Hockey, we all missed you, but we’re finally back together! While a lot has transpired during the NHL offseason with a bunch of new faces in different places, a new expansion team brought to Las Vegas, and the dismissal of NHL players participating in the Winter Olympics, one thing still holds true. Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are once again coming into the season with hopes of winning a THIRD straight Stanley Cup Trophy. It may seem as if it is the Penguins Cup to lose, but the firepower throughout the league is getting stronger and the young stars are shining brighter than ever. With the puck about to drop on the 2017-18 season, check out the most important storylines heading into this NHL season, which is bound to be a doozy!
No other way to lead into the 2017-18 NHL Season than talking about anything but the Pittsburgh Penguins quest to the elusive Back to Back to Back Stanley Cups, which would all but cement their legacy as one of the best dynasties in not only hockey history, but rather sports history in general. Led by the reigning Stanley Cup MVP, Sidney Crosby, the Penguins have an uphill battle just to get to another Stanley Cup appearance. Losing their three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury, along with three forwards (Kunitz, Bonino, and Cullen), as well as three proven defensemen (Daley, Hainsey, and Streit) the lineup may look a little different than in championship years past. However, as long as you have Crosby at the helm, alongside Malkin and Kessel, with rising star Matt Murray in goal, the Penguins have every opportunity to go on a playoff run once again.
Sin City, meet Golden Knights. Golden Knights, meet Sin City. The Las Vegas Golden Knights are the newest NHL expansion franchise, and the city of Las Vegas, and its fans, could not be happier. While the product on the ice may not be up to par with the rest of the NHL, the excitement of having a new team in the entertainment capital of the world has the city buzzing.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) September 27, 2017
It seems as though the opportunities are endless in Las Vegas for the home fans, and now gives fans even more of a reason to make a trip out to see a game. The opportunities really are endless, especially when a perk of purchasing season tickets is having your named etched into the ice.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 25, 2017
Sid isn’t the Kid Anymore
There is no denying that Sidney Crosby is one of, if not the best player in the NHL today. However, there is a real kid, 20 year old, reigning Hart Trophy award winner, Connor McDavid, who could very well surpass Crosby as the best player in the NHL. After signing an astounding 8 year, $100 Million extension this offseason, not only is McDavid changing the landscape of hockey contracts, but just catapulting his name into the conversation for best player in the NHL. One of the allures of Crosby was his jaw dropping plays, but luckily McDavid is no slouch in the highlight department either, with just last night showing off his stick and scoring skills in a preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Connor McDavid is in midseason form. Flips the puck in the air and then swings it into the net. pic.twitter.com/JAi4QT8ID0
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 28, 2017
The biggest question mark surrounding McDavid will be if he can live up to the championship pedigree Crosby has built in Pittsburgh, which I don’t see him giving up too easily.
Miracle on Ice 2018?
Miracle on Ice 2.0 may be a stretch, but with NHL Commissioner not budging on NHL players participating in the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, it will be up to players from international leagues and college players to win a Gold Medal for the US this year. Between scheduling conflicts, potential for season ending injuries, and the cost of sending players to the Olympics the decision to not allow players to attend isn’t out of left field, but that didn’t stop some of the NHL stars from voicing their displeasures.
Disappointing news, @NHL won’t be part of the Olympics 2018. A huge opportunity to market the game at the biggest stage is wasted..
— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) April 3, 2017
Does Jonathan Toews buy the NHL’s argument that there’s no tangible benefit to going to the Olympics? “No. Not at all.”
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 4, 2017
While we may not be in the middle of the Cold War, with an underdog story quite like the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, it will be interesting to see how fans react to the Olympic Games this year with the stars of the game not participating.
Is THIS the Caps Year?
The Presidents Trophy winners from the previous two regular seasons, the Washington Capitals have had every chance to make a Stanley Cup run, but have fallen short in two playoff series’ to the eventual champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. With superstar Alex Ovechkin still one of the top scorers in the league, paired with the likes of Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, the Capitals have no problem scoring the puck. Combine the scoring ability of these stars with the shot stopping ability of Braden Holtby, the Capitals certainly have the talent to compete for a Stanley Cup. While the talent is there, we have yet to see the Capitals play up to their abilities when it matters most. Is this the year Ovechkin and the Capitals get over the hump and win that all important first Stanley Cup Trophy?