2016-17 NHL Season Finally Begins
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By Brendan Jordan
Oh yeah, you read that title correctly. It’s that time of year again when National Hockey League regular season gets underway once again!
Although the offseason featured the World Cup of Hockey, an international ice hockey tournament that all fans were hyped about, what they were really looking forward to was their hometown team lacing up their skates and playing their home opener. For the first time in a decade, the NHL is having a season where no rule changes have been made from the prior season. That’s right, you can still see Columbus Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella, lose his mind on the referees and challenge goals left and right.
However, the lack of rule changes isn’t the biggest talk of the league. No, the biggest talk would be directed toward the regular season and playoff predictions for all the teams, and some of these come as a huge surprise.
NHL Network used the new EA Sports game, NHL 17 to make a small prediction. They ran a season simulation, and the result of it came as a shock to come hockey fans. The biggest surprise could possibly be the fact that the two teams in the Stanley Cup Finals were teams that have not even made it to the finals in years. The two teams were the Nashville Predators and the Montreal Canadiens, with Nashville taking the cup in a six game series victory.
The Predators and Canadiens were the two contributors of arguably the biggest off season trade, when the two teams swapped star defensemen Shea Weber (Nashville to Montreal) and PK Subban (Montreal to Nashville) with each other. Subban, being one of Montreal’s biggest and best players to wear the red a blue jersey was having off ice problems with some of the other Canadiens’ players, resulting in this blockbuster trade. Weber was previously the Predator’s team captain prior to the trade, so the Predators were left without a huge leader and contributor to the team’s success.
Another surprise came when the teams that were said to make the postseason came out. One big name was missing: The Detroit Red Wings. The Colorado Avalanche’s long-time rival has made the playoffs for the last 25 years, starting their playoff streak in the 1989-90 season. Since that time, they have won four Stanley Cups, including back-to-back championships in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Since their last Stanley Cup win in 2008, the team hasn’t looked too great in the playoffs, only making it to the conference finals once. I, for one, believe that the legendary playoff streak for the Red Wings will come to an end this season. But for a large majority of fans, their mindsets have been stuck on the Wings making the playoffs year after year.
However, the biggest Stanley Cup contender to date has to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a heartbreaking loss in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, the “Bolts” kept their form in tip-top shape, eventually battling their way to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, but losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins. The Lightning are looking shockingly good right now (no pun intended), as they have offensive powerhouses such as Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov on their front lines. And who’s backing them up on the blue line? How about 6-foot-6, 226 pound defensive tank, Victor Hedman, who put up a 47-point season last year? Sound good to me. Last but certainly not least, they’re backed by their giant of a goaltender, Ben Bishop, who racked up a league leading six shutouts last year. For Tampa fans, I’d be very excited to see what’s around the corner for the Bolts.
‘Tis the season for hockey fans to dust off their hockey sweaters, take a seat on the couch, and scream their head off at their television as their team scores a goal. Man, what a time of year it is. Hockey fans unite, our time has come once again.