Hockey is back!
Last night the NHL opened its season with the Pittsburgh Penguins vanquishing the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2 in the opener. In the nightcap, the Seattle Kraken made their NHL debut as the newest kids on the block, coming up short against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3.
THE FIRST GOALS IN SEATTLE KRAKEN HISTORY 🚨🦑 pic.twitter.com/vEc5105vym— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 13, 2021
So, yeah, hockey is definitely back, and with it our trio of teams in the New Jersey-New York City area are ready to roll.
A new era begins tonight for the New York Rangers, who begin their 2021-22 season with a new General Manager in Chris Drury, a new head coach in former Las Vegas Golden Knight’s head man, Gerard Gallant, and a team that features a combination of veteran and young players.
The Blue Shirts added three veteran players from three championship caliber teams: Barclay Goodrow, formally of the Tampa Bay Lightning; Ryan Reaves, acquired from the Golden Knights, and Sammy Blais, acquired from the St. Louis Blues. These players are expected to surround last years first overall pick, Alexi Lafreniere and Kappo Kakko in building a team that could challenge for the postseason. The Rangers haven’t been to the playoffs in two years, and haven’t advanced to the second round in four seasons.
This year’s squad is expected to much more physical than in recent years past. The Rangers begin their season tonight against the Washington Capitals.
Meanwhile the New Jersey Devils are looking at possibly another season of retooling. They feature only three players age 30 and over, including veteran P.K. Subban.
The majority of the roster features 19 players under the age of 26, like 20-year old Jack Hughes, 22-year old Nico Hirschier and 19-year old Dawson Mercer.
The Devils begin their season on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
And, last, but certainly not least, the New York Islanders are still trying to find a way to climb over the mountain known as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Isles lost to Tampa Bay in seven games in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Not only are the Islanders in great position to contend for, and capture the Stanley Cup, they are opening the state of the art UBS Arena in Belmont Park.
Before the Isles welcome fans to their new home, they will have to battle a 13-game road trip to begin the season. The home opener is November 20 against Calgary.
The Islanders were second in the league in goal-tending last season, allowing only 2.23 goals per game. Only the Las Vegas Golden Knights were better. New York led the league in save percentage at .925.
That could get challeneged a bit this season with goalie Semyon Varlamov on the IL, however, expect to see a lot of Ilya Sorokin in net for the Islanders, at least in the early part of the season. If the Islanders can be as good defensively as they were a year ago, it could be a great season ahead for the blue and orange.
The Islanders open the season at Carolina on Thursday night at 7 p.m.