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The NHL season opens tonight (once more) (kind of).
Confused? You’re not alone. Technically, the 2022-23 season started Friday, when the Nashville Predators earned their first of two wins over the San Jose Sharks in Prague. Tonight, the NHL returns to North America, however with simply two video games: an all-U.S. doubleheader that includes Tampa Bay vs. the New York Rangers and Vegas vs. Los Angeles. Tomorrow is likely to be thought of the “actual” opening night time, with Colorado elevating its Stanley Cup banner earlier than taking up Chicago and the first 4 Canadian groups hitting the ice as Toronto visits Montreal and Vancouver travels to Edmonton.
Given tonight’s all-American slate, and the proven fact that we previewed all seven Canadian golf equipment in Friday’s publication, listed below are some key questions involving the NHL’s U.S.-based groups for this season:
Can the Avalanche repeat? With 2022 Conn Smythe and Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar already locked up long-term and famous person ahead Nathan MacKinnon now signed to considered one of the largest contracts in NHL historical past, the Avs have laid the basis for a possible dynasty. But the defending champs misplaced key forwards Nazem Kadri and André Burakovsky in free company, whereas captain Gabriel Landeskog is out indefinitely with a lower-body harm. There’s additionally a giant query mark in internet, the place the Avs hope former Rangers backup Alexandar Georgiev can fill the gap left when Darcy Kuemper signed with Washington.
Is the Lightning dynasty* coming to an finish? It’s debatable whether or not this crew is worthy of that distinction, however Tampa Bay turned the first membership in 37 years to achieve three straight Cup finals and fell simply two wins wanting a three-peat when Colorado beat them in six. That’s a exceptional achievement in the salary-cap period. It’s additionally rather a lot of hockey. The Lightning core of Steven Stamkos (32 years previous), Victor Hedman (31), Nikita Kucherov (29) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (28) might need to dig deep for one other lengthy playoff run.
Will Alex Ovechkin ever slow down? Despite turning 37 final month, the relentless Russian is exhibiting no indicators of decline. He reached the 50-goal plateau for the ninth time final season, tying Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky’s NHL document. Now Ovechkin has some even greater milestones in his sights. He wants simply 20 extra objectives to achieve 800 for his profession, and 21 to match Gordie Howe for the second-most of all time. Gretzky’s as soon as untouchable-seeming document of 894 is inside attain too. If Ovechkin can preserve his profession common of 46 objectives, he’ll catch the Great One halfway by the 2024-25 season.
Are the Coyotes… sort of cool? The NHL’s most moribund franchise completed second-last total in 2021-22 and almost received kicked out of its enviornment for unpaid taxes. There’s little hope for this season both, as many are projecting Arizona to complete lifeless final. And but, the Coyotes have stumbled their method into some caché with their weird resolution to maneuver in with a university crew. This might sound like the pitch for a Will Ferrell film, however the Coyotes have agreed to play no less than the subsequent three seasons at 5,000-seat Mullett Arena (precise identify) on the Arizona State University campus. The constructing’s capability is thrice smaller than any other in the NHL, and but the Coyotes declare they’ve boosted their season-ticket income by 50 per cent due to their capability to cost greater costs in the extra intimate venue, which they count on to promote out for each recreation. The on-ice product is likely to be worse than ever, however even that has a silver lining: a last-place end would give Arizona the finest shot at touchdown generational prospect Connor Bedard in the draft.