NHL preview

The NHL is back with new rules, new players and brand new divisions. After the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted the Stanley Cup, we saw speculation on when the league would start or even if it would even happen. But here we are; Hockey fans rejoiced to see their favorite teams join new divisions and watch their favorite players score. Looking towards this season there are going to be surprises, fun teams and in the end, a champion.

The biggest change to the league this year was the new divisions. They threw away the conference style of divisions and realigned the four divisions into four regions The West division is made up of teams west of Dallas, Texas. This division looks like the most boring division with teams like Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights being the four teams in that division that are competitive enough to make the playoffs. 

The East Division is made up of teams east of Tennessee, excluding Florida. This Division looks to be more fun with teams like the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins all fighting for a top spot. Also do not count out the New York Rangers to make a run at a playoff using their young legs and solid goaltending to push them to spot over one of those major contenders. 

The Central Division is packed with teams from the Midwest and both Florida teams. The teams to watch atop of this division are the reigning champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Dallas Stars and the Hurricanes. This division isn’t much either with it being Tampa’s division to lose. Although the Canes could give them a run for their money with great goaltending from breakout goalie Petr Mrazek and star forward Andrei Svechnikov. 

The last division may be the most intriguing in the whole league and that being the North division made up of all the Canadian teams in the league. This whole division has a chance at the playoffs, excluding the Senators. Every single team has some sort of X factor that can push them deeper into the race. If it’s the Oilers with their dynamic duo of Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl or the Maple Leafs with their depth of forwards starting Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. This division was needed for the NHL for more Canadians to feel more immersed in games and have the real rivalries begin. 

In addition, the NHL changed the rules of offside this year. The old rule used to be if one skate is over the blue line and one is behind it is an onside play, where now if any body part crosses the blue line it’s called offsides. This is a small, but significant rule change. In real-time, this means not as much because it’s very hard to know what is onside and what is off if it’s not blatant. On the replay, however, it’s a huge call. A lot more goals could be called off because someone’s skate crossed the blue line. 

The NHL season this year looks to have a safe and fun season for the fans and the players. Without the NHL, people would have nothing to watch once football season is over but basketball, so the diversity of sports and games going on will be fun to watch carefully. Hockey fans can look forward to an even better season than last year and spectacular Stanley Cup Playoffs.