The action is back in the NHL and there is a kind of frenzy like at the beginning of the season. Epic games are gearing up for this long-awaited return to the game.
First, we'll get the battle of Pennsylvania between the Penguins and the Flyers! In a different context from recent years, the Flyers are not in the underdogs seat. Having finished the regular season in 4th place, this match-up will have more of a preseason game for them than for Pittsburgh. The Pens will return to action more quickly than them in their qualifying round against the Canadians. So what can we expect from this match? On the goaltending side, I can't wait to see Carter Hart's posture for the Flyers and the Penguins battle between Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. Will we see all the veterans star of both teams in action? Most likely so, but maybe not as much as in a regular game. They must avoid the injury risk!
The second match-up will be between the Canadiens and the Leafs. This duel will certainly look like a playoff game since both teams have things to prove in addition to being all-time rivals. On the Leafs side, the Marner, Matthews, Nylander, etc. will want to show that they are ready for the playoffs. Expectations are high in Toronto and they will have to prove to the hockey world that they are not only excellent on paper, but on the ice as well. I expect a hot start from them. On the Canadian side, they have nothing to lose and will want to proove that they deserve their playoff spot. All eyes will be turned on Carey Price because for a lot of people, Montreal's success in the playoffs depends on him. It is to be expected that Julien will try experiments with his trios. He will certainly want to find the right combination for his defensive trio who will face the big guns of Pittsburgh in the qualifying round and who better than the first trio of the Leafs to test it all!
We'll end the hockey day with the Battle of Alberta! No need to tell you that this match-up will not look like a pre-season game! These two teams hate each other and will want to impose themselves in every way possible. Especially since the Oilers and Flames have a lot to prove in the upcoming playoffs. The Flames have had a disappointing season overall, but mostly their best players. The Gaudreau, Tkachuk, Giordano, etc. will have to prove that last season was just a bad pass and that they still have their touch and offensive power. On the Oilers side, do I need to tell you what they have to prove? The Edmonton attack does not need a description and is one of the most powerful in the NHL on paper. Will the defense hold up? The question is there for them. That's what I'll be watching in this match.
So, NHL fans, the wait is over and let's hit the ice!
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