Avalanche chance for repeat among top storylines in NHL this season

The puck drops in North America on Tuesday.

The New York Rangers play the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN1, TVAS, SN NOW), and the Vegas Golden Knights play the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena (10 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN1, TVAS, SN NOW).

Many of the questions we have been asking throughout coaching camp and in the course of the preseason agenda stay at the entrance burner. Here are 10 with the large image of all of the season in thoughts:

Will the Avalanche have the scary Stanley Cup hangover?

It’s a query going into each and every season for each and every protecting Stanley Cup champion. The resolution in recent times has been no.

The Kings in 2014-15 are the remaining group to omit the Stanley Cup Playoffs the season after successful the Stanley Cup. There were two repeat champions since then, the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021.

The Lightning additionally reached the Stanley Cup Final remaining season, changing into the primary group because the Edmonton Oilers (1983-85) to get no less than that some distance in 3 consecutive seasons. Colorado beat the Lightning in six video games to win the Stanley Cup for the primary time since 2001.

The Avalanche are constructed for sustained good fortune too. It would not be sudden in the event that they repeat as champion. But they input the season with some considerations.

Gabriel Landeskog has a lower-body harm that is going again to remaining season and the ahead’s timetable for a go back is unknown.

They have a brand new No. 1 goalie in Alexandar Georgiev, who changed Darcy Kuemper, and Colorado has to discover a new No. 2 middle and make up for the manufacturing misplaced with middle Nazem Kadri signing with the Calgary Flames.

Kadri had 87 issues (28 aims, 59 assists) in 71 video games remaining season taking part in in the second one spot at the back of middle Nathan MacKinnon.

Video: NHL Tonight on Avalanche skill to be repeat champs

Are the Lightning nonetheless the favourite in the East?

The Lightning have represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final 3 consecutive seasons, the primary group to do this because the NHL modified the convention layout from Wales and Campbell meetings to Eastern and Western meetings in 1993.

Much of the Lightning’s core stays intact too, with forwards Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Pat Maroon, defensemen Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy returning.

They all were a part of the 3 groups that reached the Cup Final the previous 3 seasons, successful in 2020 and 2021 earlier than dropping to the Avalanche remaining season to finish their bid to be the primary group to win it 3 immediately years because the New York Islanders gained the Cup 4 occasions in a row from 1980-83.

“I think in the past we’ve been pretty good at putting the wins behind us and we have to do the same with losing,” Hedman stated at the “NHL @TheRink” podcast. “But the biggest key is we don’t have the same team going into this season. We have part of the core intact.”

Salary cap implications pressured the Lightning to business defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the Nashville Predators. They additionally weren’t ready to stay ahead Ondrej Palat, who signed a five-year contract with the New Jersey Devils. Each was once integral to the Lightning’s good fortune the previous 3 seasons.

Ian Cole, signed this offseason to exchange McDonagh, was once suspended by means of the Lightning on Sunday following allegations made him opposed to him. 

Can Shesterkin do it once more for the Rangers?

Igor Shesterkin was once the most productive goalie in the NHL remaining season and took house the {hardware} to end up it, receiving 29 of 32 first-place votes (plus 3 second-place votes) to win the Vezina Trophy. He completed 3rd in balloting for the Hart Trophy as essentially the most precious participant in the NHL.

The 26-year-old had 36 wins and led the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against reasonable and .935 save proportion (minimal 20 video games) in 53 video games. He had 10 wins, a 2.59 GAA and .929 save proportion in 20 playoff video games, serving to the Rangers achieve Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final earlier than dropping to the Lightning.

“What happened last season stays in last season,” Shesterkin instructed NHL.com. “Right now I need to show everybody it’s not a mistake, my last season. I just want to play much better and better.”

Shesterkin is 62-29-7 with a 2.31 GAA and .928 save proportion in 100 video games since debuting in the NHL on Jan. 7, 2020. No goalie who has performed in no less than 20 video games since that point has a greater save proportion. He’s 3rd among goalies with no less than 40 video games in GAA.

