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It’s opening night in the NHL, and we’ve got a great deal of questions
The 2019-20 season starts tonight with a handful of games, consisting of Ottawa vs. Toronto and Vancouver vs. Edmonton on nationwide (cable) TV here in Canada. Here are some things we’re questioning the league’s most intriguing groups:
Can Tampa Bay recover from one of the biggest upsets ever? The Lightning were basically everybody’s choice to win the Cup after creating one of the finest regular seasons of all time. They got swept in the first round by Columbus, which beat them from start to end up. Tampa is still the very best team in the league, but its air of invincibility is gone.
Was St. Louis a one-hit marvel? Everybody appears to believe so, due to the fact that it’s hard to keep in mind a safeguarding champ being this disrespected. Oddsmakers are saying half a dozen teams have a much better chance to win the Cup– consisting of Colorado, which is the trendiest group this year.
Will the Avalanche make the leap? There’s great reason to be excited about this team. Despite being underdogs in the playoffs, the young Avs ran Calgary off the ice in the preliminary, then gave a veteran San Jose group all it could manage in a seven-game series. Colorado has among the very best one-two forward punches in hockey with MVP prospect Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, and they added Nazem Kadri as a strong second-line centre. Defenceman Cale Makar is a competitor for rookie of the year after making his NHL debut in the playoffs.
Will the Leafs crash and burn again? Love ’em or dislike ’em, there’s never a dull minute with this group. Toronto is a Cup contender, a great deal of enjoyable to see, and swimming in drama. Coach Mike Babcock was already on the hot seat after a third straight first-round defeat, and things didn’t exactly cool off over the summer season. Mitch Marner’s complimentary firm dragged on until the team overpaid him, and we learnt last week that Auston Matthews was charged with disorderly conduct for an apparently inebriated incident down in Arizona back in the spring. This is still a championship-calibre roster. But if the Leafs stop working to get past the first round again, heads are gon na roll.
Did Winnipeg miss its window? The Jets appeared like a leading Cup competitor in 2017-18 and once again in 2015– up until they cratered in the 2nd half of the season and lost in the first round of the playoffs to St. Louis. There was talk of a dissatisfied dressing room, and Patrik Laine didn’t precisely assist matters a few weeks ago when he said he deserves much better linemates. If everyone can get along, the forwards must be terrific. It’s the blue-line that’s worrying. Star defenceman Dustin Byfuglien took a leave of absence and no one understands when he’ll be back. Depth was lost when bad-tempered Jacob Trouba was traded and Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot left in totally free agency. This appears like a make-or-break season for the Jets, and it’s difficult to think about a group with a broader variety of results.
Can the Hurricanes keep the enjoyable going? Their post-game “Storm Surge” celebrations were a hit with a lot of fans (especially younger ones), and they backed them up with some great play. With young centre Sebastian Aho leading the way, Carolina defied expectations by making it to the final four prior to getting swept by Boston. The Hurricanes do not seem like a fluke, but this was their first playoff look in a decade. Groups that make a huge dive like that typically take a step back the following year.
Can Connor McDavid save the Oilers from themselves? The NHL’s finest player is caught on among its worst teams. McDavid won the scoring title in 2017-18 and ended up second to Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov last year, however Edmonton missed the playoffs by a mile both times. To add injury to insult, McDavid injured his knee pretty seriously in the season ending. He seems great now, however the Oilers are not. There’s insufficient talent around McDavid. And instead of attempting something new, the team dipped into the recycling bin for its two most significant moves: Ken Holland was worked with as the brand-new GM and Dave Tippett as the brand-new head coach. Could be another long year.