It has been a dreadfully long offseason. I have not seen a puck dropped at center ice or one hit the back of the net in months. Teams have begun submitting their opening night rosters, which officially declares hockey is back.
There are storylines across the board to start. Players 21 and younger that have made their teams out of training camp are hungry to prove their worth. Some have accomplished this feat coming into the year and looking to build on last season and others are ready to get their feet wet for the first time.
All fans must be alert as opening night is just one day away.
The Pittsburgh Penguins may have found a diamond in the rough midway through last year. Jake Guentzel tallied 16 goals and 17 assists in just 40 games last season. The rookie was the team’s leading goal scorer in the playoffs on their way to capturing their fifth Stanley Cup.
Guentzel will be heading into his first full season with the team. The 23-year-old is setup to have a monstrous season being in what most would agree a very comfortable situation.
The Pens have a top-two forward in Sidney Crosby. They have one of the most dynamic goal scorers in Evgeni Malkin and a pure sniper in Phil Kessel.
The beauty in all of this is that head coach Mike Sullivan spreads the wealth around. Pittsburgh’s power play is the only time you will see these three together.
The reality is that Jake Guentzel is playing with one of the best in Crosby and some of the best players in the National Hockey League in many different circumstances.
I expect to see a huge breakout season for the young up and coming star. Reality may sink in and tell us otherwise. However, the excitement is definitely there as Guentzel prepares for opening night against St. Louis.
A 19-year-old American-born hockey player was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He stands at 6-foot-5 and notched 64 points in 70 career collegiate games awaiting his first NHL game this week.
After totaling one goal and three assists this preseason, the rookie is ready to go according to his head coach Mike Yeo. His name: Tage Thompson.
The rookie has made the Blues roster out of training camp and is set to play against Guentzel on Wednesday. There is hope for this potential star as he has been given this opportunity right away due to St. Louis’ early injuries.
He will start play on the third line with not exactly household names of Magnus Paajarvi and Oskar Sundqvist (former Penguin). However, you may see him at the point on the Blues’ power play with his cannon of a shot. Nevertheless, he must be relentless in creating offense himself this season.
Pressure often fuels rookies, but you never how they will respond. Thompson is being asked to not only contribute in this position, but hopefully be a focal point in the team’s success.
Production needs to come from the bottom six within St. Louis’ lineup for them to be successful. They are a team still looking for their first championship and are relying heavily on their youth. The Blues head to Pittsburgh for opening night on Wednesday, October 4th.
There is no more waiting
Hockey is back, which is the greatest line anyone could say right now. Many believe that baseball is the longest season because of its 162 games. However, hockey goes nine-plus months vs. baseball’s six-plus months.
We need a break from the grind, but the break is excruciating for those who do not play in the final. That is now 29 of the 31 teams in this league.
If you do not play beyond the first and second rounds of the postseason or don’t even the playoffs at all, you are beyond ready. April 9 (last day of ’16-17 season) was almost 200 days ago, which was the last time close to half of NHL cities witnessed their teams playing competitive hockey. It is time.
Let’s drop the puck.
“From Our Haus to Yours”