By: Andrew Utz ~Staff Writer~
With a little more than a week left until the National Hockey League (NHL) season officially begins, Xavier students are strapping on their skates in preparation.
The season begins Oct. 8, with the Montreal Canadiens taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.
The Columbus Blue Jackets start on Oct. 9, going to Buffalo, to play the Sabres. The Blue Jackets went 43-32 last season and were knocked out in the first round as a wildcard team.
The Blue Jackets have started their preseason with a 3-1 record, displaying a depth of players that can score.
However, each game has come with a cost. Columbus has a 12-9 total score over the last four games, meaning holes need to be patched in the defense before the season officially begins.
Center Ryan Johansen led the team with 33 goals last season and is predicted to have just as successful of a season as the new season approaches.
The talented Canadian is on the free agency list as well, and Columbus has yet to make a move to reclaim their star scorer.
The Chicago Blackhawks have also had a rough preseason so far with a 2-2 record. Their opening game is Oct. 9 against the Dallas Stars.
The Hawks didn’t spend much in the transfer market this summer, only acquiring veteran center Brad Richards from the New York Rangers to lead one line.
The Blackhawks are fairly set, with a tested defensive line and multiple forwards.
The Hawks have many star players in roles and adding depth to every line.
In Detroit, Red Wings fans are looking forward to a better season than last. Veterans and younger players alike are the core of the team, but they have not been able to play with each other for long to build chemistry.
Many older players were injured after the break for the Olympics and enthusiastic rookies led the team for the rest of the season.
The Red Wings also did little in the transfer period, acquiring only two players. They have a 2-2 record so far in the preseason.
After hiring a new coach and general manager, the Pittsburg Penguins are looking to improve upon last season.
Sidney Crosby is trying to bounce back from injury and has yet to play. Crosby has been somewhat absent from hockey conversation having struggled with many injuries.
The Penguins are 3-1 in the preseason and are set to start on Oct. 9 against the Anaheim Ducks.
This NHL season should prove to be an exciting one, with teams shuffling their decks and testing players before the official start of the season.