NHL Season Preview and Predictions

October is one of the most exciting times because it means the NHL season is back. The 2016-2017 postseason was full of surprises. The eighth-seeded Nashville Predators cruised through the playoffs and played the heavy favorite Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals, but the Penguins prevailed in six games despite the goaltending of Nashville’s Pekka Rinne, who many believed should have won the Conn Smythe Award as playoff MVP.

What does this season have in store for us?

nhl

This NHL season is already off to a fast start, and we have had many early surprises. The biggest may be the hot start of the new expansion team in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights currently are second in the Pacific Division with a record of 9-4. Also the electrifying start of Alexander Ovechkin shocked very few, but putting up nine goals in his first five games definitely turned some heads.

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs also stood out. After going 1st overall in the 2016 NHL draft, the 19-year-old has faced the most pressure out of almost anyone in the league. However, he has lived up to those expectations being the Leafs’ savior and leading them back to the playoffs last season.

Will Butcher has emerged for the New Jersey Devils. The young defenseman produced nine points in his first six games as a rookie. The 2017 number one overall pick Nico Heishmer has helped Butcher recreate the Devils identity and move them to second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Besides the surprising Vegas Golden Knights team, there have been hot starts from other teams across the league; one of them is the Los Angeles Kings. They have the fewest losses in the League, and Jonathan Quick looks like his old self after missing almost the entire season last year with an injury.

Although there have been many hot starts, there have also been many teams that have yet to live up to the expectations they set for themselves during offseason The Arizona Coyotes were one of the busiest teams this offseason, acquiring established players such as Derek Stepan and three-time Stanley Cup champion Niklas Hjalmarsson. However these acquisitions have accounted for nothing so far, as they remain in last place with only 5 points, the fewest in the League.

Here at Northwood almost everyone is an athlete, and we have about 65 hockey players. So whether you’re rooting for your favorite or making your early predictions for Stanley Cup winners almost everybody wants to speak their mind about the NHL. Sutton Allard ‘19 said “The Predators are going to end up bouncing back from their heartbreaking loss against the Penguins last year, and they’re going to end up winning the Cup this year. Remember I said it.”

Alexander Ray 19’ had different thoughts. “I think the Toronto Maple leafs have too many good players in Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander,” he said. “I believe they will end up raising Lord Stanley.”

My prediction is that the Pittsburgh Penguins will end up winning their 3rd Stanley Cup in a row, becoming the first team to win three straight since the Islanders dynasty of the 1980s. They will beat a tough Chicago Blackhawks team in a 7 game series.

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