Are the Oilers going to take the next move with Campbell?

The Edmonton Oilers reached the Western Conference Final remaining season, beating the Calgary Flames in 5 video games in the second one spherical to get there. It was once the primary “Battle of Alberta” playoff collection since 1991.

But the Oilers have been swept by means of the Avalanche in the convention ultimate, permitting 22 aims in the 4 video games. They scored 13, a median of three.25 in line with sport, however allowed no less than 4 in each and every sport, together with 8 in Game 1 and 6 in Game 2.

Edmonton gave up 20 aims in 5 video games opposed to Calgary, however gained the collection as it scored 25, together with no less than 5 in 4 of the video games.

The Oilers hope they solved a few of their goals-against drawback by means of signing goalie Jack Campbell to a five-year, $25 million contract ($5 million reasonable annual price) on July 13.

Campbell performed in the 2022 NHL All-Star Game and was once 31-9-6 with 5 shutouts, a 2.64 GAA and .914 save proportion in 49 video games with the Toronto Maple Leafs remaining season.

“I think he’s going to help us,” ahead Leon Draisaitl stated. “He’ll really stabilize us.”

Video: NHL Tonight on Oilers expectancies and Jack Campbell

Are the Flames higher after giant adjustments throughout offseason?

The Flames had a seismic offseason.

There was once the blockbuster business July 22 that despatched ahead Matthew Tkachuk, who had 104 issues (42 aims, 62 assists) remaining season, to the Florida Panthers for ahead Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 115 issues (30 aims, 85 assists) remaining season, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.

The Flames misplaced ahead Johnny Gaudreau, who additionally had 115 issues (40 aims, 75 assists) remaining season, in unfastened company; he signed a seven-year, $68.25 million contract ($9.75 million AAV) with the Columbus Blue Jackets on July 13. But Calgary changed him with Kadri, who signed a seven-year, $49 million contract ($7 million AAV) on Aug. 18.

All instructed, the Flames changed Gaudreau and Tkachuk with Huberdeau and Kadri, and added Weegar to their protection. Huberdeau and Weegar additionally every signed an eight-year contract to stick with Calgary.

“I think it’s a better team than we had before,” Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom stated at the “NHL @TheRink” podcast.

Do the Maple Leafs have a No. 1 goalie?

Teams by no means need to input the season with goaltending as their largest query mark, however that is the place the Maple Leafs are as they get ready to play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, ESPN+, SN NOW).

With Campbell long gone to Edmonton, the Maple Leafs input the season with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov as their goaltending tandem.

Murray is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017), however he’s 35-36-8 with a three.06 GAA and .899 save proportion in 85 video games the previous 3 seasons, one with the Penguins and two with the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto were given the 28-year-old in a business from the Senators for long run concerns July 11.

Samsonov was once selected by means of the Washington Capitals in the primary spherical (No. 22) of the 2015 NHL Draft. He was once intended to be the Capitals goalie of the longer term, however he stumbled remaining season with a three.02 GAA and .896 save proportion in 44 video games.

Washington didn’t prolong the 25-year-old a qualifying be offering after remaining season, making him an unrestricted unfastened agent. He signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract with Toronto on July 13.

“I’ve gotten to know Ilya, and we get along well,” Murray stated. “We push each other, yeah, but we also help each other. That chemistry is important in a goalie tandem.”

Can Ottawa, Detroit and/or Buffalo make the playoffs?

The Atlantic Division was once top heavy remaining season with 32 issues keeping apart the fourth-place Boston Bruins (107 issues) from the fifth-place Buffalo Sabres (75 issues).

But adjustments may well be coming for the reason that Sabres had a powerful moment part remaining season and plan to construct on it, and the Detroit Red Wings (74 issues remaining season) and Ottawa Senators (73 issues) made vital upgrades to their rosters throughout the offseason.

