Tomorrow is the day all hockey fans have marked down on their calendar, NHL’s regular season begins! It’s an exciting time, starting into a new season of hockey and trying to predict how things will unfold. There are some especially interesting storylines that fans can follow this season and many questions up in the air about how things will shake out. So while we await that much anticipated puck drop tomorrow night, let’s build the excitement by exploring some of the burning questions about the new hockey season.
Can the Penguins threepeat?
The first and most obvious question that comes up at the start of every new season is always “Who’s going to win the Cup?” – but this year, that question has changed into whether or not the Penguins can pull off the 3-peat. Last season they were the first team in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, so the question is inevitable really. Nevertheless, despite all the off-season trades and teams making their presence known, Pittsburgh remains a daunting champion team to overthrow. The same winning team remains virtually the same, with the addition of the return of defenseman Kris Letang, with an effective coaching staff. Then there’s the superstars. Malkin has proven to be a force that few teams have been able to stop, and Crosby remains the leagues best player and one of the most effective captain in the leagues history. Sure, there are a lot of potential spoilers out there, but as the season gets ready to start, they look like early frontrunners.
How dangerous are the Maple Leafs?
One of the teams that any are hoping can give Pittsburgh some trouble is the Toronto Maple Leafs. There hasn’t been a whole lot for Leafs fans to be excited about in recent years, but the current team has a lot of people talking. Last years finals saw the young team give favourites Washington Capitals a considerably hard time. It is a dynamic squad of exciting young talent like Austen Matthews, and they are bolstered by the off-season addition of Patrick Marleau. But coach Mike Babcock has been trying to temper expectations for the promising team, and for good reason. Though on paper they have a lot of potential, there’s a lot of room for them to improve, especially in the defense department.
How will the Las Vegas Golden Knights fare in their first season?
For the first time since 2000, the league has a new team. Last year it was announced that Las Vegas would become the 31st NHL team, later named the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The expansion draft, though given considerable press in the off-season, was not as dramatic as it was made out to be, with Marc-Andre Fleury being the biggest headline. The question now is how will the new team fare. Ironically, Vegas odds have them finishing in last place. Analysts agree they probably won’t make too much noise their first year, but predict a better showing than expected. Historically, new teams have trouble right out of the gate, so some struggles are to be expected. However, given this week’s tragedy in Las Vegas, many of us will be cheering loud for the newest member of the league.
How will the big trades play out?
The off-season is always a good way of shaking things up in terms of where each team stands. There were some big moves made this summer and suddenly some teams have become real contenders. The aforementioned Leafs and the acquisition of Marleau was a big deal as the young team can certainly benefit from a proven veteran. Montreal hopes to improve their scoring troubles by adding Jonathan Drouin to the roster. Then there’s the brand-new Las Vegas line-up and the many question that come with how they will play together. But perhaps the biggest question comes from the Dallas Stars, whose troubles a couple seasons ago signaled a necessary change and with the off-season additions of the likes of Ben Bishop, Marc Methot and Alexander Radulov, they could be a real threat.
Will the Canadian teams make another solid effort?
Every Canadian remembers when, just two years ago, not a single Canadian team made it into the playoffs. It was a troubling time for a nation who prides itself on hockey talent. Luckily, last year the Canadian squads redeemed themselves with five of the seven teams reaching the playoffs. So which waay will it go this year? Will our teams make another good showing? Will they get shut out again? Somewhere in the middle? While Vancouver will likely limp along for much of the season again, six of the season teams are certainly playoff contenders, and Edmonton, with league leader McDavid at the head, may even have a shot at finally bringing the Cup home again.