The 2016–2017 NHL regular season started October 12 to the excitement of hockey fans across the nation. With all of the roster moves having taken place during the off-season, fans will be watching in anticipation to see how their new teams will fare this year.
Last year’s Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, have former Maple Leaf Phil Kessel and Canadian Sidney Crosby leading the charge. Despite the fact that Crosby has not played since the start of the regular season due to a concussion and even though its uncertain when he will return to the starting lineup, the Penguins are still an early favourite to contend for the cup this year.
Leafs fans are expecting to see a completely different performance from their team this season. The Leafs underwent significant changes during the off-season, including trading both of their goalies James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. The Leafs played their first game of the regular season on October 12 against the Ottawa Senators. Despite losing the game in overtime 5–4, the game offered fans a hopeful look at what’s to come.
Auston Matthews, who was drafted first overall by the Leafs this year, scored four goals in his NHL debut. His stellar performance set an example for his teammates and a high bar for the other rookies.
The Leafs hosted the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on October 15 for their home opener, this time finishing with a high-scoring 4–1 game in their favour. Mitch Marner, another of the bright Leafs prospects, scored his first NHL goal and new Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen picked up his first win.
The Leafs scored four goals again in their third game but came up empty, losing 5–4 to the Winnipeg Jets in overtime. Nazem Kadri scored two goals and William Nylander scored his first goal of the season. While the Leafs have performed well offensively, they need to tighten up their defense. Still, it is hard not to be optimistic when the team totalled 12 goals in their first three games.
On the other side of the country, the Vancouver Canucks have had a fantastic start to the season, winning their first four games in a row. Even though it is only the start of the regular season, and it may be too early to predict which teams have a chance of making the playoffs, the Canucks have hit the ice with a bright start.
Regardless of whether the Canucks can keep winning or the Leafs can keep the puck out of their net, the season is shaping up to be exciting as the quest for the Stanley Cup begins.