Get ready for the NHL season’s opening night! While the Rangers wait until Thursday’s game in Buffalo, we break down exciting matchups and who Blueshirts fans should root for.
The wait is over, NHL fans! The 2023-24 season kicks off tonight, and though the Rangers play on Thursday, there’s action to dive into. Last year’s Stanley Cup champs, the Vegas Golden Knights, set the tone.
Predictions and Recommendations for Opening Night Matchups:
The Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning start the season at 5:30PMET, and it’s always exciting to see the early-season intensity, especially with Tampa Bay missing their starting goaltender, Andrei Vasilevsky, for the first two months. The Predators, like Ryan O Reilly, Gustav Nyquist, and Luke Schenn, made excellent off-season additions. With Jusse Saros in goal, they aim for a run at the playoffs.
However, the real highlight is the Chicago Blackhawks facing the Pittsburgh Penguins at 8PMET. It’s Connor Bedard’s debut, and hockey fans can’t wait to see if he lives up to the hype. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 16 years, the Penguins are going all-in with their roster and need a strong start. It’ll be interesting to see the first looks of the Penguins’ new Power Play spearheaded by offseason acquisition and Norris Trophy Winner Erik Karlsson.
Lastly, we’ve got dessert – the Vegas Golden Knights raise their Stanley Cup banner against the Seattle Kraken. Vegas aims for a repeat, but the Kraken are hungry after last year’s playoff run.
Each game tonight has storylines; we can’t wait to see how they unfold. That said, who should we root for as Rangers fans?
For Lightning vs. Predators, it’s a bit of a win-win. We can root for the Predators as the underdogs and hope they surprise the Lightning in their home opener. Yet, since Tampa Bay is in the Atlantic, a Bolts win doesn’t hurt us, either. Still, I’ll go with Nashville.
For the main course, cheering for Chicago can help the Rangers indirectly because it could mean more points lost for the Penguins in the standings.
Also, Pittsburgh is one of our division rivals, and every time they lose, it’s a win for us in the Metropolitan Division.
Plus, who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Bedard’s debut excites the season and reminds us of our young talents, like Alexis Lafrenière and Kaapo Kakko. On a personal note, I have Bedard on my fantasy hockey team (12-man Yahoo league), so a good start is crucial.
And finally, the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken – you can lean toward Vegas if you want to support the reigning champs. Or if you’re feeling rebellious, go Kraken. Plus, both are in the Pacific division, so no harm’s done to us Metro members. I’m siding with Vegas because seeing the champions win on banner night is always fantastic. Also, I have goaltender Adin Hill on my Fantasy team (18-team league), so there’s a personal benefit if he plays well.