We may be in the grips of summer weather, where it even gets into the 70s in Canada, but yes, it’s time to start thinking about hockey. Now’s the best time to plan ahead for the NHL season: Tickets for eight teams’ home games go on sale this week, making hockey our featured artist. And much like those famous artists Carrot Top, David Copperfield, and the cast of Thunder from Down Under, the NHL is taking its show to Las Vegas this year with the expansion Golden Knights team. Put your money down on Vegas being a popular road trip destination for fans of visiting teams.
Check out the lineup of teams you can buy home game tickets for this week.
Las Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas has been shunned for a long time by the world of professional sports due to gambling concerns, but that is all about to end with the arrival of the Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena. With the expansion draft last June allowing them to pluck a veteran player from each team in the league, Vegas goes into the season with an experienced lineup, anchored by Marc-Andre Fleury in goal with 375 wins to his credit, including 62 in the playoffs.
New York Rangers
The Rangers are looking to improve on a decent showing last year on the ice in Madison Square Garden, where they went 48-28-6. They made the playoffs, where they were bounced by the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in the second round. Coach Alain Vigneault remains at the helm, and captain Ryan McDonagh returns to hopefully lead the team to an improvement on their fourth-place finish in the Metropolitan Division, and to possibly win their fifth Stanley Cup.
Fans of the Blackhawks were a bit stunned last year, as was the rest of the league, when the team was swept in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Stanley Cup finalists Nashville Predators. However, they are a resilient team that has won six Cups, including three championships between 2010 and 2015. Captain Jonathan Toews and superstar Patrick Kane return, and the lineup is bolstered by depth signings of forwards Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels. Look for the United Center to be rocking again this year as the Hawks strive to make a deeper run into the playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are ready to hit the ice of the Staples Center after just missing the playoffs last year in a tough Western Division race. The team lives and dies by the play of goalie Jonathan Quick, who has a reputation of being injury-prone. The team signed Darcy Kuemper to a one-year deal as a back-up and signed 22-year-old free agent Cal Petersen as insurance for the future. The Kings are hoping to get back into the form that won them two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning are entering their 26th season having signed alternate captain Ondrej Palat to a five-year extension in the off season, much to the delight of their fan base. They also signed notable free-agents Dan Girardi from the Rangers and Chris Kunitz from the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. These additions should help bolster a team that went 42–30–10 and failed to qualify for the playoffs after three straight years making it.
The Stars will be hitting the ice in the American Airlines Arena this year. They’re hoping to improve on last year’s less-than-impressive 34-37-11 season, which gave their players plenty of time to work on their golf games while other teams were in the playoffs. Just a year earlier, the Stars won the Central Division, and in April the team hired veteran head coach Ken Hitchcock to whip them back into a Stanley Cup contender.
Last season marked the 20th anniversary of the Coyotes moving to the desert from Winnipeg, and the team is looking to bounce back from that 30-42-10 record with a winning season and a playoff appearance for the first time in many years. They appear to be moving in the right direction, having sent two players to Chicago for blue-line stud Niklas Hjalmarsson. Combine that with a monumental shake-up in the front office, and the Yotes could be ready to hit the ice with a new attitude.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets will be led by coach John Tortorella onto the ice of Nationwide Arena this year after a more-than-respectable showing last year, including a 50-24-8 record and a playoff bounce to the eventual Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nick Foligno returns as captain, and two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky remains in goal, where he has served admirably since 2012.