Sweet Sweet October the best month of the entire year. Playoff baseball, football season in full swing, HOCKEY IS BACK and Halloween. You can’t beat it. It feels like the offseason lasted too long for the NHL but tonight is Opening Night and there are four games on the slate.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Winnipeg Jets
The 2016 top picks Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine will be squaring off to open the season. Last year the Maple Leafs made the playoffs as the three seed in the Atlantic and were lead by their youthful lineup and three studs Matthews, Marner and Nylander. The Winnipeg Jets look to start their season off on the right foot and sneak back into the playoffs after missing last season. The Jets have a good mix of youth and veterans on their team. Emerging last season was Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers. They’ve also got that core leadership group with Wheeler, Byfuglien and Little.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. St. Louis Blues
The defending cup champs open their season against a formidable opponent in the Blues. The Penguins have been able to keep most of their Stanley Cup winning roster intact their key loss was likely Nick Bonino. That Penguins lineup is still deadly with Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and the Guentzel who emerged during last year’s playoffs. The Penguins are a scary team and they’ll be right back in the playoffs no doubt this season. The St. Louis Blues aren’t too shabby themselves and they have been a perennial playoff contender with Tarasenko leading their scoring the past few seasons. With some role scorers in Steen, Shwartz and Stastny the Blues will be right back in the thick of it and the defending Cup champs should be an interesting challenge for their opener.
Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are a budding team and are spearheaded by Connor McDavid who has proven himself to be worthy of all the hype by leading the NHL in scoring last season. The Oilers are more than McDavid though as Draisatl stepped up huge for them last season and Patrick Maroon potted 27 goals and role players Lucic and Nugent-Hopkins will continue to contribute on deeper lines. The Flames took a sweep to end their season last year and look to start this season with a win. Johnny Hockey led the Flames last season aided by Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund. THe defensive core of the Flames is still there with Giordano at the helm and Dougie Hamilton as a key piece. New netminder Mike Smith is eager to make a good impression with his new team.
San Jose Sharks vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The Sharks lost one of their core members in Patrick Marleau but they were able to retain Joe Thornton. The Sharks finished third in the Pacific last year and lost in the first round to the Oilers. Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are looked to lead the Sharks once again into the playoffs. The Flyers are trying to have a rebound season after a lackluster year and captain Claude Giroux plans on bringing the Flyers back into the playoff picture with the help of Voracek and Simmonds. Flyers are looking to their young defenseman to take the lead on the blueline, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. New addition Brian Elliott will start between the pipes for the Flyers and looks to have a bounce back year after a brutal season last year.
Hockey is back and opening night is here make sure to catch tonight’s games on NBCSN at 8 and 10.
Written By Tyler Smith (@TylerSmith4386)