There might maybe be extra high-diploma hockey on tap over the following 9 months than ever ahead of.
Thanks to the addition of the Seattle Kraken because the NHL’s 32nd franchise and the return to a tubby time desk, 1,312 usual-season games are draw to be performed ahead of the starting up of the playoffs next spring. Add 30 games in Beijing because the league’s gamers return to the Olympics and the avenue to the Stanley Cup is a marathon.
The season gets below manner Tuesday night when the attend-to-attend champion Tampa Bay Lightning elevate one other banner and host the Pittsburgh Penguins, the closing crew to prefer the Cup twice in a row in 2016 and 2017. The Krakenalso play their first usual-season sport — at Vegas, four years after the Golden Knights were the league’s closing growth crew.
AP Hockey Writers Larry Lage, John Wawrow and Stephen Whyno net you ready for the season with a rundown of what to perceive.
Unleashing the Kraken brings the NHL to the Pacific Northwest with a crew that’s selling merchandise at a snappily spin and might maybe well maybe contend honest away relish Vegas did. Seattle would want to attain the Stanley Cup Remaining to verify the Golden Knights.
The two groups that net to the closing will again crawl the archaic manner thru the Eastern or Western Convention, after the 56-sport 2021 season turned into as soon as performed entirely internal four divisions till the semifinals. Substandard-border play is attend, too, and every crew is scheduled to play the diversified 31 no longer no longer up to twice — as soon as at dwelling and on the avenue.
Those games will air on ESPN’s networks, ABC and TNT within the U.S. within the first season of a modern TV deal. Puck circulate will be tracked with microchips for the first time, opening the door for a Zamboni load of most up to the moment records and gambling alternatives.
Barring a flip for the extra serious by the pandemic, the league will snatch a three-week damage in February for gamers to grab half within the Olympics for the first time since 2014.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Three groups changed coaches closing season, alongside with Montreal, which went to the closing after changing Claude Julien with Dominique Ducharme. Greater than just a few coaches wants to be having a contain about over their shoulders this 365 days, however whose seat is most up to the moment?
Lage: Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault took a step attend as his crew done sixth within the division closing season in his second 365 days. He faces stress, leading a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 5 of the closing 9 years and whose closing Cup Remaining tear came in 2010.
Wawrow: Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher did his phase in retooling the roster following Philadelphia’s second-half meltdown closing season. It’s on Vigneault to invent it work. Jeremy Colliton in Chicago has an 86-83-24 sage since changing Joel Quenneville.
Whyno: Colliton will must snatch the following step with the Blackhawks shifting into contender mode, or he might maybe well maybe very nicely be in effort. Darryl Sutter honest got Calgary’s head job after changing Geoff Ward closing season, however the warmth is on if the Flames fight early and feeble Canadiens coach Kirk Muller is on workers if issues crawl haywire.
Hart Trophy (MVP)
Lage: Edmonton Oilers heart Connor McDavid, who received the award closing 365 days for the second time in 5 years and done third or fifth the diversified three seasons.
Wawrow: Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, who has done second twice and third as soon as within the vote casting. It’s time the NHL’s most total participant gets top billing.
Whyno: MacKinnon is a individual on a mission. He’ll play a Hart-caliber season, however he wishes the Cup.
Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender)
Lage: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy does now not net the credit score he deserves attributable to he performs for the very best crew within the league.
Wawrow: Let’s crawl with a long-shot with Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom. The Flames are playing in a Pacific Division that can very nicely be the NHL’s weakest in featuring six of eight groups that failed to invent the playoffs closing 365 days.
Whyno: Nothing against reigning Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury, however Vasilevskiy is the very best goalie on this planet.
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman)
Lage: Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore, a rising large identify who’s due for the distinction playing for a Stanley Cup contender.
Wawrow: Uncertain what extra Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman needed to fabricate closing 365 days to kill his second Norris. Hedman is too handsome to no longer be a contender again this 365 days.
Whyno: Cale Makar stacks the trophy case for the Avalanche. He honest has to live healthy.
Calder Trophy (Top Rookie)
Lage: Detroit defenseman Moritz Seider, drafted No. 6 overall in 2019, provides a rebuilding crew desperately most considerable assist on the blue line.
Wawrow: Montreal’s undersized Cole Caufield proved within the course of the Cup Remaining tear he can fabricate on a immense stage. There’s no motive to request him to grab a step attend.
Whyno: Going off the board right here with Washington’s Hendrix Lapierre, who surprisingly sticks within the NHL at 19 and locations on a teach.
WHO MAKES THE PLAYOFFS
Lage: Tampa Bay, Carolina, N.Y. Islanders, Boston, Florida, Washington, Toronto, N.Y. Rangers
Wawrow: Florida, N.Y. Islanders, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Toronto, N.Y. Rangers, Washington, Montreal
Whyno: Tampa Bay, N.Y. Islanders, Boston, Washington, Florida, Toronto, Carolina, Philadelphia
Lage: Colorado, Vegas, Dallas, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Minnesota, Chicago
Wawrow: Colorado, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vegas, Minnesota, Calgary, St. Louis, Los Angeles
Whyno: Colorado, Vegas, Winnipeg, Seattle, St. Louis, Edmonton, Dallas, Minnesota
WHO WINS THE CUP
Lage: Tampa Bay over Colorado. Lightning are first NHL crew to three-peat since the Islanders dynasty within the early 1980s.
Wawrow: Islanders over Winnipeg. The Cup returns to Lengthy Island for the first time since 1983.
Whyno: Colorado over Islanders. MacKinnon earns Olympic gold in Beijing and makes obvious the Cup is lifted a mile high in Denver.
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