The first week of the 2022-23 NHL season is in the books, and it definitely was captivating:
There are 11 undefeated teams — including the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, just as everyone predicted. The new-look Ottawa Senators struggled out of the gate going 0-2, as did Johnny Gaudreau and the Columbus Blue Jackets (0-3). The Pittsburgh Penguins have a run up a plus-8 goal differential, while the Blue Jackets are at minus-9.
It’s still a little weird to see Darcy Kuemper, who helped lead the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup, start the season with the Washington Capitals. It wasn’t weird at all seeing Jack Johnson celebrate the banner raising with his former Avs buddies as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki and the new faces in the Montreal Canadiens’ lineup are a lot of fun to watch; Arber Xhekaj, the first NHL player with the last name starting with X, will become a fan favorite very quickly. There were also injuries that shuffled lineups, including Patrik Laine in Columbus and Matt Murray for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With all that in mind, we are getting set for the second week, and here are five things I’ve got on my radar:
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Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tuesday 7 ET on ESPN
Most people didn’t envision this ahead of the season, but the Flyers have been a fun team to watch. There was already some built-in intrigue within the walls of ESPN as new coach John Tortorella spent last season as our colleague, but the bigger question was: How will Torts get this franchise back in the right direction?
Their win over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 seems like a blueprint. For only the third game in the past five seasons, the Flyers totaled 25-plus hits and blocked shots — i.e. “The Torts Effect.” Philly is 2-0 with wins over the Devils and Vancouver Canucks, but Tuesday is the team’s first big test, against the dynastic Lightning, kicking off a three-game road trip.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is looking to bounce back from a 6-2 loss to Sidney Crosby and the Penguins before heading across the state to take on the Florida Panthers on Friday.
Vegas Golden Knights at Calgary Flames
Tuesday 9 ET
These are fascinating teams. Vegas missed the 2022 playoffs, the first time in franchise history. With Robin Lehner out for the season, rookie Logan Thompson slides into the No. 1 goalie spot, and has a strong chance of gaining a lot of Calder Trophy support if this team competes for a playoff spot. Jack Eichel looks rejuvenated to start the season, with three points in three games, skating on a line with Phil Kessel, who is closing in on the NHL’s record for consecutive games played.
As for Calgary, it saw multiple stars depart — Gaudreau via free agency and Matthew Tkachuk via trade — but brought in stars to replace them — Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar in the Tkachuk deal, with Nazem Kadri signing in free agency after winning the Cup with the Avalanche. While Calgary will always be connected to the Battle of Alberta, the clashes between these two Pacific Division powerhouses will be epic this season.
More speculation on Reverse Retro jerseys
Overall, the first Reverse Retro collection was a home run. Some were incredible, some maybe missed the point, but the concept was terrific and I’m thrilled for its return.
There is no definitive announcement date on the new set, but it has been fun to track the rumored sets that have popped up here and there. Like this concept for the Habs, which is absolutely dynamite:
The Islanders kind of missed the assignment last time around, but they could absolutely steal the show with these:
The perfect Reverse Retro concept incorporates the past into the present and flips the color scheme on its head. It doesn’t look like anything that already exists — it might even be a little jarring at first, but that’s the point. I’m excited to see what teams came up with.
Gabriel Landeskog makes a unique visit
So I’m breaking the rules a bit and looking back, but it’s worth highlighting something awesome that happened.
Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog went to UC Health Highlands Ranch Hospital in Colorado to visit chemotherapy patient and massive Avs fan Robb Baker. Landeskog brought virtual reality goggles with him, so they could relive the Avs Stanley Cup parade together. Just awesome.
Whatever this might be…
Brad Marchand put this cryptic post on his Instagram story. Could this mean he is launching a side gig as a voice actor? Preparing for life after hockey?
And what is this exactly? Is he playing a character in a new movie or show on Disney+? Is he joining the Avengers? Is he a new villain in “The Mandalorian” Season 3? Is he voicing an NHL on ESPN commercial and we don’t know about it?
Whatever it is, I’m excited to find out as I eat a bowl of March Munch cereal.
This week’s NHL on ESPN schedule
Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 ET, ESPN
Los Angeles Kings at Nashville Predators, 9:30 ET, ESPN
New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders, 7:30 ET, ESPN+
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers, 7:30 ET, ESPN+
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