What’S The Score In Hockey? [Updated!]

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Hockey is back. Well, not quite, but it is close to being so. The 2019 National Hockey League season started on Wednesday, and there were plenty of storylines heading into the new campaign.

The most prominent one saw the Boston Bruins try to defend their championship. Another interesting development was the Montreal Canadiens trying to avoid being out of the elite eight for the third straight year. Another team that will be interesting to follow this year is the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a lot of young talent, and fans can’t wait to see how it all develops.

One of the most intriguing question marks going into the season was the Los Angeles Kings’ quest for their first Stanley Cup since 2012. They have a strong team, but many questions surrounding them, including who will be the starting goalie for the Kings.

There are several other storylines that will interest hockey fans, and here’s a short list to whet your appetite:

The Most Iconic Player In NHL History Hopes To Retire

The Hockey Hall of Fame honours the great players who have given their careers in the NHL and are considered among its greatest. One of the legends who will be celebrating his 100th birthday this year is Bobby Orr. He started out his career with the Boston Bruins in 1954 and went on to have an illustrious career, winning six Norris Trophies, the Hart Trophy in 1968, and the Art Ross Trophy in 1969. Even at the age of 100, Orr continues to play an active role in the community. He continues to attend charity events, and this year he became a grandfather for the first time.

Bobby Orr will be one of the top four or five players in NHL history when he retires. As a centenarian, he will have spent almost 70 years in the NHL and will have played more than 1,400 games. Only Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard have more career points than Orr. And even though he is now in his ninth season with the Bruins, he still has a lot of games left in him. The 2019-20 Bruins season will be his last. He will be honoured before the game on Friday, October 18th and he will be going on a reunion tour around the league afterwards. The last NHL game he will play in is on April 4th, 2020, and he will spend the rest of his time enjoying life and spending with his family.

However, Orr’s career may not be over yet. According to a report from ESPN’s Scott McLaughlin, the Boston native might play a few more seasons in a “retirement” league. He said that while there aren’t any current plans to play another season in the NHL, it wouldn’t be a surprise if it happened, given how well he has aged. It would be a dream come true for Orr to play one more season for the Bruins, but only if he is medically cleared and can pass a physical. The Bruins are aware of his situation and are supportive of his decision. They respect what he has accomplished and know that he deserves to enjoy life the way he wants to.

Can Nashville Stand Up To San Jose In The Western Conference?

The Nashville Predators have been one of the NHL’s best stories in the past few years. They finished with the best record in the NHL in 2018-19, and they made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their history. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that was supposed to be down and out after losing quarterback Ryan Johansen to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. They managed to replace him with a 23-year-old rookie in Ryan McDonagh, and their success has caught the attention of the entire league.

Nashville will be a dangerous team to face in the playoffs. The Preds scored the third-most goals in the regular season last year, and they have a large group of young stars who can grow and develop together. Their average age is 25.7 years, and they have two 30-year-olds — Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog — in their top six. They have high-end talent across the board, with average players’ salaries of $5.46 million.

The biggest issue for the Predators is the loss of Johansen. They are a completely different team without him, and it will be interesting to see how they fare without the 27-year-old superstar. The good news for Nashville fans is that they have a lot of promising young talent, and even though they will miss Johansen, they will be just as dangerous as before.

Will Philadelphia Finally See The King In His Court?

After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013, the Philadelphia Flyers finally got back to the postseason in 2019. It wasn’t easy. The Flyers had to endure a lot of speculation about their head coach, Dave Hakstol, with many fans and pundits questioning whether he would be the team’s next head coach. It was rumoured that Hakstol might be on the move as early as this past summer. The team’s GM, Chuck Fletcher, did his best to assure fans that Hakstol was safe and sound. Fletcher also said that the team was focused on making the playoffs as quickly as possible, and that meant they had to make some tough decisions.

The biggest decision the Flyers had to make was who would be the starting goaltender going into the 2019-20 season. The team let starter Brian Elliott go, and they signed Michal Neuvirth from the Buffalo Sabres to a five-year contract. Neuvirth has proven to be a very serviceable backup, so it wasn’t a total loss for the Flyers.

Which Young Stars Will Make A Name For Themselves In The NHL?

The St. Louis Blues made a big splash when they acquired goaltender Jordan Binnington — the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft — from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Kevin Shattenkirk and Jason Garrison. Binnington, 20, has the talent to be a starter in the NHL and could be the future for the Blues.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made a similar trade, giving up their first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft (No. 17) and a 2021 conditional pick (No. 2) to move up and select defenceman Henry Källberg with the 11th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Källberg, 19, was the captain of his Swedish hockey team, and he will join a Blue Jackets team that made its name by being tough to play against. The former Notre Dame Fighting Irish defender had 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 38 games in the NCAA this past season.

The New York Rangers saw their future in net when they drafted Hudson Fasching with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old phenom made 55 saves in his NHL debut, a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on September 27th, and he was just the second goaltender in NHL history — after Henrik Lundquist — to score a goal in his first game.

The Florida Panthers made another big splash by signing Jack Eichel to a nine-year, $81 million contract extension. The 22-year-old centre led the NCAA in goals (37) and points (77) last season and will be looking to build on that in the coming years.

Can Vegas Breakout Candidates Simmer Down?

The Vegas Golden Knights turned a lot of heads when they made the 2019 NHL Playoffs. They were the lowest-seeded team to make the postseason, and they surprised many by defeating higher-seeded opponents in the first round. The Vegas Golden Knights weren’t a team that anyone saw coming, and that includes the people responsible for putting them together. The club has done an excellent job of unearthing undrafted free agents who became key contributors last season, even after their playoff berth was secured. They made their head coach, Gerard Gallant, and GM, George McPhee, available for interviews after the season to discuss their surprising run.

The biggest storyline heading into the 2019-20 NHL season centres around the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is the second straight year that they had a top-ten rated offense and did not make the playoffs. They need to decide what they want out of this season. Do they want to keep the status quo and let their stars, such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, develop more chemistry with new linemates? They have a lot of talent, but they are also very aware that they are one of the league’s most popular teams and have a lot of fans who demand excellence. If they want to keep the top spot in the league, they will have to work hard this coming season.

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