The leaves are reddening, the days are getting cooler but you know what… that also means the NHL is back.
It’s going to be another action-packed season complete with thrilling power-plays, last minute goals and maybe even some shocks just waiting to unfold on the ice.
So many questions?
Who will be the shining light of the season? Will Nathan MacKinnon break his points record? Can Chicago Blackhawks get their heads in the game? Will Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman of Boston Bruins win the William M. Jennings Trophy?
Then there’s who’ll win? Will Colorado Avalanche carry last year’s win into this season? Will Carolina Hurricanes take it? Will we see a resurgent Tampa Bay Lightning? Or are we looking in the wrong place and a team is going to come from leftfield and swipe the contest from under their skates?
What we do know is, is that this fine Friday sees the Game 1 showdown between the Nashville Predators vs San Jose Sharks.
Can they make it beyond the final 8 this time? Predators had a difficult 2021/22 season, with a mix of defeats to the likes of Tampa Bay Lightning (6 – 2), Minnesota Wild (5 – 2 AOT) and Calgary Flames (4 – 5 AOT). In fact, prior to the final 8, they even played the season winners Colorado Avalanche and won with penalty (4 – 5).
When they reached the final 8, they faced Avalanche once again and were knocked out: (Game 1: 7 – 2 / Game 2: 2 – 1 AOT / Game 3: 3 – 7 / Game 4: 3 – 5).
Who to watch?
Jeannot has scored the most goals for Predators during the Pre-Season and is projected to deliver almost a quarter of the team’s goals in the new season, just slightly more than 2021. His shot on goal percentage sits below 50% but perhaps with more time on the ice, he can deliver more.
At this current stage, he’s spent around 16 minutes per Pre-Season game.
Sissons will also be formidable force in centre. In the Pre-Season, Sissons played 2 games, scored in both. He’s projected to be a consistent scorer in the new season as long as he can line up his shots on goal. His SOG percentage has been notched up a 0.01 percentile.
Duchene has been the helping hand during the Pre-Season. He’s scored 2 goals and got 5 assists with his average of roughly 15 minutes of playing time. His Shots of Goal percentage is projected to be the highest it’s even been since his career started in 2009, 20.3%.
San Jose Sharks
Will Sharks have a better season? While they chalked up wins against Chicago Blackhawks (4 – 1), Columbus Blue Jackets (3 – 2) and an AOT win against Vegas Golden Knights (4 – 5), they also faced a string of 6 losses.
They were eventually knocked out after losing 3 – 0 to Seattle Kraken.
Who to watch?
Gushchin has had a very productive Pre-Season with the Sharks. He’s the highest scoring of the team and among the players with the longest amount of time on the ice (almost 17 minutes). Pundits are saying that he’ll really grow but he still has to find his feet in the NHL.
While his defensive game is still quite lacking, his offensive efforts have been stellar. Has he won his place in the team?
Bordeleau has had a conservative Pre-Season with 1 goal and 1 assist. While pundits argue that he has the skills to develop into a strong Power Play, his defensive skills need to be built up. In the 2021/22 season, Bordeleau got 5 assists and shot for goal 13 times.
Eklund has developed a reputation for knowing his way around the puck, able to make space and deliver the biscuit with exceptional passes to his teammates. His spin is also something of beauty.
What we’re doing?
We’re going to be covering more and more of the NHL as it happens so we do hope you’ll join us to see how the season progresses.