5 things hockey fans should be thankful for

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What better way for hockey fans to celebrate American Thanksgiving than to look back on the early stages of the hockey season and revel in what has been?

With that in mind, here are five storylines that hockey fans can appreciate through the quarter mark of the 2016-17 campaign:

Healthy Crosby

Quite simply, hockey is better when Sidney's around. The "Next One" in the line of hockey's generational superstars, Crosby has already captured a host of accolades in his relatively short career. His trophy case includes five gold medals with Canada, two Stanley Cups, two Harts, and a pair of Art Ross wins, among other honors.

A prolific playmaker, Crosby added to his repertoire in 2009-10 when he won the Rocket Richard on the back of a 51-goal season. This year, he's out to showcase that goal-scoring side of his game. With 14 goals in 14 games, Sid the Kid is on pace for an absurd 76 goals. The NHL hasn't seen totals that high since Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny both hit 76 during the 1992-93 campaign.

Rookie class

Hockey fans have been treated to a delectable rookie class that includes the likes of Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, and the Toronto Maple Leafs trio of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner, among others.

It's lining up to be an exciting race to Calder honors, with the above five sitting atop the freshman scoring race, separated by just three points. Laine leads the way with 18 points in 22 games, while his 12 goals sit shy of only Crosby's 14.

Price is right

Puckheads haven't seen goaltending this dominant since the days of Dominik Hasek manning the crease for the Buffalo Sabres. Once again, Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price is proving to be the league's MVP. Through 13 games, Price has 11 wins and just one regulation loss, plus a remarkable .943 save percentage, having allowed only 23 goals on the year.

The Habs fell off the map last year in the absence of Price, who missed all but 12 games with a knee injury. As a result, the Canadiens struck out on the postseason for the first time in four years. But things are all good this season, with Price healthy and the Canadiens sporting the NHL's best record of 14-4-2 through 20 games.

Highlight goals

The summer's World Cup wasn't short on intrigue, and much of that excitement has carried over to the early portion of the NHL season, with fans across the hockey map spoiled with so many highlight-reel plays.

Whether you're talking Matthews' four-goal debut, Patrick Kane's electrifying goal against the Canadiens, or Connor McDavid's pair of goals over the Calgary Flames in the season opener, hockey fans are certainly thankful for offense in the season's early goings.

Vegas, baby!

Hockey fans are about to see the NHL's first foray into expansion since the addition of the Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild in 2000. This time around, the Vegas Golden Knights will have the opportunity to build a team that should prove to be competitive sooner than previous expansion entries due to the NHL limiting the 30 current clubs' ability to protect players, leaving plenty of talent free for Vegas' picking.

The Golden Knights will begin play in 2016-17, and team owner Bill Foley has already made a number of impressive hires, including GM George McPhee, the former manager of the Washington Capitals. Next on the docket? The team's first bench boss.

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