Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/21/13
Any time teams around the league take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, coaches continue to ask the same question. “How do we stop Steven Stamkos?” The Tampa left winger led the NHL in goals last season when he put in 60 total goals throughout the year, which won him the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. Stamkos’ early-season success this year has put him right back into the running again. However, with many others getting off to hot starts, there are plenty of contenders looking to take the title away from Stamkos. Sabres forward and resident Bruins killer Thomas Vanek enters Thursday as the current league leader in goals (12) and points (25). Those numbers are extremely surprising, considering the most that Vanek has ever scored in an 82-game season was 43. It will be interesting to see if the Buffalo star can keep up his pace. Islanders forward John Tavares is also having a stellar season so far. Tavares already has 11 goals and is on pace to pass his record for a full season (31 goals) in about half the time. As is the case with Vanek, it will be interesting to see if Tavares can continue to put up numbers that he never has before. Out west, Chicago right wing Patrick Kane is also having early-season success, as is his entire team. Kane’s nine goals lead a Blackhawks team that is averaging over three goals per game. Kane’s plus-nine rating further supports his value playing for a team in Chicago that has yet to suffer a regulation loss. Take Our Poll

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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