With the preseason wrapping up on Sunday, teams will now prepare for their season opener as the 2017-18 NHL season officially kicks off on Wednesday, October 4th with four games on the schedule.
In the USA
Home Opener: Pittsburgh Penguins
The reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins will host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday at 8 pm and fans should be ready to celebrate the Pens’ 2017 Cup victory. Since the team closed out their six-game Final series in Nashville, this will be the first time Penguins fans will be able to salute Sidney Crosby and the 2017 Cup in PPG Paints Arena and have their team return to the ice as back-to-back champs.
Home Opener: San Jose Sharks
Also opening their season at home are the San Jose Sharks. They will host the Philadelphia Flyers at SAP Centre at 7:30 PT. There isn’t much to say about the 2017-18 Sharks, other than they are a year older. The roster that lost their first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers in six games in 2017 remains relatively intact, with the obvious exception of Patrick Marleau who is now a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The good news, however, is that the roster also hasn’t changed much since their run to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, so other than the age issue, the team has enough chemistry and experience for regular season success despite being in the increasingly tough Pacific Division.
Western Canada will host the only Canadian action on opening day with the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers playing their first game of the 2017-18 regular season.
Home Opener: Winnipeg Jets
There is so much to be excited about this matchup, between two of the most dynamic young teams in the league as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Place at 6 pm. There will be a boatload of talent on the ice including Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, Austen Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. Needless to say, expect a high scoring affair as the Jets try to claim their place as one of the best offensive teams in the Western Conference this season. Neither team can boast game-saving goaltending which could prove problematic throughout the season but a barn-burning opener would be fun.
Featured Home Opener: Edmonton Oilers
Canadian teams are going to be where it’s at this season. In the first installment of the Battle of Alberta, the Edmonton Oilers host the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place at 8 pm.
Despite two playoff appearances in the last three seasons, the Flames are generally overlooked and that’s due to their goaltending deficiencies over the last few years. This offseason the team acquired Mike Smith and Eddie Lack to give their over-worked defense a break and added Travis Hamonic for some insurance.
Meanwhile, the Oilers are a budding dynasty and Connor McDavid, the league’s reigning Hart Trophy winner, alone is worth the price of admission. But he has a cast of supporting characters worth cheering for including Leon Draisiatl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Jordon Eberle is gone but newcomer Ryan Strome should be fun to watch. All eyes will be on the Oilers this season as McDavid tries to top his 100-point campaign from 2016-17 and take the team past the third round of the playoffs.