NHL

NHL Gameday Preview: The First 4 Games of the 2019-20 Season

At long last, the 2019-20 NHL season is set to get underway. On October 2, eight of the league’s 31 teams are in action, including the 2019 Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. With three division rivalry games on tap and the last two Stanley Cup winners clashing on Wednesday night, there won’t be any shortage of exciting action.

Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 PM ET

The Maple Leafs enter 2019-20 coming off of a tumultuous offseason in which they overpaid Mitch Marner on a six-year, $65.4 million deal and had to deal with the off-the ice issues of Autson Mathews, who was charged with disorderly conduct in May and never told the team about it. Matthews, Marner, and John Tavares give the Maple Leafs some of the best young top-line talent in the NHL, and a trade for Tyson Barrie this offseason should help shore up the blue-line; the offseason noise should be a distant memory soon when the wins start piling up.

The Senators finished last season in dead-last with a record of 29-47-6. And they didn’t even have control of their draft pick after they traded it away in 2017 for Matt Duchene, who isn’t even on the team anymore. Ottawa is one of the worst-run franchises in sports, and 2019-20 figures to be another long season.

Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues, 8:00 PM ET

Alex Ovechkin practicing his deadly shot
Alex Ovechkin practicing his deadly shot | Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

This is an exciting matchup between the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals and the 2019 champion St. Louis Blues. Washington is looking to bounce back from a first-round exit against the Carolina Hurricanes last season. Led by Alexander Ovechkin, the Capitals have won the Metropolitan Division every year for the last four seasons and should be in the mix to do so again this year.

The task at hand for the Blues will be to try to avoid the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Since the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons in 1997 and 1998, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only other team to have done so in 2016 and 2017.

Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers, 10:00 PM ET

Connor McDavid is a generational talent with 128 goals and 244 assists through his first 287 games in the NHL. But his brilliance on the ice is going to waste in Edmonton as the Oilers have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons due to the lack of quality depth around McDavid. New head coach Dave Tippett will try to spark a turnaround, but the Oilers still have big holes to fill in their roster.

Vancouver’s rebuild in the post-Sedin era is ahead of schedule thanks to an impressive young core that includes Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat. The Canucks may still be a year or two away from being a legitimate postseason threat, but they are certainly trending in the right direction.

San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights, 10:30 PM ET

The Golden Knights and Sharks have plenty of bad blood
The Golden Knights and Sharks have plenty of bad blood | Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

There will be plenty of bad blood in this one as these two teams last met in the postseason last year. The Golden Knights blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 due to a five-minute major that was incorrectly assessed to Cody Eakin. The blown call has led directly to improved video replay in 2019-20, but that’s too little too late for Vegas.

The Golden Knights will try to get their revenge on the ice. Vegas is the clear favorite to win the Pacific Division this year, but the Sharks are one of the few teams out West that could give the Golden Knights a scare.