The struggle for the NHL’s Central Division
Last year, the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup in dramatic fashion over the Boston Bruins in seven games. Despite a significant victory under their belt, they’ll have a tough go of it in one of the league’s top divisions. As NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman points out, several teams in the Central Division could challenge St. Louis, including:
- The Nashville Predators, with free-agent signing Matt Duchene complementing new teammate Ryan Johansen
- The Colorado Avalanche’s renovated second line with new addition Nazem Kadri behind the already stellar first line of Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nathan MacKinnon
- The Dallas Stars’ elite goalie, Ben Bishop
If the Blues want to return to the Stanley Cup, they must get through this onslaught of solid teams. Whichever team emerges may have what it takes to go all the way yet again. It worked for St. Louis last year, so it may work again for whoever takes the Central this NHL season.
Will the Carolina Hurricanes bring back “Storm Surge”?
Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes started doing something no pro sports team has done before. After every home win, they’d stay on the ice and celebrate with the fans in what became known as the “Storm Surge.” Most times this included jumping into the boards. Sometimes they’d incorporate other sports, mimicking bowling or baseball on the ice. The fans ate it up as the Canes won 24 of 41 home games.
The Storm Surge drew a lot of attention. Famed hockey analyst Don Cherry called the team “a bunch of jerks,” leading the team to print t-shirts adorned with the phrase fans couldn’t gobble up fast enough.
On March 28, 2018, the team ended Storm Surge celebrations. Despite halting the beloved practice, the buzz around the team remains consistent. Will the Hurricanes capture the same energy and excitement of last season? Will they be able to replicate last year’s home success? And if they begin to falter out of the gate, is there a chance they bring the Storm Surge back?
Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes re-ignite a rivalry
The New York Rangers selected Finland’s Kaapo Kakko with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft. According to Deadspin, he’s already shown flashes of greatness: “The 18-year-old Finnish phenom … is already getting his first taste of NHL-ish competition, at the Traverse City tournament. … On Monday, in a 4-3 win against the Wild’s prospects, Kakko assisted on the Rangers’ first three goals, then took matters into his own stick for the overtime winner.
Meanwhile across the Hudson, the New Jersey Devils selected Jack Hughes with the No. 1 overall pick. He played in two games at the NHL’s 2019 Prospects Challenge and scored a goal. Like Kakko, Hughes has enormous potential. Seeing these two young stars develop will be fun for New York and New Jersey fans. It may reignite a dormant rivalry.