When Does Pro Hockey Season Start? [Updated!]

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There is no question that the National Hockey League (NHL) has been in a state of flux since the start of October. For those of us who follow the game closely, it has been an incredible rollercoaster of a season. From the feel-good story of the year, Auston Matthews’s incredible ascent to the top of the NHL scoring charts, to the injury bug that has seemingly bitten the NHL, 2019 has been nothing short of incredible. It is therefore fitting that we look back on the most memorable moments of the season so far.

The Return Of The Predator

The return of the Predator is one of the most exciting stories of the season so far (and it is only the first month of the season!). On the surface, it’s a simple story. On October 1st, the Nashville Predators acquired the NHL’s most lethal predator in Predator Number 18. Ever since, the Predators have not looked back as they have mounted an incredible comeback in the Central Division, battling the top teams in the NHL, including the historically great Chicago Blackhawks, and the resurgent St. Louis Blues. Through the efforts of GM Jonathan Bernier, the Predators have become the picture of organizational health. In fact, Bernier is widely considered one of the best general managers in the entire NHL, and Nashville is now one of the deepest and most talented teams, both in terms of player personnel and coaching staff, in the entire league.

Auston Matthews And Patrik Laine Shine Brightly

Even before the season started, fans knew that Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine would be among the NHL’s top scorers this year. After all, both players set the stage ablaze in the Nashville Predators’ first game of the season, a 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild – Matthews scored a hat trick, while Laine chipped in with a goal and two assists. Since then, Matthews and Laine have not looked back, combining for 22 goals and 31 assists in 30 games so far. It is a combination of talent and a seamless connection that makes these two players so deadly.

One of the best stories of the year so far has been Toronto’s William Nylander. The Maple Leafs acquired the talented Swedish center in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks during the summer. Since coming to Toronto, Nylander has taken the league by storm, contributing 12 goals and 17 assists in 30 games. Overall, Nylander has seven goals and 17 assists in 13 games since the start of October, including four game-winning goals!

The Injury Bug Bites The NHL

What a difference a few weeks make in professional sports. Once the season started, the injury bug bit hard, especially for the NHL, whose injury list this year is absolutely stacked. The last year of the Alex Ovechkin era in Washington ended in disaster, with the great Russian star breaking his leg and suffering three more injuries along the way. However, even before the season started, Ovechkin was sidelined for the entire 2018-19 season with his chronic knee problems. Even after the season started, he missed several games due to a groin injury suffered during warm-ups. The injury bug has seemingly bitten the NHL, and it has not been able to shake it off, either, as many of this year’s biggest stars, including Matthews, Laine, and Nylander, have all missed games due to injury.

The New York Islanders’ Jack Capuano has been a living dead man walking for years, missing just five games throughout his entire career, so the veteran defenseman is actually in pretty good shape, health-wise. But, in an unbelievable twist of fate, the 63-year-old Capuano suffered a gruesome leg injury last week. The leg injury – which will sideline Capuano for the rest of the season – was a result of a skate accident that occurred in Buffalo. What a brutal end to a season that was already on the decline, as the injury-plagued Capuano, who missed 28 games in 2018-19, was set to retire this summer.

Speaking of injuries, there has also been major turmoil in Calgary, where head coach Mike Smith, along with captain Michael Joyal and rising star Jaden Schwartz, were all injured during the Flames’ first game of the season, a 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Schwartz, in particular, suffered a fractured skull, which will sideline him for the rest of the season. This is obviously a major blow to the Flames, and their playoff hopes are now completely dashed, as they are currently in last place in the division, having scored only 12 goals, second-fewest in the entire NHL, and have only won four games! Smith, the Flames’ head coach and general manager, is likely to be fired this week, while Joyal and Schwartz will be out of action for the rest of the year. This is an incredibly depressing story, as the Flames had one of the best young cores, led by second-year center Ryan Reidell and 2019 first-round pick Rasmus Andersson, and were on the cusp of something great!

A Comeback Kid

It takes a certain type of person to be a professional hockey player. You have to be willing to put your body on the line night after night, game after game, as you pursue excellence on the ice. There is certainly no question that the Nashville Predators’ depth chart is filled to the brim with talented and exciting athletes, but it takes a special person to be a professional hockey player. For years, we have all wondered if David Poile, the great general manager of the Predators, would ever find the true diamond in the rough that he is looking for.

The answer is a resounding yes! On October 1st, the Predators found that special person in 20-year-old Filip Forsberg. In his rookie season, the Swedish forward has lived up to the extreme hype, scoring 29 goals in 31 games, including six game-winning goals, and adding 12 assists. He was also named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October, and was later named the player who had the best rookie season, thanks to his 29 goals and 12 assists.

It is fair to say that Forsberg has been a revelation this year, and it is extremely unlikely that the Nashville Predators will dip back into the draft once they sign the talented forward to a sizable extension. With Forsberg, they have found the player that they have been searching for all along. It is incredible to think that only one month into the season, and the Nashville Predators are already looking at contract talks with the player that could end up being their biggest acquisition to-date!

An Astonishing Rise To The Top Of The Scoring Charts

It is well-established that Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are two of the best young players in the entire NHL, and it is not really a question. On October 4th, after Matthews scored two goals, including one breakaway, in a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins, both he and Laine climbed up the NHL scoring charts, with Matthews taking over the number one spot, while Laine held on to the number two spot, thanks to a late-night surge, as the abovementioned injury bug bit the NHL, especially hard in the Eastern Conference.

As of today, Matthews leads the NHL in goals with 12 and has also racked up eight assists, while Laine has 11 goals and seven assists, in 29 games. It is pretty safe to say that these two youngsters are going to have a major impact on the game for years to come. What a difference a month makes in professional sports!

All Time Greats

There are obviously a ton of great highlights from this year’s NHL season, and it is pretty difficult to pick just a few to include here. The Nashville Predators are certainly one of the best young teams in the NHL along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it is not really a question. It is always great to see an organization, led by such great executives as Poile and Lou Lamoriello, build quality teams from the ground up. A lot of credit also goes to head coach Peter DeBoer, who led the Lake Superior Ice Spa to Back-to-Back-to-Back championships in 2016, 2017, and 2018. He has since taken that success to the NHL level as well, leading the St. Louis Blues to the playoffs for the second year in a row. He is without question one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NHL and one of the main reasons the Blues are back!

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