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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The NHL is Back and the Competition is Promising

Highly+touted+prospect+Connor+Beard+has+four+points+in+his+first+six+games.
AP Photo / David Zalubowski
Highly touted prospect Connor Beard has four points in his first six games.

Hockey is back, folks. The NHL started its 2023-24 season on Oct. 10, and with a little over a week of puck under our belts, here are some of the things that you need to know as the season kicks into gear. 

First off, it would be remiss to write an article about the 23-24 season without any mention of Connor Bedard. The eighteen-year-old phenom from Vancouver has been in the spotlight since his days in the juniors with the Regina Pats. Bedard was selected first overall in this year’s draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, who were looking for a generational talent to pick up the mantle of legendary winger Patrick Kane and revive the storied franchise to its old heights.

Bedard is already drawing comparisons to Kane with his incredibly deceptive shot release that makes him a goalie’s worst nightmare on the breakaway. Through six games, the rookie center has tallied a solid four total points off of two goals and two assists, but the more impressive thing to observe is the way his presence on the ice seems to elevate those around him. Bedard’s hockey IQ is unparalleled for somebody of his age and stage in his career, and his ability as a playmaker – something not easily measured by stat lines – is what the Blackhawks are truly counting on to make them a playoff contender. 

Speaking of playoff contenders, the Edmonton Oilers are hoping that this is finally the year where they break through and win the Stanley Cup. They entered this season as narrow favorites to win it all. And after being thwarted in the late rounds of the playoffs for the past two years, the Oilers are feeling the pressure to deliver to a fanbase that has had their weighty expectations crushed by the Golden Knights time and time again.

Of course, the headliners for the Oilers are stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are already slated in the annals of NHL history as one of the best attacking duos of all time. The Oilers have a great supporting cast on offense, but their defense and goalkeeping are going to be the factor that writes the story for their season. Defense has been an issue for the Oilers in the past. During their series versus Vegas last year in the playoffs, the Golden Knights took advantage of breakdowns in the Oilers’ man coverage defense game plan to capitalize on breakaways. Head Coach Jay Woodcroft is going to have to work together with the rest of the coaching staff to draw up a different defensive playbook this year with one that takes more pressure off of the individual players and emphasizes a speedy counterattack.

The Vegas Golden Knights and Boston Bruins are two teams who are also legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Both teams have started off the season undefeated, and each has a particular strength that makes them uniquely dangerous in the eyes of their opponents. For the Golden Knights, it is depth. The team has benefited greatly from the NHL’s supportive guidelines towards expansion teams, and they’ve built themselves into a team that is stacked with talent deep into its third and fourth lines. The team is fronted by big names like goalie Adin Hill, winger Jonathan Marchessault and center Jack Eichel, but the true brilliance of the team lies in the lesser known names like Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud and Alex Pietrangelo. All of them are incredibly talented players in their own right who can come off the bench and make a big impact on the game. 

The Bruins are looking to avenge their heartbreaking first round exit in last year’s playoffs after breaking the record for regular season wins last year. With a roster stacked with names like David Pasternak, Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm and the top goalie tandem of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, for the Bruins, their key to success is the simple matter of keeping their regular season momentum going into the playoffs. The loss of legendary centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will be felt, but this Bruins team has shown time and again that they are the team to beat in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Just like the Oilers, they will be moving through the season with a chip on their shoulder. 

The margin between perennial title contenders like the Golden Knights, Bruins, Oilers, Devils, Hurricanes, Avalanche and Maple Leafs and the smaller scrappier teams, that are always in the mix for playoff contention, is smaller than ever. New faces are on the scene that promise to make their impact known league-wide. It’s looking to be another phenomenal year of hockey.

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About the Contributor
Richie Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor
Richie Rosen is a sophomore from Los Angeles, CA concentrating on economics with a minor in political science. He has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary, Baker's Dozen, and Sports sections. On campus, Richie is involved in the Colgate Investment Club, the Ski Club, and a greek letter organization. 

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