NHL opens season with Rangers looking for revenge against Bolts, plus a Vegas revival
The 2022-23 NHL season officially gets underway in North America with ESPN broadcasting a doubleheader.
First off, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning will renew hostilities as the Bolts ended the Blueshirts run in the Eastern Conference Final.
ESPN will then broadcast the only other game on the docket when the Vegas Golden Knights hope to experience a revival facing the Los Angeles Kings.
NHL Games Today: October 11, 2022
|Tampa Bay Lightning||New York Rangers||7:30 PM ET||ESPN, ESPN+, SN1, TVAS|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Los Angeles Kings||10:00 PM ET||ESPN, ESPN+, SN1, TVAS|
NHL starts season with Rangers vs Lightning
The New York Rangers can move on from a 2022 playoff elimination at the hands of Tampa Bay by continuing their recent regular-season success against the Lightning.
In a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals, the Rangers will aim for their fourth straight regular-season victory over the visiting Lightning in Tuesday night’s season opener in New York.
New York posted 110 points last season, then beat Pittsburgh and Carolina, each in seven games, to meet Tampa Bay for a shot at the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers won the first two games of that series, but the Lightning answered with four straight wins to make a third consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearance before their quest for back-to-back-to-back titles ended in a loss to Colorado.
“We’re exciting about starting the year,” Gerard Gallant said. “We’ve got our team and getting excited to play against Tampa Bay in our own building.”
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin leads the way for New York. After playing 47 games in his first two NHL seasons, Shesterkin went 36-13-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in 2021-22. Including the postseason, Shesterkin has a 2.00 GAA and .941 save percentage in nine starts against the Lightning.
Meanwhile, Artemi Panarin (22 goals, 74 assists in 2021-22), Mika Zibanejad (29 goals, 52 assists) and Chris Kreider (52 goals, 25 assists) are coming off career seasons, and the Rangers added Vincent Trocheck (21 goals, 30 assists) from Carolina. The Rangers also boast three of the game’s top two-way defensemen in Adam Fox (74 points), Jacob Trouba (39) and K’Andre Miller (20).
Of course, Tampa Bay still features some of the NHL’s most elite talent. Steven Stamkos, now entering his 15th season, set a career high with 106 points in 2021-22. Defenseman Victor Hedman’s 85 points and forward Alex Killorn’s 59 were each personal bests, and Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point look to return to dominance after injuries hindered parts of their previous season.
In net, Andrei Vasilevskiy lost a career-high 18 games last season but tied for the NHL lead with 39 wins and posted a 2.49 GAA. He is just 1-3-0 with a 3.23 GAA in the regular season at New York.
Stamkos, who missed a recent preseason game but is expected play Tuesday, has 11 goals with eight assists in his past 14 regular-season and playoff games against the Rangers. Panarin, meanwhile, has five assists in his past four regular-season contests versus Tampa Bay.
“We do have a bunch of new guys playing for us right now,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You want to make sure that they’re feeling comfortable, that veteran guys here, they’re feeling comfortable. We’ve got a ways to go, but like health, confidence in the players making plays, some of our big guys were really making plays, and that’s what you want. So I think everybody starts feeling good about themselves.”
Golden Knights look to put last year behind them
The Bruce Cassidy era of Las Vegas hockey begins Tuesday night when the Vegas Golden Knights open their 2022-23 campaign in Los Angeles against the Kings.
Cassidy was fired by the Boston Bruins following a fourth-place Atlantic Division finish and a 107-point season that ended with a seven-game Eastern Conference first-round playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, He takes over for Peter DeBoer, now the coach of the Dallas Stars.
DeBoer was fired after the injury-plagued Golden Knights surprisingly missed the playoffs for the first time in team history with 94 points and a fourth-place finish in the Pacific Division.
The Golden Knights will be without starting goaltender Robin Lehner, who had double hip surgery, for the season but captain Mark Stone, who had just nine goals and 30 points in 37 games and needed back surgery, is healthy again. So is mid-season acquisition Jack Eichel, who had 14 goals and 11 assists in 34 games following neck surgery.
“It’s night and day,” Stone said of his back. “The nerve pain is gone. Thank God. I have never been through that in my life before.”
Vegas, which went all to the way to the Stanley Cup Final in its initial season in 2017-18 but lost in five games to the Washington Capitals, had been expected to challenge Colorado for the Western Conference title last season. However, the Golden Knights, already lacking depth because of salary cap woes, couldn’t overcome key injuries to Stone, Lehner, Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez.
Pacioretty, who had 97 goals and 97 assists in 224 games with Vegas, was dealt along with promising defenseman Dylan Coghlan to Carolina to help clear $7 million in salary cap space needed to re-sign restricted free agent forward Reilly Smith.
The Golden Knights signed veteran Phil Kessel, 35, to a one-year, $1.5 million to help fill Pacioretty’s scoring void.
“I’m glad we’ve got L.A. right away,” Cassidy said. “It’s a team we’re going to need to be better than this year, a team we’re going to have to outplay. So let’s get after it right away and find out where we’re at.”
Los Angeles overcame a 1-5-1 start to its season and key injuries to defenseman Drew Doughty, who played just 39 games before undergoing wrist surgery, left wing Viktor Arvidsson (back surgery) and defenseman Sean Walker (knee surgery), to snap a three-year playoff drought.
The Kings made a key offseason move when they acquired left wing Kevin Fiala, who had a career-high 33 goals and 52 assists last season, from the Minnesota Wild. Fiala will begin the season on the No. 1 line with five-time All-Star center Anze Kopitar and 2022 All-Star right wing Adrian Kempe, who scored 35 goals last season.
After making a surprise run to the playoffs, Kings coach Todd McLellan said his team will try to deal with increased expectations this season. That starts with winning a playoff series for the first time since the team’s 2014 Stanley Cup run as well as getting off to a good start to the season.
“We’d like to take a step forward,” McLellan said. “We would. We took a big leap last year. We’d like to build on that and move forward.
–Field Level Media