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NHL Opening Night preview: Connor Bedard set for NHL debut

The long wait for a new NHL season is finally over, as the fun gets started on this Tuesday night.

The Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup during the 2022-23 season, and the quest for all 32 teams begins on this night. 

On this opening night there are three games, and we will be doing a preview to get set for the season. Welcome to the 2023-24 NHL campaign.

Lightning and Predators face off

What  Nashville Predators @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Where  Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
When  5:30 PM ET, Tuesday, October 10
How to watch  Sportsnet
Money LineNAS Predators +135, TB Lightning -155

The night kicks off with a match between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa Bay comes right out of pre-season into their home opener, while the Predators begin on the road. The teams at hand are expected to end up on different sides of the standings, but early-season games offer lots of intensity.

Tampa Bay begins their two-month stretch without their starting goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy, but they’ve still got a very strong squad. 

The main core of their Stanley Cup wins is still intact, which makes them a constant threat. It will be interesting to see if the retooling Nashville Predators can catch them off guard as the road underdogs. 

The Predators added some nice pieces this off-season, so they have a roster that could make this a close game. Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyqvist, and Luke Schenn highlight that list, but they are still expected to finish within the bottom half of the league.

All eyes on Bedard

What  CHI Blackhawks @ PIT Penguins
Where  PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When  8 PM ET, Tuesday, October 10
How to watch  Sportsnet
Money LineCHI Blackhawks +210, PIT Penguins -250

The next game of the night is between the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

This game will be a must-watch for many reasons. The biggest reason is that it is the debut of Connor Bedard. 

Last year’s first overall pick is projected to be one of the best players the league has seen since Connor McDavid, and his career begins on this night. It comes against another one of the NHL’s best in Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins will look to kick this highly touted season off with a win, as they are going all-in. 

This was proven by acquiring superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson from San Jose, along with many other counterparts. 

Their main core of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are on the wrong side of 30, so missing the playoffs like they did last year is unacceptable. They could really use a win to kick off their season.

Luckily for them, the Blackhawks are in full rebuild mode. The Bedard era is beginning, so it is expected they will be near the bottom of the standings, with a selling attitude. Pittsburgh, who is on their home ice, should be able to beat a team with minimal depth and lack of talent. 

Champions begin title defense

What  SEA Kraken @ VGS Golden Knights
Where  T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When  10:30 PM ET, Tuesday, October 10
How to watch  Sportsnet
Money LineSEA Kraken +145, VGS Golden Knights -165

The night closes off with the Stanley Cup banner raising in Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights host the Seattle Kraken in a battle of the two most recent expansion teams, in what will be a special night of celebration. 

After the ceremonies, it is time for the action to begin in what should be a close game.

Vegas obviously has no complaints about last season, after winning the Western Conference title with 111 points, earning 51 wins, and taking home the Stanley Cup. They also have a very similar roster as they had last year, so they will be aiming to get back. It all starts on this night, but they won’t have a cakewalk.

The Kraken are a feisty team who can run down teams, and they’ve been resting and training longer than the Golden Knights have. Seattle will look to take a bigger step after their second-round elimination in last year’s playoffs, so they should be very hungry. This should be an electric game.

Each game should bring its own intensity and can create its own storylines to kick off the season. 

Can the Lightning overcome missing their starting goaltender for the first two months of the season? Is Connor Bedard the real deal? Are the Golden Knights equipped to be repeat Stanley Cup winners? Those answers will begin to be answered on opening night.

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