After waiting months, the NHL returns tonight with four games including the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals beginning the road to defending their title. The Capitals gave lord Stanley’s Cup quite a world tour in the offseason including plenty of beer filled celebrations. Now that the NHL is back, there are plenty of reasons to be excited, even with the start of October baseball and the NFL season picking up.
It’s Gritty Time
The Philadelphia Flyers introduced their first mascot in over 40 years two weeks ago, who already takes the crown for best yet creepiest mascot at the same time. A similar figure to the Philly Phanatic, Gritty is orange for the Flyers with massive googly eyes. Although the fans have seen him already, he has not had the ability to perform during a regular season game.
Not only should Flyer fans be excited to see him in action, but all visiting hockey fans should be excited to interact with him throughout the season. It would not surprise me if Gritty has a few tricks up his sleeve for the opposing fans. Opposing players better keep a keen eye out for him, that is the last thing I’d want to run into pregame.
Gritty’s reputation will continue to spread around the NHL rapidly.
Stars on New Teams
Compared to the other professional sports, hockey is usually a sport where the stars stay with their teams. However, in the offseason there were two notable moves proved otherwise as Erik Karlsson was traded to the Sharks and John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs. Both players were cornerstones of their franchises, but the circumstances related to their departure were different.
In San Jose, Karlsson will pair up with Brent Burns, considered as one of the best attack-minded defenseman in the league. Karlsson and Burns will be must see TV for their dominance at the blue line as well as their magnificent beards and outstanding flow. Burns and Karlsson will quickly form one of the best pairings in the NHL.
New York Islander fans were devastated when captain John Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs in the offseason. Tavares will now pair up with Auston Matthews, one of the best young players in the league. Both players will be extremely fun to watch together, with outstanding dangles and snipes from all over the ice.
Potential for Surprise
Last season, there were several teams that made the playoffs, who entering the season were considered longshots. These teams were the Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils. With expectations for these teams raised for this season, that leaves a gap for a few other teams to surprise contending for a playoff spot.
Hockey is a sport where any team can win on any given night, making it tough to predict the playoff field before the season begins. Although the playoffs are a long way away, an 82-game season makes the margin of error is very small.
Some of these teams that could surprise include: the Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers. All three teams have a talented corps of young players, who will be cornerstones in the league for years to come.
The road to figuring out who the next prized holder of Lord Stanley’s Cup will be a fun journey to follow over the next nine months.