016-17 season, and as an added bonus, several have come from rookies.

    Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets delivered breathtaking tallies in the first days of their NHL careers, joining annual participants such as Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos.

    We are early in the season, but it is already difficult to choose only 10 goals from the first two weeks of the year. Here are the brilliant goals that made the list, counting down all the way to No. 1.

10. P.K. Subban Scores His First Nashville Predators Goal

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 14 vs. Chicago Blackhawks

    Goal: P.K. Subban

    Assists: Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg

    This goal makes the list because of the shot and celebration. Nashville Predators forwards Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg do a good job passing the puck around, slowly gaining some time and space for P.K. Subban on the point during a power play.

    Part of Subban's appeal is his enthusiasm for the game and enjoyment of the moment. After sending a terrific shot into the back of the net, Subban's celebration matches the crowd's response. It was a great moment and a fun goal, the first of what is likely to be many for the new Predators star.

9. Jonathan Drouin Fires a Bullet Against the Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 25 at Toronto Maple Leafs

    Goal: Jonathan Drouin

    Assist: Nikita Kucherov

    In a game that had long since been decided, Jonathan Drouin received a pass from Nikita Kucherov. He skated into the Maple Leafs zone, used Kucherov as a decoy and rifled the puck past Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen.

    Drouin has had an uneven adjustment to the NHL, but his exceptional talent shows up enough for everyone to be impressed with his overall ability. He scored from an area where many goals are scored, and that shot will fetch him many more over the years.

8. Sidney Crosby Returns to Action, Scores

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 25 vs. Florida Panthers

    Goal: Sidney Crosby

    Assist: Evgeni Malkin

    Sidney Crosby returned to NHL action and got to work immediately. A broken play allowed Crosby to be all alone in the high slot. He took an extraordinary amount of time to prepare the shot and then ripped it stick side to get his 2016-17 season underway. The Panthers allowing Crosby to be that open is incredible, and Crosby is unlikely to see that much open ice for the rest of the season.

7. Auston Matthews Scores a Gorgeous Goal in His NHL Debut

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 12 at Ottawa Senators

    Goal: Auston Matthews

    Assists: None

    In one of the greatest individual efforts anyone will ever see, Matthews worked hard to gain control of the puck in the neutral zone. There were several bodies and sticks in play, but the rookie was the quickest and sent the puck over the blue line.

    A Senators defender gained control of the puck inside the Ottawa zone—but only for a split second, as Matthews once again won possession with a deft stick. He then drove to the net and sent a perfect shot past Craig Anderson, giving Toronto Maple Leafs fans the second of four opening-night goals to cheer on. It was possibly the finest debut in the league's history, and the second goal was one to remember.

6. Joel Eriksson Ek Scores a Goal Scorer's Goal

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 27 at Buffalo Sabres

    Goal: Joel Eriksson Ek

    Assists: Nate Prosser and Marco Scandella

    Joel Eriksson Ek scored the second goal of his NHL career for the Minnesota Wild in the first period of a 4-0 win over Buffalo. It began as a fairly innocuous play, but what made it exceptional was the quality of the shot. The angle and distance from the release to the net were not ideal for scoring, which required the shooter to hit his mark. Eriksson Ek is not a famous rookie, but if he scores a few more goals like this one, everyone will know his name.

5. Connor McDavid Scores on a Penalty Shot

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 12 vs. Calgary Flames

    Goal: Connor McDavid

    Assists: None

    After scoring in the second period to put the Edmonton Oilers up by one goal, Connor McDavid had another chance to score but was fouled from behind. It was a marginal call, but McDavid was awarded a penalty shot on the play.

    The young phenom skated in toward the Calgary net at high speed and then slowed his pace. He stick-handled rapidly, made several dekes and then sent a dart into the back of the net, effectively deciding the game on opening night in the new Rogers Arena.

4. Brayden Schenn Cashes on the Power Play

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo Sabres

    Goal: Brayden Schenn

    Assists: Claude Giroux and Mark Streit

    The Philadelphia Flyers have been scoring a lot of goals early this season, and with a power play like this, it is no surprise. There are three keys to this play. First, the backhand pass from Streit to Giroux scrambles the Buffalo penalty-killers, and the group never gets totally set again.

    The second important element is a crisp and accurate pass from Giroux, changing the angle of the incoming shot and giving the shooter an open net. The third item is the release—Giroux didn't have the puck on his stick for more than a split second. A power-play goal executed this well is impossible to defend.

3. Marian Hossa Scores No. 500 of His Career

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 18 vs. Philadelphia Flyers

    Goal: Marian Hossa

    Assists: Artem Anisimov and Brian Campbell

    Marian Hossa scored No. 500 of his brilliant career in a blowout win against the Philadelphia Flyers in mid-October. He got the puck on his skate, kicked it up to his stick and then drove to the net. His backhand shot eluded Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth and made Hossa the 44th NHL player to score 500 goals in his career.

    Hossa's extreme value comes not only in his goal-scoring ability, but also his two-way acumen and overall play. It represents an incredible career accomplishment and adds to his already substantial Hall of Fame resume.

2. Patrik Laine Scores OT Winner to Complete Hat Trick

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 19 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

    Goal: Patrik Laine

    Assist: Dustin Byfuglien

    In a thrilling game that featured the two major rookies this season, Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets prevailed with a hat trick—including the overtime winner. After Auston Matthews was thwarted on a breakaway, Laine drove back into the Toronto zone on a two-on-one, firing from the high slot with a well-placed bullet. Jets fans had been waiting for a special moment on home ice from their rookie, and Laine delivered in a big way.

1. Jaromir Jagr Scores No. 750 of NHL Career

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    Date and Opponent: Oct. 20 vs. Washington Capitals

    Goal: Jaromir Jagr

    Assists: Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Marchessault

    Jagr's goal for the Florida Panthers tied the game in the second period and vaulted the veteran into rare air. He became the third player in the game's history to score 750 goals, joining all-time legends Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.

    The play itself was a beauty, worthy of such an historic moment. Brilliant passing by linemates Barkov and Marchessault and Jagr's patented feel for getting into the right spot were all in play for the tally. It gave the home fans something to cheer for, and for the veteran Czech winger, it was one more notch in an outstanding career.

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