Warrior Weekly: Biggest Takeaways from NHL Opening Week

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Warrior Weekly: Biggest Takeaways from NHL Opening Week

WSPN’s Aiden Chitkara analyzes the first games in the NHL season.

WSPN’s Aiden Chitkara analyzes the first games in the NHL season.

WSPN’s Aiden Chitkara analyzes the first games in the NHL season.

WSPN’s Aiden Chitkara analyzes the first games in the NHL season.

Aiden Chitkara

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October 2 marked the opening day of the 2019-2020 National Hockey League(NHL) season. Eight teams took the ice to play and to watch the St. Louis’ Stanley Cup banner reveal. The rest of the league took to the ice over the following days, marking the debuts of Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski, Sergei Bobrovsky and Jack Huges. 

 

Loaded Atlantic Division

There is no question that the Atlantic Division is the most loaded division in the league. According to ESPN, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins are the top three teams in the NHL, and all of them are in the Atlantic division. With the current NHL playoff format, two of these teams will play each other in the first round while the other will face the winner in the next round. 

For you basketball fans, the Atlantic division is just like the NBA Western Conference: it’s ridiculously lopsided. As of Sunday October 6, the trio of teams have a combined record of 5-1-1 and are all off to hot starts. 

The Leafs elected Toronto native John Taveres to be captain this offseason, and as he is a hometown guy, this makes a lot of sense to me. Taveres has experience as an NHL captain before, he held that honor with the New York Islanders for many years. 

The Bruins are off to a good start as well which has been led by their defensive play and strong goaltending. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak both looked excellent in their first starts and I expect them both to have excellent seasons. The only red flag so far is that the Bruins have scored only three goals over their first two games. The scoring will improve as they have one of the most dynamic lines in the league.

Down south, the Tampa Bay Lightning are off to the worst start of the three, but still have the best eighteen man roster in the league. This includes one of the best goalies, Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lighting will figure it out, and they will be scary going forward after last year’s playoff catastrophe. 

 

Tank for Alexis

Canadien born Alexis Lafreniere is LEGIT. Lafreniere is the No. 1 2020 draft prospect according to NHL.com, TheHockeyNews.com, HockeyProspect.com and basically anyone who knows anything about hockey. Lafreniere has all the tools to be the league’s newest superstar. The seventeen year old is “An incredible playmaker with great vision and accurate shot. He was named the QMJHL’s most valuable player last season,” according to NHL.com. 

Lafreniere has many of the same traits as Conner McDavid. He possesses speed, soft hands and a nose for the goal. Franchises will be frantically working their lines to try to gain the best odds for this years upcoming draft lottery. Check this play out from Lafreniere. Unbelievable. 

https://twitter.com/HockeyWebCast/status/1179094960987082754

 

Players to Watch

Jack Huges: Who else would start off this list? Only seventeen years old, Hughes was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft. Hughes is the first American born player to be drafted first overall since Patrick Kane in the 2007 draft. Hughes is the perfect player in the modern day NHL. He is one of the fastest players on the ice with silky hands and makes smart plays on the fly. Hughes could be the face of the league for the next generation.

Mika Zabanijad: The Swedish born was named NHL player of the week in part of his impressive statistical start. Only 26, he signed a five year 26 million dollar extension this past offseason and has certainly looked like he is worth the pay. Zabanijad has tallied four points in each of his first two games, and has played the best hockey of his young career. Keep an eye out on Zibanejad throughout the rest of the season.  

Joe Pavelski + Corey Perry: These two veterans, who have spent their entire careers with the same organizations, have decided to link up in Dallas. Wow. These two playing alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn will be a treat for all hockey fans. Dallas has always been in the playoff mix but will these two additions be enough for the Stars to be true title contenders? I think it might. 

Kevin Shattenkirk: After a rocky season with the Rangers last year, Shattenkirk signed a “prove it” deal with Tampa this offseason. The former Boston University Terrier has looked phenomenal, scoring two goals which already matches his total from last year. Shattenkirk has always been an offensive defenseman and I expect him to sustain these numbers under the current Tampa Bay system.  

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