Quick! Look at the NHL site! There are games scheduled today! Real ones, worth points and everything! And in October no less. Slap me silly.
October 1st. And while teams of lesser importance may play today, the Dallas Stars' season doesn't begin until the 3rd of October. Some quick mental arithmetic and we arrive at... two days until the season really begins. Two days! An infinitesimally small amount of time, that still creeps by agonizingly slowly.
We'll get there.
But, since the NHL 2013-2014 season officially begins today, there are predictions and previews galore. Not surprisingly, a lot of the talk revolves around the chances of the Blackhawks repeating as Stanley Cup Champions. Vegas has them as the favorites, but that's not taking into account the Hawks being stuck facing the Stars multiple times in division play.
But would anyone truly be surprised to see Chicago win it back-to-back? Maybe not, but history sides against them. If it were to happen though, the NHL might have its first dynasty since the Red Wings of the late 90s. The Blackhawks players however are avoiding talk of that label. When asked about the Blackhawks being a dynasty, Patrick Sharp replied, "I'm not going to say that word. All I'm going to say is that we have a great setup in Chicago from the top down. ... We are excited in Chicago to see what we can do." [USA Today]
The Washington Capitals will be traveling to Chicago to open the season tonight. Actually, they've probably already traveled. Whatever. Regardless, we shall soon see if the Hawks can get off to a start like their unholy 24 game point streak to open last season. Most people are gonna say no. I'm looking forward to finding out.
And if you haven't had enough of previews, and are yet to spend some time browsing this particular one, check out SB Nation's very own NHL Season Preview.
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In the meantime, here's good news for anyone who was sweating the thought of Jordie Benn being the veteran blueline presence in a defense pairing with Kevin Connauton. Looks like Trevor Daley will be dressed for Thursday's season opener. Meaning Connauton will get his first taste of the NHL as a healthy scratch. There are worse things.[Stars Inside Edge]
Mike Heika lays out the budding rivalries that realignment will provide. Believe him, and the Stars will basically have six bitter rivals in the division. I'm ok with that. [Sports Day DFW]
I missed this part of the whole Luke Gazdic thing. The injury suffered by Steve MacIntyre, that led to Gazdic being claimed off waivers by Edmonton? A result of a missed check by MacIntyre on Gazdic during the pre-season game. That's one way to give yourself a shot at cracking an NHL lineup... [Edmonton Journal]
Looks like Tim Thomas waltzed into Panthers' training camp and took over the starting goaltender position. Just like that. Here's hoping he shows the rust on Thursday. [NESN]
Puck Daddy's ‘What We Learned' feature, bringing you up to speed on the events of the weekend. Worth scrolling down to their comment on the Stars. [Puck Daddy]
ESPN have their expert picks for the season up. And yes, Dallas is still a dark horse. And by dark horse, I mean a black horse running on a black night, completely invisible to anyone making predictions of any kind whatsoever. But then again, they only picked division winners and conference finalists, so maybe it was always gonna be a long shot... [ESPN]
It's official. Hybrid icing is in. [NHL.com]
Let's talk about hockey analytics. Or rather, let's read about other people talking about hockey analytics. Eric Tulsky, writer at Broad Street Hockey, breaks down the advances in sabermetrics, and specifically stats on zone entry. For more on it, check out Broad Street Hockey's archives. [Post Sports]
We're going to end today with a story brought to my attention by gdemander. Last Friday the DFW Sled Hockey team had the majority of their equipment stolen. Basically meaning the outreach part of the program, which allows people with disabilities the chance to play hockey, is now on hold. So everyone keep an eye out on the black market for a surfeit of hockey gear, or, preferably, if you'd like to be more directly helpful and make a donation to assist the organization in recouping their loss, information can be found at the end of the following article. [Dallas News]