The Los Angeles Kings are making a case for themselves in the Western Conference, but a look at the 2017-18 NHL standings says that the Tampa Bay Lightning, no-shows in the playoffs a year ago, are running the show as the league's No. 1 team.

The Kings and Vegas Golden Knights, another surprise hotshot in the Pacific Division, have surrendered fewer goals despite very different situations in net. But it's the Lightning, with their 9-1-1 start and 44 goals scored, a total that tops even the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs, who have established themselves as early favorites in the East.

Forward depth has helped pave the way to a record 6-0-0 start at home, and Mikhail Sergachev's early presence on the blue line has been welcome as well. But nothing is driving the Lightning as they strike the rest of the NHL like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.

Both are big names in and outside of Tampa, so it's not as if they shouldn't be the catalysts for success there. Success, however, has looked a little different early in the 2017-18 season. Success, for the Lightning, has been consistent, unparalleled dominance.

Kucherov, 24, leads the league with 12 goals -- a total topping even that of the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, who posted a whopping seven through his first two games. And Stamkos, 27, back from an injury that kept him off the ice for much of 2016-17, leads the league with 21 points -- a total barely better than that of Kucherov and comfortably above that of the Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews.

The real damage of the duo's scoring, however, has come in the streak. Neither Kucherov nor Stamkos has finished a game without at least one point through 11 games, tying them for the season-opening franchise record with Martin St. Louis. Both players have had seven different multi-point games thus far, with Stamkos racking up 14 points in his past six matchups, including games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

Further exemplifying just how deadly the two have been in Tampa Bay's early surge, here's a look at how both Kucherov and Stamkos have fared in the past week alone:





Oct. 19

Blue Jackets

1 assist

2 assists

Oct. 21


2 goals, 1 assist

1 goal, 3 assists

Oct. 24


1 goal

2 assists

Oct. 26

Red Wings

1 goal, 1 assist

1 goal