The opening night of the 2016-17 regular season is (finally) upon us and the NBC Sports Group has you covered with a pair of great matchups. The St. Louis Blues travel to Chicago to take on the ‘Hawks at 8:00 p.m. ET and the Kings battle the Sharks in San Jose at 10:30 p.m. ET. To watch the early game online, click here and to watch the late game, click here.
The Blackhawks will get an opportunity to (sort of) avenge last year’s opening round loss to the Blues.
Most of the team’s core is back, but there were a few additions and subtractions during the summer.
For salary cap reasons, Chicago was forced to trade Andrew Shaw to Montreal, but they managed to add Jordin Tootoo as a cost-efficient agitator. They’ll also be using a few young forwards, as Nick Schamltz, Tyler Motte and Ryan Hartman are all on the team.
On defense, they came away with one of the best bang for your buck off-season signings with Brian Campbell re-joining the team. The veteran rounds out a top four with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
The Blues finally made a bit of run last postseason, but they lost a few key pieces over the summer. Gone are David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott. Replacing those three on the roster are David Perron, Nail Yakupov and Carter Hutton.
Management has already acknowledged that they may take a step back, while young leaders step into more prominent roles.
With Elliott gone, the crease now fully belongs to Jake Allen. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles that challenge. Since turning pro, the 26-year-old has played more than 50 games just once in his NHL/AHL career. If things go wrong for him at some point this season, will Hutton be able to carry the load?
In the late game…
Another first round playoff rematch with Los Angeles and San Jose doing battle at the Shark Tank.
Like the Blues, the Sharks were finally able to make a long playoff run in 2016. Unfortunately for them, they came up two wins short in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Most of San Jose’s core group are over 30 and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle a short off-season. Although we won’t know for sure after tonight’s game, a potential hangover is something to keep an eye on.
After their opening round loss to the Sharks, the Kings didn’t make many changes to their roster. Los Angeles signed a new backup goalie in Jeff Zatkoff, they added Tom Gilbert to their blue line and agreed to terms with Devin Setoguchi.
Under new captain Anze Kopitar, the Kings will look to get back to their winning ways. Like last year, expect them to be in a tight battle with their Pacific Division rivals Anaheim and San Jose.
The Kings will already be shorthanded going into tonight’s game, as forward Marian Gaborik is dealing with a broken he suffered at the World Cup.
Based on the lines in their last preseason game, Setoguchi may get an opportunity to skate with Kopitar and Dustin Brown.