The NHL 2021-22 season kicks off Tuesday with a full 82-game schedule set to run till April 29.
This 12 months, 32 groups, with the addition of the Seattle Kraken, will battle it out with the hopes of hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup in what would be the first common season for the reason that pandemic struck midseason in March 2020.
The league is break up into two conferences — the Jap and Western conferences — and returns to its unique 4 divisions: the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific, with eight groups in every.
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Learn under for a breakdown of the Atlantic Division.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
The Lightning are arguably the fiercest competitor, not simply within the division, however in the complete Jap Convention. After changing into the ninth workforce in Cup historical past to win back-to-back championships, Tampa Bay exhibits no indicators of slowing down in its pursuit of a 3rd.
Regardless of wage cap points, the Lightning has been in a position to keep their core gamers, together with star forwards Pat Maroon, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, one of many league’s high objective scorers.
They are going to be with out enforcer Barclay Goodrow, who was traded to the New York Rangers in alternate for a 2022 seventh-round draft choose, however the return of Stamkos, who missed all however one recreation within the Stanley Cup Playoffs due to a lower-body damage, will certainly increase Tampa’s odds of a three-peat.
The Atlantic Division is break up down the center with 4 severe playoff contenders, certainly one of which incorporates the Bruins.
Final season, the Bruins completed third within the newly realigned East Division — a results of the pandemic — and swept the New Jersey Devils for a playoff spot. After eliminating the Washington Capitals within the first spherical, Boston’s dream of incomes its seventh cup ended with a second-round loss to the New York Islanders.
The Bruins’ strongest asset are their harmful high line. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak completed the season with 69 factors (29 targets, 40 assists), 48 factors (23 targets, 25 assists) and 48 factors (20 targets, 28 assists), respectively.
However the Bruins enter the brand new season with out high scorer David Krejci, who elected to depart the NHL after 15 seasons to proceed his profession within the Czech Republic. Boston can be coping with goaltending points as veteran goalie Tuukka Rask dangers lacking the beginning of the season whereas he continues his rehab following hip surgical procedure.
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The Canadiens suffered a heartbreaking loss within the Stanley Cup Finals towards the Lightning final season, however each groups return to the Atlantic Division for the last word showdown as they vie for first place.
The Habs completed fourth within the North Division final season with a 24-21-11 report. After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3, within the first spherical, Montreal swept the Winnipeg Jets for a spot within the semifinals. A 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights gave the Canadiens a spot within the Last with hopes of ending a 26-year-long drought, however the Lightning would win three video games straight earlier than taking all of it in 5 video games.
The Habs are dealing with two main losses this season that may complicate any likelihood of constructing the playoffs. It was introduced throughout the offseason that NHL All-Star Shea Weber wouldn’t return for the 2021-22 season — and probably ever — after quite a few accidents turned an excessive amount of for the star defenseman to proceed to play on.
In a stunning announcement, the Habs introduced Thursday that they might even be with out veteran goaltender Carey Value after he voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA participant help program.
The Panthers have crept into the highest ranks of the division after severe additions within the offseason and stand to pose a severe risk to Tampa Bay.
After ending second within the Central Division with a 37-14-5 report final season — atop the Lightning– the Panthers had been eradicated within the first spherical of the playoffs. However Florida is hoping to construct upon final season’s memento, re-signing defenseman Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling and forwards Sam Bennett and Anthony Duclair.
The additions of Sam Reinhart and veteran Joe Thornton can even increase Florida’s scoring possibilities. Final season, the Panthers had been tied for fourth within the league with 3.36 targets per recreation.
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TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Maple Leafs received their first division title final season after greater than 20 years, however their playoff frustrations continued with a first-round exit.
Toronto may face an identical end this season after some onerous hits to the roster. Joe Thornton, Nick Foligno and Riley Nash all moved on, whereas high producer Zach Hyman signed a monster $38.5 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
The stress will probably be on Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares — the workforce’s priciest members — to supply one other playoff berth.
The Senators completed sixth within the Scotia North Division final season, lacking the playoffs for the fifth 12 months in a row, however the younger squad’s rebuild could possibly be nearing its finish.
If negotiation talks with restricted free agent Brady Tkachuk are headed within the course the group says they’re, the 22-year-old star winger will be part of Josh Norris and Drake Batherson on a younger however harmful high line.
The Senators have additionally beefed up their protection with the addition of veteran defenseman Nick Holden and Michael Del Zotto.
DETROIT RED WINGS
The Crimson Wings haven’t made a playoff look since 2016, and the final time they received a playoff sequence was again in 2013. Regardless of having 11 Stanley Cup championships, the franchise has discovered itself in a drought over the previous few seasons.
Detroit’s greatest concern final 12 months was an absence of manufacturing. It ranked second to final in targets scored with simply 125. Throughout the offseason, it added ahead Pius Suter, who performed his first NHL recreation with the Chicago Blackhawks final season. It additionally signed veteran ahead Carter Rowney, who’s getting back from damage, and heart Mitchell Stephens, who was acquired in a commerce from the Lightning.
The Crimson Wings additionally acquired Calder Trophy finalist Alex Nedeljkovic from the Carolina Hurricanes and defenseman Nick Leddy, two vital additions for the struggling Crimson Wings.
The Sabres sit on the backside of the pack, and the state of affairs surrounding former captain Jack Eichel performs an enormous function in that prediction.
Final season the Sabres completed eighth within the East Division with a grim 15-34-7 report. Eichel missed half the season with a severe neck damage, however after a failed bodily earlier than the beginning of coaching camp and being at odds with the membership over his therapy, the workforce may stand to lose its greatest risk. Buying and selling Eichel would be the workforce’s finest transfer after dropping high scorer Sam Reinhart, who was traded to the Panthers after six seasons with the Sabres.
The goaltending state of affairs is just not a lot better after dropping Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton. Craig Anderson was signed within the offseason, however he performed in simply 4 video games final season with the Capitals.
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