NHL Hot Takes Ahead of 2022-23 Season
The NHL season is set to start next week, and teams are working on finalizing rosters and strategies to pursue Lord Stanley’s Cup. Without further adieu, let’s jump right in.
Matt Murray Finds Success in Toronto
Since his key role in the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, Matt Murray has struggled to find that production level. The Penguins lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, and the play-in round of the 2020 playoffs.
This is, in part, due to the struggles Murray had between the pipes. Murray was recently dealt across the province of Ontario, this time landing in Toronto, where he looks to turn his career around.
The Maple Leafs have the offensive power and the defensive play to sustain Murray’s production. He has the potential to be a star there like he was in Pittsburgh.
Murray and the Leafs look to get past the first round this season finally, and Murray will have a career year in the 6ix as a result.
The Penguins Will Make it to The Eastern Conference Finals
Like Murray, the Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled since their back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016-17. The black and gold have not made it past the first round since the 2017 postseason.
GM Ron Hextall has done his part in bringing the band back together for next season by inking Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to their respective contracts. Hextall has also brought back key players like Kasperi Kapanen, Rickard Rakell and Casey Desmith. The Pens have also acquired Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling from the Canadiens and Ty Smith from the Devils.
Bringing the band back together was a risky decision that the Penguins' front office decided to make. It failed miserably for the Chicago Blackhawks when they tried to do it, but I have faith that the Penguins will find success in doing so.
Sidney Crosby, Malkin, and Letang are all in the back half of their thirties, and the three aren’t getting any younger.
Crosby did everything in his power to bring both Malkin and Letang back to the Steel City for this season, now they just need to prove that this was the right decision.
Hextall added to the blue-line depth over the offseason, and Tristan Jarry and Desmith will be the netminders with rumors of a potential Marc-Andre Fleury return being shot down after he resigned in Minnesota.
The New York Rangers Will Struggle to Get Back to the Playoffs
Last season was a surprise for many, with the New York Rangers exploding after a subpar season in 2020-21, and the Blueshirts made a deep playoff run.
They rebounded from a slow start against the Penguins in Round 1, hung with the Hurricanes in Round 2, and were finally defeated by the Lightning who were looking for the first 3-peat in the NHL since the Islanders in the 1980s.
With rising stars Adam Fox and Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers look to replicate last season’s successes. They have the star power up front with Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad to make another serious run.
To ask Shesterkin to replicate last year’s performance while being outshot that many times is a large ask, and the young netminder could see some struggles as he will be tasked to take on an even larger workload than last season with the loss of a backup goalie Alexander Georgiev.
If the Rangers do not find a way to fix the shot totals by the end of the game, making the playoffs this season will be a large achievement for the team.
John Tortorella Will Help the Philadelphia Flyers Make Steps in the Right Direction
It is no mystery that the Philadelphia Flyers have struggled the past few seasons. The Broad Street Bullies also failed to land Johnny Gaudreau last offseason, without even giving him an offer.
Gaudreau made it clear that he wanted to wear orange and black, but the Flyers failed to offer him a contract. This resulted in Gaudreau signing with a division foe, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Flyers recently hired head coach John Tortorella to try to right the ship, and I think he will help the team start to turn things around.
Many players have hated playing under Tortorella because he is very hard on his players and has a more old-fashioned style of coaching, but it has worked in the past.
Tortorella also helped the Columbus Blue Jackets pull off maybe the most improbable upset in Round 1 of the 2019 Playoffs–the first series win in Blue Jackets franchise history. They swept the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were coming off of a record-setting regular season, which was also the best in their franchise’s history.
His style of coaching may be different, he may be meaner and tougher on his players than most, but Tortorella gets the job done. The Flyers, led by Tortorella, will begin to turn things around this season.
Neither The Tampa Bay Lightning nor the Colorado Avalanche Will Pass the Second Round of the Playoffs
This is easily the hottest take on the list. The Lightning was given a heartbreaker in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Avalanche, a young squad, have earned Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time in 21 years.
The Lightning reminds me of the Pittsburgh Penguins after their back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016-17. The Penguins have struggled to make it past the first round since, and the team isn’t getting any younger.
The Lightning finally got over the hump and have won two straight Stanley Cups, but they have their fair share of veteran age throughout their squad. I believe that they will find the same struggles as the Pens have in the last decade.
The Avalanche is a young team who have finally overcome adversity and won a championship. I believe that the Avalanche will have a very hard Stanley Cup hangover, and will struggle to find their legs towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.
Winning the Stanley Cup places a bounty on the Avalanche, and we will soon find out if they are up to the challenge of defending their title.
Billy Siemon is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.