Colorado and Tampa Bay among favorites to play in NHL Finals

The NHL regular season resumes Friday… in Prague. Colorado and Tampa Bay, champion and finalist last season, can again claim the Stanley Cup. Edmonton, Calgary and Carolina are shaping up to be formidable outsiders.

We open in Prague

The 2022-2023 NHL season will start far from its bases. Match point in Canada or the United States, Friday. The Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks will indeed face each other in Prague. After two years disrupted by Covid-19, the North American pro league has decided to organize matches in Europe again, as was the case from 2007 to 2011 and then from 2017 to 2019 in particular. There will be two other meetings on the Old Continent: November 4 and 5 in Tampere (Finland), the Colorado Avalanche and the Columbus Blue Jackets will be opponents. In North America, the first matches will take place next Tuesday.

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Colorado and Tampa Bay new favorites

Last June, Colorado won the Stanley Cup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Three months later, both teams are claiming the title again. On the side of the Avalanche, the goaltender Darcy Kuemper and Nazem Kadri left, in Washington and Calgary. But the team remains competitive, with MacKinnon, Makar, Landeskog, Girard and Alexander Georgiev, the new  »goalie ». Tampa Bay retained almost all of its executives (Stamkos, Kucherov, Hedman, Vasilevskiy). Ondrej Palat and Ryan McDonagh have decided to take up new challenges in New Jersey and Nashville.

Ambitious Edmonton, Calgary and Carolina

The « Battle of Alberta » – matches between Edmonton and Calgary, two cities in the province of the same name – promises. The Oilers offense is formidable with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane. Calgary recruited Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida), Nazem Kadri (Colorado) and MacKenzie Weegar (Florida). Carolina also wants to play leading roles. His attack and defense are solid. Goalkeeper Frederik Andersen is operational after a knee injury last season. And the Hurricanes have recruited experienced players, with Max Pacioretty, Brent Burns and Paul Stastny.

Bellemare, the only Frenchman at the start

There were three French in the NHL last season. For now, there is only one on the starting line for the 2022-2023 season (teams still have a few days to file the roster list with the NHL). Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who has found his place with the Tampa Bay Lightning, is leaving for a new adventure in Florida. Alexander Texier, who belongs to Columbus, has asked, for personal reasons, to return to Europe. He plays in Switzerland, in Zurich. Finally Antoine Roussel left Arizona and has no team for the moment. Tested by Philadelphia, it has not been preserved.

Montreal still in pain?

The Montreal Canadiens’ last season was disastrous. The Quebec franchise finished last in the NHL for the first time since … 1940. The offseason was marked by a few decisions, which surprised. Martin St. Louis, the coach who arrived during last season, without reference, was kept. During the draft, Montreal ignored the great prospect Shane Wright. And the Canadians transferred Alexander Romanov, one of the rare satisfactions of last season. Finally Carey Price, the emblematic goalkeeper, will miss the start of the season, due to a knee problem. He might not even play at all this year.

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