Must See TV: The Five Most Entertaining Teams in the NHL

Don Cherry
Don Cherry is one of the most entertaining voices in hockey. (Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)

There are five entertaining NHL hockey teams that every fan must see on TV. They score a boatload of goals, they fight, and they are entertaining to watch every night. These five teams attract new fans and keep their current fans mesmerized by their play. Most of the time, a team’s attractiveness is due to their high-scoring ability, but fans can be entertained by all sorts of different things. There are many determinants that make a team entertaining.

Many fans are attracted to the game to see fights. Other hockey purest will watch a game no matter what two teams are playing. I get just as much satisfaction out of a beautiful cross-ice saucer pass — through three defenders landing on an intended target’s tape — than I do seeing a goal scored.

As in any sports leagues, superstars attract. The list below proves that star power has a heavy influence on NHL entertainment as well.  This compiled list was based on many factors. Here are the five must-see hockey teams in the NHL:

5. Philadelphia Flyers

The Broad Street Bullies. The Philadelphia Flyers give fans a little dose of everything. Let’s start with the rough stuff. They like going to the box and like fighting to get there. For fans who look to fighting for their NHL entertainment, the Flyers are the team to watch in that regard. The Flyers seem to lead the league in penalty minutes every season no matter who is behind their bench. They are the Oakland Raiders of the NHL.

The Flyers currently lead the league in three penalty categories. They have 106 minor penalties, 132 total penalties, and 346 penalty minutes. In addition, the Flyers have the third highest fight total of any team with 18 spars, and are second in the league averaging 16.5 penalty minutes per game. There is drama in every Flyers game and plenty of extra-curricular activity after the whistle led by Flyers instigator, Zac Rinaldo. The Flyers spend nearly an entire period in the penalty box each game. This paves the way for many unpredictable moments throughout a number their games.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Flyers have one of the most talented all-around players in the league, Claude Giroux. He is a gritty captain who proved his worth in a playoff bout against the Penguins last season. Giroux also had the highest-selling hockey jersey in the league a year ago. His star power obviously entertains the city of Brotherly Love. The Flyers also have some of the best up-and-coming prospects in the show. If young players like Braden Schenn (21 years old), Sean Couturier (20), and Jakub Voracek (23) keep improving their offensive talents, the Flyers will prove to be even more entertaining.

4. Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are not short on talent by any means. Ryan Getzlaf is an all-world player maker, Bobby Ryan is an established 30-goal scorer and Corey Perry is one of the premier power-forwards in the league. Don’t forget Teemu Selanne, a future Hall-of-Famer who seems to never age.

Of the Ducks’ stars, not one of them is having an eye-popping season. Former Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Perry, has yet to heat up this year. The Ducks are winning as a team and everyone is pitching in to do their part. The Ducks are third in the league averaging 3.24 goals per game and have a home power play percentage of 34.6%. They have encountered all of this success without having a player with more than seven goals to date. With a different player pitching in every night, the Ducks have an unpredictability that makes them worth watching.

If you want more excitement, a third of the Ducks’ games have gone into overtime. The Ducks have four shootout victories and one overtime victory in six cases. There is nothing more dramatic than overtime hockey. If you give up a goal, your team goes home. The Ducks have provided that adrenaline rush for their fans many times this season.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning are lighting the lamp more than any other team in hockey. They are the highest scoring team in the NHL averaging 3.68 goals per contest and have recorded 49 five-on-five goals. That is seven more even-strength goals than the Penguins who are second in that category. The Lightning have also competed in one less game than the Pens.

Tampa Bay gets involved in some very high-scoring contests causing for some quality entertainment. They have surrendered the fourth highest amount of five-on-five goals in the league with 42. Surrendering many goals and scoring many goals at the same time is a prescription for thrilling hockey.

Along with talented players such as Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, the Lightning have Steven Stamkos. He is the most gifted goal-scorer in the league. Stamkos gets the job done every year and it doesn’t matter who he plays with on a line. This is evidence of a true superstar and sniper. Stamkos leads the league in goal-scoring every year and does thus far this season. He will end this season as the highest goal-scorer barring injury. Stamkos has the most lethal one-timer you will ever see. His one-timer is hard to see on a slow-motion instant replay. The object of hockey is to score goals and the Lightning have the player who is the best at it, Stamkos.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are full of star power at all positions. They have arguably the two most talented forwards in the game on their roster. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are talents you do not come across every day. Crosby is tied atop the NHL scoring race. Malkin won the scoring race (Art Ross Trophy) and league MVP (Hart Memorial Trophy) last year. These two talents lead a team that is loaded with offense.

The Penguins were the highest scoring team in the league last season averaging 3.33 goals per game. They are above that pace this season averaging 3.4 goals per game. This is second only to the Lightning. If you want scoring come watch a Pens game. The Pens have scored the most power play goals in the league with 22 and have the third highest power play success rate at 27.8%. If you are really into power play goals, the Pens have scored a goal on the man-advantage in 12 straight games.

The Pens were very close to being the number one team on this list as the most entertaining team to watch. If the number one team were not in the midst of an unbelievable streak the list may have been tweaked in the Pens’ favor. On the other hand, anyone will tell you that Malkin, currently injured, has not played his best hockey to date. If he and Crosby were running on all cylinders, the Pens may have made the number one slot.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are having a season unlike any other. They have yet to lose in regulation and have earned at least one point in every game this season. Their TV ratings are off the charts as well. The streak they are currently riding has attracted more and more viewers throughout the city of Chicago and the country. Hockey fans want to see how long this streak will withstand.

The Blackhawks are first on this list due to their current point streak. They are the talk of the league and are atop the Western Conference standings. They meet the eye test and every game they play is exciting. They have the “wow” factor that you cannot explain. Even when the Blackhawks are not putting up high goal numbers, they are still creating a ton of chances as they did against the Columbus Blue Jackets a few nights ago in a 1-0 victory.

The Blackhawks move the puck like poetry and make passes you do not see from most teams. They have gifted players at every position and contrasting talent unlike any other team. Not all of the Blackhawks talent scores goals. From grinders, to fast skaters, to danglers and playmakers, the Blackhawks have a little bit of everything. There never seems to be a dull moment for very long in a Blackhawks’ game. They always find a way to cash in the big goal when it matters the most. Patrick Kane put some of the excitement on display when he dished a no-look-behind-the-back pass to Marian Hossa to win a game in overtime earlier in the season.

Honorable Mention:  Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have some of the league’s most prestigious talent on their roster. Despite the gifted players on their roster, the Oilers have yet to bring “it” all together. With Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and number one overall pick, Nail Yakupov, the Oilers are only registering about two goals per game. The Oilers are underachieving.

Even though the Oilers young roster hasn’t put up the offense they would’ve liked, they have participated in some dramatic games this season. They lead the NHL with four victories when trailing after two periods.

The Oilers’ talent is world class and has certainly created some electrifying moments this season. If they bring everything together and learn what it takes to win, they have the ability to be the most entertaining team in the NHL. Sam Gagner’s shootout goal last week was one of those breathtaking moments fans don’t see every day.