With NHL season starting this week. There are some questions. Will the St. Louis Blues repeat as NHL Champions? Has the Tampa Bay Lighting recovered from being ousted in the first round? Are the Vegas Golden Knight back from their hangover? Who will be this year’s Cinderella team in the NHL?
Will the NHL be singing the Blues again?
The St. Louis Blues coming off their Stanley Cup season. Last season obviously was a great year for the Blues, showing great goaltending down the stretch from call-up Jordan Binnington. If St. Louis is going to repeat as Champions it has to start with him. Last year the Blues were led offensively by newly acquired Ryan O’Reilly in 82 games for them he scored 28 goals and added 49 assists for 77 points and he was the backbone for them in the Stanley Cup Finals. Secondly there is Vladimir Taransenko who was steady all year long leading the team in goals scored last season with 33. Lastly there is Vince Dunn a very swift puck handling defenseman to lead the power play once again. The Blues biggest move this off-season was trading for Justin Faulk another puck moving defenseman.
Will Lightning Strike?
Next let’s look at the Tampa Bay Lighting. They are looking for revenge this year. The Columbus Blue Jackets knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa once again will be led by Steven Stamkos who does it all for this team. He almost topped the 100 point mark last year, which would have been the first time he has done that. Nikta Kucherov led the team in assists with 87 and points with 128. He also led the league with those 128 points. He is a nice compliment to Stamkos. Andrei Vasilevskiy will once again be the number one goalie for this team. He led the league in wins the last two seasons with 39 & 44. Biggest move for Tampa Bay besides resigning Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point would be the singing of D Kevin Shattenkirk.
Striking gold in Vegas?
Lastly, taking a look at the Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas burst onto the NHL scene in 2017-18 as an expansion team. Their team was pretty much castoffs from other teams. This expansion team was the Western Conference winners in their first season. Last year they didn’t experience the same success. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was once again very good in net getting 35 victories, while sporting a 2.51 GAA. He will be relied on again this year if the Golden Knights are going anywhere. With the acquisition of Paul Stastny last year many thought that he would put them over the top. But it was injuries that kept Stastny out of the line up for 32 games last year. Vegas has kept the same team this off-season hoping a healthy Stastny and Reilly Smith with get them back to the cup.
Can Cinderella find her slipper?
Who are some of the teams you think will be a Cinderella story this year? Will Toronto finally break that curse and have a successful playoff run? Can the New York Islanders keep going forward after a great season last year? Are the Edmonton Oilers going to be a force this year? For all this and more I guess we’ll just have to tune in and find out. My sleeper team this year will be the Arizona Coyotes watch for them to make the playoffs.