The storylines to watch this season in the NHL
The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to win the Stanley Cup for a third straight year, and the other 31 NHL teams, including the Seattle Kraken, which will play its inaugural season, will try to prevent it.
« They probably think they got there once, so it could work again, » said the Chicago Blackhawks forward. Patrick kane, three-time Stanley Cup champion. “I think they could do it, but I hope someone will stop them. Hopefully it will be us. «
READ ALSO : NHL.com predictions for the 2021-22 season
The old sections are back, while the Eastern Association is made up of the Atlantic and Metropolitan sections and the Central and Pacific sections form the Western Association. The League realigned its sections last season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The deadline for transactions will be March 21 at 3:00 p.m. EST. The last day of the regular season is April 29, while the Stanley Cup final will not go beyond June 30.
Here are ten storylines to watch as the NHL prepares to play a full first season since 2019-20.
Never two without three
The Lightning will hoist their second Stanley Cup banner to the heights of Amalie Arena in a seven-month gap before starting their season against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, ESPN, ESPN +).
The Lightning had waited until March 13 before holding the ceremony marking the 2020 championship in order to do so in the presence of fans in the arena. It was his 11th meeting of the season. Tampa Bay won’t wait this year, as the Amalie Arena is expected to be filled to capacity in the opener.
Video: MTL @ TBL, # 5: Colton completes Savard’s great pass
No team has won the Stanley Cup three times in a row since the New York Islanders’ four consecutive championships between 1980 and 1983.
Free the Kraken!
Seattle’s first season will inevitably be compared to that of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18. Vegas set the bar high by reaching the Stanley Cup final before losing to the Washington Capitals.
« All of our opponents are going to adapt because they saw what happened with Vegas and the quality of the team they put together, » said the Seattle defenseman. Mark Giordano at the NHL podcast @TheRink. “We will have to create our own identity and make our own way. «
The first game of the Kraken is against the Golden Knights on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, ESPN, ESPN +).
Another domination of McDavid and Matthews?
Connor mcdavid won the Art-Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games last season. The Edmonton Oilers center averaged 1.88 points per game, ranking 22nd in NHL history among players who have played 56 games or more.
McDavid maintained a 154-point pace over an 82-game season. Can he do it again? Can he do even better?
Auston matthews won the Maurice-Richard Trophy as the top scorer with 41 goals in 52 games last season. In NHL history, five players have scored as many goals or more playing fewer games than the Toronto Maple Leafs center last season: Cam Neely (50 for 49; 1993-94), Maurice Richard (50 in 50; 1944-45), Joe Malone (44 in 20; 1917-18), Cooney Weiland (43 in 44; 1929-30) and Dit Clapper (41 in 44; 1929-30).
Video: MTL @ TOR: Matthews scores his 40th goal of the season
Matthews would have scored 64 goals in an 82-game campaign. The Lightning Center Steven stamkos is the last player to score at least 60 goals in a season (2011-12). Can Matthews be the first to do this in a decade?
The end of lethargy for some teams?
The Maple Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004, losing in seven games four times, including last season, when they screwed up a 3-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens. Will we finally ward off bad luck in Toronto?
The Colorado Avalanche has failed to make the second round of the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Will she finally get there?
The Islanders have lost in the third round to the Lightning in each of the past two seasons, including losing 1-0 in Game 7 last season. Will they be able to reach the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1984?
The New York Rangers haven’t been a streak winner since 2017. They’ve announced they are starting a rebuild in 2018. Will they turn the corner this season?
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, the Los Angeles Kings have won a playoff game in two appearances. Will they manage to recreate some magic?
Canadians deprived of their leaders
The Canadiens reached the Stanley Cup final last season in large part thanks to the goalie Carey Price and the defender Shea weber, but both will not be available to start the season.
Weber’s career is in jeopardy with a plethora of injuries, and general manager Marc Bergevin even referred to him in the past tense on Thursday, saying he « left a legacy. » «
Price will be sidelined from the squad because he voluntarily decided to enter the NHL / NHLPA Player Assistance Program. It’s unclear when he’ll be back, but Bergevin said he’s optimistic it will be this season.
Bergevin believes the Canadiens have enough leaders in the locker room to move forward without Price and Weber.
“I think they’re going to be up to it again,” said Bergevin.
Impressive Penguins streak put to the test
The Penguins have made the playoffs in 15 straight seasons, the longest active streak of their kind in the NHL. They have not been excluded from the spring tournament since 2005-06, when the center Sidney crosby was a recruit.
But the team must contend with injuries to Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin, and the two won’t start the season at the same time as their teammates.
Malkin will be out for at least the first two months of the season because he is recovering from knee surgery he suffered on June 4. Crosby is set to miss a few games as he recovers from wrist surgery on September 8.
“There is adversity and we all know it,” said GM Ron Hextall. “Players will have the opportunity to demonstrate what they can accomplish, a chance they would not have obtained otherwise. We will need players to take their game up a notch. «
The Islanders far from the comfort of their new home at the start of the season
The Islanders will open UBS Arena this season, but not before they have played 13 straight away games. Their first meeting in their new home will be on November 20 against the Calgary Flames.
The Islanders will face 12 different teams (they will face the Panthers twice) in nine states and two provinces in a 34-day gap before their first home game.
However, they will recover later by playing 10 home games in December and January, then 11 in March. They will conclude the season playing five of their last seven meetings at home.
Motivated by an Olympic year
The NHL is preparing to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2014, and several countries have already announced the first three players of their roster.
« I think it’s going to give us extra energy during the season because you know you have to be held back by the team, » said the Rangers center Mika zibanejad, who was one of three players already selected for the Sweden squad. “You want to make sure you’re playing well enough to be a part of the squad, so I think that’s going to push us to play better, and it’s going to make our team better by the gang. «
The NHL will be taking a break for the All-Star Game weekend and the Olympic break between February 3 and 22.
The Olympic tournament will be held from February 9 to 19.
Ovechkin in Gretzky’s Footsteps
Alex ovechkin has 730 goals and will elapse the first season of a five-year, $ 47.5 million (average annual value of $ 9.5 million) contract signed with the Capitals on July 27.
The 36-year-old would break Wayne Gretzky’s record 894 goals towards the end of his five-year contract if he averaged 33 goals per season. He hit the target 24 times in 45 outings last season.
« He has a legitimate chance of doing it, » said Gretzky.
Ovechkin could end the season third all-time behind Gretzky and Gordie Howe (801). He’s one goal behind Marcel Dionne and fifth, 11 goals behind Brett Hull and fourth, and 36 goals behind Jaromir Jagr and third.
Big names are back
Jonathan toews is at the head of a group of players who are back with their respective teams to start the season after missing all or most of the last campaign.
Toews, the 33-year-old Blackhawks captain, is hopeful of making the opener against the Avalanche on Wednesday after missing all of last season with systemic inflammatory response syndrome.
Video: CHI @ VGK, # 5: Toews defeats Lehner on comeback
Anders Lee is back with the Islanders after the forward and captain missed his last 29 games and 19 playoff games with a torn ligament.
Aaron Ekblad will return with the Panthers. The defenseman missed the last 21 games of last season and Florida’s six playoff games with a broken leg he sustained on March 28.
Tyler seguin donned the Dallas Stars uniform for three games late in the campaign, after missing the first 51 games following hip surgery. The center, who has not appeared in the last two games of the season in Dallas, is healthy to start the current campaign.
Vancouver Canucks Center Elias Pettersson is also back after missing 30 games with a wrist injury. Pettersson signed a three-year contract worth $ 7.35 million annually on October 3.