A to Z

Welcome to the Pregame Skate, a Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox

❤️Hart’s Homecoming: Carter Hart pitched a shutout last night, making what some are calling the save of the year during the Flyers home opener.

🦈Back to the Tank: Former Sharks captain Patrick Marleau is back in San Jose after signing a fresh one year deal. Marleau will be welcomed into the shark tank with open arms, especially as his squad looks to climb out of an 0-4 hole.

🏒ICYMI: Yesterday, NBC’s Today Show shared the story of two hockey players, Sawyer and Simon Seidl, who were born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Watch here.

A to Z

What’s Happening: The Rangers first two games went as many hoped they would following a summer signing period filled with key acquisitions like Jacob Trouba and Kaapo Kakko. Another new Blueshirt, Artemi Panarin, is helping lead a top line that also includes incumbent Rangers Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. The trio has been building chemistry since their preseason debut, and they’ve shot out of the gate with a combined 14 points through just two games.

Tell Me More: Mika Zibanejad registered an astonishing eight of those points, earning him the NHL’s first star of the week. The Swede became the first player since 1995 to gather more than seven points in the first two games, and he was able to do so with the help of his new Russian linemate, Artemi Panarin. Artemi to Zibanejad is a scoring combination Rangers fans hope to see more of as the season progresses.

Smells like Teen Spirit: Jeff Gorton didn’t get complacent after the 2-0 start, becoming the first NHL GM to make a significant trade this season. Gorton moved Vladislav Namestnikov and his $3.25 million AAV salary to the Ottawa Senators. The trade not only clears salary cap space, but it will also adds even more youth to the Rangers (they already have more players under 24 than any other team in the NHL). Filip Chytil, who registered 23 points last season, is the leading candidate to earn a call-up from the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack.

This weekend, the Rangers will be back in action following a week-long break. Kaapo Kakko, who has a -1 rating through his first two games, will look to net his first NHL goal against the Oilers on Saturday afternoon.

More on the Namestnikov trade…

The Neal Deal

What’s Happening: James Neal was cast aside in Calgary last year after under performing with just seven goals. This lack of production was especially surprising from a forward who had scored 20 or more goals in each of his first 10 years in the NHL. Neal seems to have a new lease on life in Edmonton, where he was traded this off-season, following a four goal outburst Tuesday against the Islanders.

Tell Me More: Neal has six goals so far this year, so it’s looking like he will surpass last season's total before we are halfway through October. What’s working? He’s converting on more of his scoring chances than last year when he had just a 5% shooting percentage. Oh, and playing with Connor McDavid doesn’t hurt.

Lucic’s Lackadaisical Start: Most analysts thought that Calgary won the trade for Neal, as they were able to add toughness with the addition of Milan Lucic. So far, Lucic is off to a point-less start through three games. The Flames have scored just nine goals total as a team so far this season.

Side Note: Edmonton is winning this trade right now, but it’s worth mentioning that the Flames receive a third round pick if Neal scores more than 20 goals.

Dig Deeper: James O’Brien, NBC Sports

Meet Jon Lee-Olson


What’s Happening: Jon Lee-Olson, a goalkeeper for the Rungsted Seier Capital, became the first professional hockey player to ever come out as gay, making the announcement during a live interview with a news channel in Denmark where his team is based. According to Outsports.com, the 27-year-old had this to say: “There’s a risk that some people might shout and heckle me while I’m playing matches. It’s something I have to be ready for, and be mature about. But I feel that I’m ready to show that you can be gay and play ice hockey. ”

Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller, who hails from Denmark, showed support for Lee-Olson, saying “It’s special. You might say that about any sport, but ice hockey has a very macho culture, so I think it must not have been an easy decision for him. It’s very brave.”

You might recall when we hosted Philadelphia Flyers forward Kurtis Gabriel for a live conference call this summer. Gabriel discussed using Pride Tape in an NHL game, and what the “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative means to him. Listen here.

