With the NHL (National Hockey League) season beginning to get underway, it is around this time that it is probably best to start following a little closer. In recognition of that, here is something to help you catch-up with everything happening in the NHL right now.
There is nowhere more fun to start than with the cup contenders every season. After Pittsburgh won their fourth cup last season they will be looking to do what no team has done in over a decade and repeat as champions. After standing pat this offseason it will be interesting to see how they manage.
Meanwhile, Washington are pressing hard for their first Stanley Cup, especially after adding Lars Eller on draft day and their apparent drift into complacency during the second half of last season. If that trend becomes the norm this season and their red-hot power play gets figured out then Ovi and Co. are going to find it rough going. Other potential contenders include: San Jose, Tampa Bay and Nashville.
Adversely, teams from whom you should expect very little of this season include a Vancouver side that went through intense turnover, as well as Ottawa, New Jersey and Columbus.
From an individual perspective, players to watch are Connor McDavid, Connor McDavid and Connor McDavid hailing from Edmonton. If the Oilers are to break free of the cuffs that have kept them tied to the basement of the NHL since they so epically lost in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals then it will be because McDavid is a bonafide Hart Trophy contender.
Equally, it should be considered that the Oilers are just resigned to the anonymity of the bottom end of the standings. It is also worth noting that the Oilers’ most significant contribution to the league in the last six years is probably wasting 1st overall draft picks (RIP Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov), so temper your expectations, Oilers and McDavid fans.
Instead, why not watch to see if Sidney Crosby can stay healthy enough to make the Hart Trophy his own? Other contenders would include Alexander Ovechkin (Washington), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Jamie Benn (Dallas), and Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay).
The race for the Calder should be squarely contested by Auston Matthews (Toronto) and Patrik Laine (Winnipeg), though there is a decent chance that Jesse Puljujärvi (Edmonton) pushes both of them for the honour.
In the hot seat right now are Michel Therrien (Montreal) and John Tortorella (Columbus). Therrien was surprisingly not given the axe after a terrible season last year and, after making big moves and putting his stamp on the team by controversially trading PK Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber, he is expected to deliver.
Finally, Tortorella has had a full pre-season with the Blue Jackets and is expected to produce a win, especially after such a poor showing last season. The key to this is the maintenance of his temper. If he can stay focused and on task there is no doubt that he is one of the better coaches in the league.
At last, if you are looking for a squad to pick up, fun teams to watch this season should be Dallas, Washington and Florida. Dallas has what should be a fiery offence, though some fun should be had in watching them get lit up themselves on occasion. Washington has Ovechkin, who plays the game in perhaps the most entertaining way ever seen in the post-lockout era. Florida, on the other hand, really went out and competed hard in the off-season market making them a team that could be great to watch this season.
That all being said, this season should be an interesting one to watch not only because of the quality on the ice but also because of the context in which a lot of teams are playing.
Image courtesy of Dan4thNicholas