Hockey Highlights: The 2016-17 NHL Season
Give me the Bullets
- The 100th NHL season kicked off October 12
- The Pittsburgh Penguins (including good Canadian boy Sid the Kid) are the defending champs
- Sad state of affairs: not a single Canadian team made the playoffs last season
By the Numbers
The regular NHL season runs from October 12 to April 9; 29 teams play 82 games until we hit the post-season. Once the playoffs start, there’s a 16-team elimination tournament.
Why Should I Care?
Canadians love hockey—but our teams have been coming up short. Not a single Canadian team made the playoffs last season, and we haven’t taken home a Stanley Cup since 1993, despite making the finals a bunch of times (thanks Montreal!). So you could say we’re overdue. We have five months to prove that hockey’s still our sport. We just came off a WCOH win, so hopefully we can take that confidence all the way through the regular season.
Are Our Teams Any Good?
- The Montreal Canadiens were destined to be great last year—but then goalie Carey Price got injured and the dream was over. Now, with Subban gone and Price back in the mix, the Canadiens are a different team with a fantastic playoff outlook.
- The Edmonton Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, but last year they drafted forward Connor McDavid, who picked up 48 points in 45 games. Some are saying he could be as good as Gretzky or Crosby (and we’re hoping it’s true).
- Oh, and the Toronto Maple Leafs…it’s their 50-year anniversary of their last Stanley Cup, and with the team in rebuilding mode, we might be waiting another 50. But they did sign Auston Matthews (who had four goals in his NHL debut!), so who knows?
We also have four other teams: The Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
OK So, Who’s Actually Good?
The Pittsburgh Penguins are sitting pretty after winning the Stanley Cup last year, but they’ll have to have a stellar season to defend it. Most experts agree that come playoffs, they’ll be five teams in the hunt: Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars. While there isn’t a Canadian team on the list, that doesn’t mean they won’t get there. If there’s one thing we know for sure: Professional sports leagues are all about upsets.
Rookies to Look Out For
A lot of rookies are going to get ice time this year, especially in Canada. The Leafs are in the process of rebuilding their team, so expect to see a lot of new (and young) faces each game. Their top draft pick (and the top draft pick overall) was Auston Matthews, who’s already proved he’s a force to be reckoned with, scoring four goals—and setting an NHL record—in his professional debut.
Patrick Laine was drafted second overall by Calgary, and has already made his presence known. The rookie scored his first NHL goal in his first game and assisted in the goal that gave the team the win.
Selected by the Edmonton Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi was the fourth pick overall—and is poised to make a big impact on the team. He also scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game.
Lastly, Calgary selected Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall, and though the rookie didn’t score in his debut like the other three, his physical style of play was something that everyone took notice of. Watch out for him to have some big hits and maybe even some big goals throughout the season.
How Can I Watch the Games?
If you still have a cable subscription (who are you people?) then you can watch most NHL games on your local Sportsnet. Hockey Night in Canada will still be on CBC, but will also air simultaneously on CityTV and Sportsnet.
If you cut the cord a long time ago, Sportsnet also offers an OTT package (Sportsnet Now), so you can get access to all games online. You can also sign up for GameCentre Live, another OTT product that gives you access to almost every NHL game.
If seeing games live is more your bag, then visit NHL.com for tickets—but they won’t come cheap in Canada. Of the most expensive teams to see IRL, four out of five are Canadian.
Get the Spirit of the Game at Home
Beer is always a big sponsor of the NHL season, and this year, Budweiser is kicking things up a notch. They’re giving away 500,000 pint glasses with red lights built into the base, that sync with your smart phone. Every time your team scores a goal, your cup will celebrate. The glasses come as a gift with the purchase of a case of Bud.
Key Dates for Your Calendar
October 12: The regular season started!
October 23: The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers in the football stadium.
January 1: The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field to celebrate the 100th anniversaries of the team and league.
January 2: The St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at their baseball stadium.
January 29: The All-Star Game is taking place in LA this year, but will be played by the same crazy rules that were introduced last year. There will be four teams made up of the best players from each division. The Eastern and Western teams play three-on-three (not including the goalies) for two 10-minute periods. The winners then play a third game to determine the winner.
February 25: The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers in the battle of Pennsylvania.
April 9, 2017: Regular season ends.
OK So, Who’s Really Going to Win?
Our money’s on Pittsburgh, but that’s just ‘cause we have a soft spot for Sid the Kid.
Who to Follow
@NHL: Because, obviously.
@NHLPLayerSafety: Stay up to date with player suspensions and fines.
@CoachsCornerCBC: Don Cherry. He’s the Canadian King of Hockey, and you
know he’s entertaining.
@hockeynight: Hockey Night in Canada. It’s a Canadian legend and has been the home of Saturday night hockey since 1931. Follow for all the latest NHL news.
@FriedgeHNIC: Elliotte Friedman. Follow Elliotte (a veteran sports journalist and NHL insider) for league news and player updates.
@TSNBobMcKenzie: Bob McKenzie. Bob’s been covering hockey since 1986; there isn’t a commentator around who knows more about the game than he does.
@mapleleafs: The Toronto Maple Leafs. Follow for the latest team news and behind-the-scenes access to players and management.
@NHLFlames: The Calgary Flames. Want to know more about the organization? Give the official team account a follow.
@EdmontonOilers: The Edmonton Oilers. Follow to stay on top of player activity and team announcements.
@OttawaSenators: The Ottawa Senators. Keep up to date on player and team news by following the Senators’ official Twitter account.
@VanCanucks: The Vancouver Canucks. The team’s Twitter account shares everything you need to know if you’re a Canucks fan.
@NHLJets: The Winnipeg Jets. Canada’s newest team keeps fans on top of all player and team news through their Twitter account.
@CanadiensMTL: The Montreal Canadiens. Like most team accounts, @CanadiensMTL will give you an all-access pass to the team and players.
@strombone1: Roberto Luongo. Luongo kept his Twitter identity under wraps for a long time, but fans eventually figured it out. Follow him for laughs and insight into the game (and being a goalie).
@PKSubban1: P.K. Subban. This ex-Montreal Canadiens player may be on an American team now, but he still has a soft spot for us.