2019-20 NHL SEASON OPENS WITH DOUBLEHEADER IN U.S. AND CANADA
The 102nd opening night in League history features a national doubleheader in both the U.S. and Canada as eight teams drop the puck on the 2019-20 NHL season Wednesday:
* 2019-20 Season Preview
* NHL Season Openers Facts
* 2019-20 Season-Opening Information
BLUES TO RAISE BANNER, BEGIN DEFENSE OF STANLEY CUP
For the first time in the franchise’s 52-season history, the Blues will open a campaign as defending Stanley Cup champions when they host the Capitals on a banner-raising night at Enterprise Center.
* On the ice, St. Louis will look almost identical to the team that captured Lord Stanley’s Cup in June as 18 of the 20 players who dressed for the Cup-clinching Game 7 remain with the club. Defenseman Joel Edmundson (CAR) and forward Patrick Maroon (TBL) are the only players who appeared in the deciding contest that are no longer with the team.
* Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has 10-7—17 in 14 career season-opening games, registering at least one point in nine of those 14 games – including six with at least one goal. Ovechkin, who sits 42 goals shy of 700 in his career, has one season-opening hat trick to his credit (Oct. 5, 2017 at OTT).
TORONTO, OTTAWA SET TO CLASH IN LATEST ‘BATTLE OF ONTARIO’
The first game of the 2019-20 NHL season features the Maple Leafs welcoming the Senators to Scotiabank Arena, marking the 121st all-time regular-season meeting between the franchises and sixth in each club’s season opener.
* Ottawa owns a 5-0-0 record in its five previous mutual season-opening games vs. Toronto, including four decided by a one-goal margin (with three requiring overtime). The Senators are one of two teams in NHL history without a loss of any kind in mutual season-opening games against a single opponent (min. 5 GP; also PIT: 6-0-0 vs. WSH).
* Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has scored at least one goal in all three season-opening games of his career (7-2—9), including a historic four-goal NHL debut in Ottawa on Oct. 12, 2016. His seven career goals in season-opening games are three shy of the most among active players – despite large differences in games played – and tied for third-most in season-opening games in Toronto franchise history (Babe Dye: 9 G in 5 GP; Darryl Sittler: 8 G in 12 GP; Charlie Conacher: 7 G in 8 GP; and Mats Sundin: 7 G in 13 GP).
CANUCKS, PETTERSSON AND MCDAVID EYE ANOTHER STRONG START
The Canucks visit Rogers Place to take on the Oilers as each club vies for a playoff return in 2019-20. Vancouver is 5-0-0 in its last five season-opening games dating to 2014-15, tied with Tampa Bay for the longest active such run in the NHL.
* Two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid (41-76—116 in 78 GP) and reigning Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson (28-38—66 in 71 GP) each led their club in scoring last season and aim to continue their success into 2019-20.
* Pettersson led NHL rookies in goals, assists and points in 2018-19 (28-38—66 in 71 GP) – including multiple points in each of his first two NHL games – and now can become the fourth player in franchise history to record at least 75 points before age 21.
* Eyeing his fourth consecutive 100-point campaign, McDavid aims to post his fourth straight season-opening contest with multiple points (5-3—8 in 3 GP). In 2018-19, McDavid became the first player in NHL history to record a point on nine consecutive team goals to begin a season.
SHARKS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS SET TO RENEW RIVALRY
On the heels of their seven-game First Round series in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Sharks and Golden Knights open 2019-20 in a home-and-home set. The contest is expected to feature Marc-Andre Fleury, who shares the active lead with nine career wins in season-opening games, and Joe Thornton, who enters his 22nd season chasing a number of milestones.
* Vegas will become the fourth team in NHL history to contest nine or more consecutive regular-season/playoff games against one opponent. The other instances were Colorado vs. Minnesota (7 in 2014 Playoffs, 2 in 2014-15), Ottawa vs. Toronto (7 in 2004 Playoffs, 2 in 2005-06) and Toronto vs. Detroit (3 in 1942-43, 6 in 1943 Playoffs).
* Vegas begins its first full season with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny, all additions since the end of their inaugural campaign. Vegas is 10-3-0 in 13 regular-season games with all three players in the lineup, with the trio combining for 14-19—33 – two points more than they had in seven playoff games together last spring (13-18—31).
FIRST CROP OF NEW HEAD COACHES SET TO DEBUT
Two of the seven new head coaches will make their regular season debut tonight:
* D.J. Smith (OTT) will make his NHL head-coaching debut tonight at Scotiabank Arena, where he spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with Toronto. Smith aims to become the first to win his NHL head-coaching debut with the franchise and just the sixth to win his first game as Senators head coach – Rick Bowness (1992-93), Roger Neilson (2001-02), Bryan Murray (2005-06), John Paddock (2007-08) and Guy Boucher (2016-17) all did so. Neilson served as Senators head coach for two games from April 11-13, 2002 (1-1-0) to hit the 1,000-game mark in his career.
* Dave Tippett (EDM) is 8-4-2 in 14 career season-opening games. He can become the eighth head coach in franchise history to win his team debut – and sixth to do so in a season-opening game (John Muckler in 1989-90; George Burnett in 1994-95; Craig MacTavish in 2000-01; Tom Renney in 2010-11; and Ralph Krueger in 2012-13).