The weather is getting colder so that can only mean one thing: it’s time for hockey! The 2016-17 NHL Season kicks off on Oct. 12. Before the ref drops that first puck, get to know all about the upcoming year of bone-crushing, jaw-dropping hockey.
1. Good neighbors make for better rivals.
Opening Day of the 2016-17 NHL Season is full of teams facing their in-state/providence rivals. The Toronto Maple Leaves will play the Ottawa Senators, while the St. Louis Blues battle the Chicago Blackhawks. The West Coast also sees some action as the Calgary Flames face fellow Albertans, the Edmonton Oilers. It’s also a Cali vs. Cali clash, as the Los Angeles Kings play the San Jose Sharks.
2. The odds are against a Pittsburgh repeat.
The last time a NHL team won back-to-back Stanley Cups were the Detroit Red Wings, who won the championship in 1997 and 1998. Since then, the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, and even the Red Wings came close to repeating as champs.
With Sidney Crosby, 29, recovering from a concussion he got during a practice, per The Globe & Mail, the season might start off on the wrong skate for the defending Stanley Cup champs. However, the squad has an embarrassment of riches. With two awesome goalies (Matt Murray, 22, and Marc-Andre Fleury, 31) and an offensive trio of Carl Hagelin, 28, Nick Bonino, 28, and Phil Kessel, 29, the Pens might be able to pull it off.
3. The Ducks might be dead on the ice.
The Anaheim Ducks were eliminated in the first round of the 2015-16 NHL Playoffs and many will be surprised if they get that far again. After sacking coach Bruce Boudreau, 61, for Randy Carlyle, 60, many have already written the Ducks off. Randy favors tough, physical hockey, per NESN, while the Ducks found success with speedy style. This clash might have sunk the Ducks before the season ever started.
4. Watch out for the Lightning.
Steven Stamkos, 26, signed an eight-year-deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Add in two goalies who are like living brick walls — Ben Bishop, 29, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, 22, – and it’s not a surprise that many expect Tampa Bay to raise the Cup at the end of the season.
5. Don’t sleep on Auston Matthews.
The Leafs picked the 19-year-old American as the overall No. 1 draft pick, hoping the hockey prodigy could help them have a much better season than last year. While it may take Auston to become the superstar everyone expects him to be, keep an out for the young man from Scottsdale. He’ll likely pull out some surprises during this season.
Are you excited for the new NHL season, HollywoodLifers? Who do you think will win the Stanley Cup?