NHL season continues to impress fans

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

The first three weeks of this NHL season have been going as well as the fans expected. We’ve seen some blow outs and some really close games decided in overtime or shootout.

One of the most anticipated affairs of the season was when the Edmonton Oilers ventured into Pittsburgh to play the Penguins, back-to-back Stanley Cup winners. This game only happens twice a year, unless by chance both teams make it to the finals — which would be amazing. But that is not very likely. It’s not really a team rivalry, but a player rivalry. The two players that have fueled this rivalry are Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid of Pittsburgh and Edmonton respectively.

Crosby was the number one draft pick of 2005 against McDavid the number one pick of 2015. Everyone has their favorite player and they don’t have to be these guys

by any means, but no one can deny the talent between these two. The Penguins took this game 2-1 in overtime, as Ian Cole scored first for the Penguins, but McDavid tied it up late in the third period to force an overtime. Phil Kessel scored the game winner; it was a quiet night for Crosby.

The Chicago Blackhawks traveled out west to play the newest addition to the NHL, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. With the past success of the Hawks and the great start for the Knights, this was set to be one of the top matchups thus far. This game only happens three times in the regular season, but these two teams could easily meet in the Western Conference Final in the playoffs.

Vegas has been off to a terrific start, sitting at 7-1, the best start for an expansion team ever, while the Hawks are 5-3-2, which may seem solid, but not  to Chicago’s standards. Both teams are second in their divisions as the St. Louis Blues lead the Central and the Los Angeles Kings sit in front of the Knights in the Pacific.

A start like this from Vegas is unheard of for an expansion team, but they were looking forward to their first encounter with Chicago. The Golden Knights won the game 4-2, but it was Chicago who got on the board first.

John Hayden made a dazzling play as he took on and beat the entire defense with some good stick handles, putting it through the legs of Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford. Shortly after, William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek got the goals for Vegas to give them the 2-1 lead heading into the first period intermission. Later, Pierre-Edourd Bellenare was awarded the game winning goal late in the second to make it 3-1. Jonathan Marchessault made it 4-1 in the third period, but star player Patrik Kane went out fighting with his goal late in the third to finalize the game at 4-2.

The final big game of the week was last Wednesday as Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames came to visit the Blues. This match up, the first of three in the regular-season, had everything to be a great game. the Blues are 7-2-1 and undefeated on home ice so far, while the Flames are 5-5 on the season. Things started off interestingly as the Flames were the first to get on the board with Mikael Backlund’s first goal of the game early in the first period, but Alexander Steen tied it back up at 1-1 soon after that as they headed into intermission. Jaden Schwartz made it 2-1 for the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo later doubled that lead. Backlund made it 3-2 for the Flames as he scored into an empty net after a slip up from Blues goaltender Jake Allen; but Paul Stastny scored late in the third period to restore the two-goal lead and Joel Edmundson put the puck into the empty net at the end of the game to finish it at 5-2.

There have been some great games the last couple of days. The Nashville Predators, who are looking to have their best season yet after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Penguins last year, head to Chicago to play the Hawks tonight. This one should be good as it’s a great Central Division rivalry and both teams are in need of these early season points. Nashville is 4-3-1 right now, not the best start to the season, but like I said, both these teams need to turn themselves around to get some points. Expect Kane to keep it fast paced as usual for the Hawks and P.K. Subban to continue scoring for the Predators.

Tomorrow night there are two games to watch out for. The first-place Kings take on the Boston Bruins. It’s one of those weird cross-country rivalries between the East and the West and it’s shaped up to be a good contest. Expect Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to keep things going for the Bruins and Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick to get it done for the Kings. The Kings are 7-1-1 at the moment and they want to keep that great start going. On the other hand, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals visit McDavid and the Oilers. Once again, a great match up between two absolutely iconic players with their own extreme determination to win. I’m excited for these games and you should be too.