One Game to Watch: Lightning vs. Leafs

When: Thursday, October 10th at 7 p.m. EST

Watch: SUN

The Matchup: This game pits last year’s top team against a Leafs squad with a lot of buzz, especially following a hot start from Auston Matthews. The Lightning last played on Sunday when they lost 4-3 in overtime to the Hurricanes. Steven Stamkos sent a message in the media after the Lightning were outshot 44-13 in the losing effort. Toronto is also coming off a loss, but theirs was a tight battle against the defending champion Blues. We think the Lightning respond to Stamkos’ comments and prove that they are still the team to beat in the east this year.

Players to Watch: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Kevin Shattenkirk.

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Vigneault’s Vision

Welcome to the Pregame Skate, a Five Minute Major Upgrade to Your Inbox

🍁Oh Captain My Captain: The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that John Tavares will wear the “C” this year. Oh, and Jason Spezza was a healthy scratch for their opener.

📸Lights, Camera, Action: The NHL regular season kicked off last night in thrilling fashion. Here’s the recap of games one, two, three and four of the 2019-2020 season.

Vigneault’s Vision


What’s Happening: After a year on the sidelines, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault is ready to lead a team with tons of promise. The off-season addition of Kevin Hayes in particular has title-starved Flyers fans believing this might be the year, but are they ready to compete with teams like the Capitals, Penguins, and Islanders in the competitive Metropolitan Division?

Tell Me More: Vigneault told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he wasn’t concerned with the past, but the truth of the matter is that it has been a rough go for the Flyers in recent years. Philly has missed the playoffs four out of the last seven years, and they’ve watched their bitter rival win three Stanley Cups in the last decade.

Vigneault’s vision for the Flyers is to be a fast paced, hard forechecking team that keeps their opponents on their heels. They’ve shown this in bits and pieces during the preseason, but a concerning loss to Lausanne HC prior to their season opener in Prague, Czech Republic on Friday displayed some of the team’s potential deficiencies.

Bottom Line: Carter Hart struggled in this game, and he wouldn’t be the first goalie to have a sophomore slump after jumping on the scene in his first year (which is why we will have our eye on Jordan Binnington this year). It’s great to see Vigneault and the Flyers heading in the right direction, but Flyers fans should practice patience, as this transformation could take a couple years.

Friday’s Global Series game in Prague means just a little bit more to Jake Voracek…

Next Question for Q

What’s Happening: Alain Vigneault wasn’t the only high profile bench boss who found a new home this summer. Three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville is all settled in South Beach—what can we expect from his Florida Panthers this season?

For starters, Sergei Bobrovsky should be a huge upgrade in goal after signing a massive ten year deal worth $70 million. Bob’s .913 save percentage last season was over a percentage and a half better than that of the four goalies who played for the Panthers.

Young Core: The Panthers have found a way develop an impressive group of talented players just hitting their prime. Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad will lead the way alongside veterans like Anton Stralman and Brett Connolly who GM Dale Tallon acquired over the summer.

The Bigger Picture: Watch out for the Panthers this year, especially considering the fact that they could be overshadowed by the Hurricanes, who gained a huge following last season.

Dig Deeper: Wells Dusenbury, South Florida Sun Sentinel

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

The Odds are in: According to the odds-makers at www.SportsBettingDime.com, the Lightning are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup at 9/1 odds. The Golden Knights are second at 11/1, while the last two Stanley Cup champions, the Blues and Capitals, are 37/2 and 45/2 respectively. The Flyers rank 21st in the league with 55/1 odds. 

Individual Odds: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Nikita Kucherov are the front-runners to take home the Hart Trophy, while Jack Hughes and Cale Makar are tied atop the Calder list at 7/1 odds. 

🔥 Sports Betting Dime even has odds for which NHL coach will be the first to get fired—the Wild’s Bruce Boudreau leads that coveted race with 7/1 odds. 

Track all the odds here

One Game to Watch: Jets vs. Rangers

When: Thursday, October 3rd, 7 p.m. EST

Watch: MSG Network

The Matchup: This matchup is the tale of two teams who had very different off-seasons. The Rangers followed up a successful draft by snagging free agents Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. The Jets, on the other hand, spent the summer in turmoil as they struggled to sign RFAs Patrick Laine and Kyle Connor. We’ve got the Rangers in this one in front of an excited Madison Square Garden crowd.

Players to Watch: Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor, Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko.

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