Buffalo gained 16 of its ultimate 28 video games remaining season (16-9-3), permitting for hope that the longest lively playoff drought in the NHL (the Sabres have not made the playoffs since 2011) is with reference to finishing.

The Senators, who have not reached the playoffs since 2017, got forwards Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux throughout the offseason so as to add to a top-six ahead crew that already featured Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson, every of whom is 24 or more youthful.

They additionally got goalie Cam Talbot in a business with the Minnesota Wild, however he is out 5-7 weeks as a result of an upper-body harm sustained Oct. 4.

The Red Wings, after defenseman Moritz Seider and ahead Lucas Raymond completed first and fourth, respectively, in balloting for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the yr remaining season, added veteran intensity.

They signed forwards Andrew Copp and David Perron, and defenseman Ben Chiarot and Olli Maatta. They additionally got goalie Ville Husso in a business with the St. Louis Blues after he was once 25-7-6 with a 2.56 GAA and .919 save proportion in 40 video games.

Meanwhile, the Bruins will get started the season with out defensemen Charlie McAvoy (left shoulder) and Matt Grzelcyk (proper shoulder), and ahead Brad Marchand (each hips).

Video: 2022-2023 Team Preview: Ottawa Senators

How a lot nearer will Ovechkin get to Gretzky’s document?

After scoring 50 aims remaining season, Washington Capitals ahead Alex Ovechkin is 3rd all-time with 780, 21 at the back of Gordie Howe for moment (801) and 114 clear of tying Wayne Gretzky’s NHL document of 894.

Ovechkin, at 36 years outdated remaining season, changed into the oldest participant in NHL historical past to attain 50 aims in a season. It was once his 9th 50-goal season, tying him with Gretzky and Mike Bossy for essentially the most all time.

Ovechkin grew to become 37 on Sept. 17. Howe and Johnny Bucyk are the one avid gamers in NHL historical past to attain no less than 40 aims in a season once they already had grew to become 37.

Ovechkin has 4 seasons closing at the five-year, $47.5 million contract ($9.5 million AAV) he signed July 27, 2021. He must reasonable 28.5 aims in line with season to tie Gretzky’s document.

Is Eichel going to be the adaptation maker for Vegas?

Jack Eichel returned from neck surgical procedure Feb. 16 and the Vegas Golden Knights middle performed in the remaining 34 video games. He had 25 issues (14 aims, 11 assists), however Vegas went 15-14-5 and overlooked the playoffs for the primary time.

A large a part of the problem was once accidents to different key avid gamers, reminiscent of forwards Mark Stone (performed in 9 of remaining 34 video games) and Max Pacioretty (18 of remaining 34), and goalie Robin Lehner (10 of remaining 34).

Pacioretty was once traded to the Carolina Hurricanes throughout the offseason and Lehner isn’t anticipated to play this season as a result of a hip harm that required surgical procedure.

So even if the Golden Knights can have Eichel wholesome once they open the season opposed to the Kings, there are lots of questions that want solutions.

Eichel cannot be a kind of questions. He needs to be a solution for the Golden Knights if they will have a chance at getting again in the playoffs.

Can the Penguins make the playoffs for a seventeenth immediately season?

The Penguins have reached the playoffs every of the previous 16 seasons, giving them the longest lively playoff streak in any of the foremost males’s and girls’s North American skilled sports activities leagues.

The expectation is for the streak to succeed in 17 consecutive seasons after the Penguins agreed with ahead Evgeni Malkin on a four-year, $24.4 million contract ($6.1 million AAV) and signed defenseman Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6 million contract ($6.1 million AAV) in July.

Sidney Crosby has 3 seasons left at the 12-year, $104.4 million contract ($8.7 million AAV) the middle agreed to June 28, 2012.

By protecting Malkin and Letang, the Penguins consider they saved open a championship window that has already featured Stanley Cup parades in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

The Penguins’ streak of 16 immediately playoff appearances is tied for 9th in NHL historical past with the Flames (1976-91). The Capitals and Predators have the following longest lively playoff streaks in the NHL, every at 8 seasons.

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