Welcome to the Pregame Skate, a Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox
🍁Oh Captain My Captain: The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that John Tavares will wear the “C” this year. Oh, and Jason Spezza was a healthy scratch for their opener.
What’s Happening: After a year on the sidelines, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault is ready to lead a team with tons of promise. The off-season addition of Kevin Hayes in particular has title-starved Flyers fans believing this might be the year, but are they ready to compete with teams like the Capitals, Penguins, and Islanders in the competitive Metropolitan Division?
Tell Me More: Vigneault told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he wasn’t concerned with the past, but the truth of the matter is that it has been a rough go for the Flyers in recent years. Philly has missed the playoffs four out of the last seven years, and they’ve watched their bitter rival win three Stanley Cups in the last decade.
Vigneault’s vision for the Flyers is to be a fast paced, hard forechecking team that keeps their opponents on their heels. They’ve shown this in bits and pieces during the preseason, but a concerning loss to Lausanne HC prior to their season opener in Prague, Czech Republic on Friday displayed some of the team’s potential deficiencies.
Bottom Line: Carter Hart struggled in this game, and he wouldn’t be the first goalie to have a sophomore slump after jumping on the scene in his first year (which is why we will have our eye on Jordan Binnington this year). It’s great to see Vigneault and the Flyers heading in the right direction, but Flyers fans should practice patience, as this transformation could take a couple years.
Next Question for Q
What’s Happening: Alain Vigneault wasn’t the only high profile bench boss who found a new home this summer. Three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville is all settled in South Beach—what can we expect from his Florida Panthers this season?
For starters, Sergei Bobrovsky should be a huge upgrade in goal after signing a massive ten year deal worth $70 million. Bob’s .913 save percentage last season was over a percentage and a half better than that of the four goalies who played for the Panthers.
Young Core: The Panthers have found a way develop an impressive group of talented players just hitting their prime. Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad will lead the way alongside veterans like Anton Stralman and Brett Connolly who GM Dale Tallon acquired over the summer.
The Bigger Picture: Watch out for the Panthers this year, especially considering the fact that they could be overshadowed by the Hurricanes, who gained a huge following last season.
Dig Deeper: Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel
May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor
The Odds are in: According to the odds-makers at www.SportsBettingDime.com, the Lightning are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup at 9/1 odds. The Golden Knights are second at 11/1, while the last two Stanley Cup champions, the Blues and Capitals, are 37/2 and 45/2 respectively. The Flyers rank 21st in the league with 55/1 odds.
Individual Odds: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Nikita Kucherov are the front-runners to take home the Hart Trophy, while Jack Hughes and Cale Makar are tied atop the Calder list at 7/1 odds.
🔥 Sports Betting Dime even has odds for which NHL coach will be the first to get fired—the Wild’s Bruce Boudreau leads that coveted race with 7/1 odds.
Track all the odds here.
One Game to Watch: Jets vs. Rangers
When: Thursday, October 3rd, 7 p.m. EST
Watch: MSG Network
The Matchup: This matchup is the tale of two teams who had very different off-seasons. The Rangers followed up a successful draft by snagging free agents Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. The Jets, on the other hand, spent the summer in turmoil as they struggled to sign RFAs Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor. We’ve got the Rangers in this one in front of an excited Madison Square Garden crowd.
Players to Watch: Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko.
More Links from the Rink
The Capitals shocked the NHL yesterday, electing to keep a 22-year-old Russian netminder with no NHL experience over the incumbent who won them 16 games last year.
NHL Seattle announces plans for their brand new training facility.
Who has the best defensive group in the NHL this season?