The last NHL game that counted was Sunday, June 26 when the Colorado Avalanche won 2-1 at the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001 and end the Bolts' three-peat chances. The 2022-23 season opens today (2 p.m. ET) in Prague when the San Jose Sharks take on the Nashville Predators as part of the Global Series. The teams will play again Saturday. Colorado is the clear-cut +400 favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to repeat as Stanley Cup champion but is not in action for a few days like the rest of the league.
As far as today's game is concerned, the Predators are -200 favorites and they were 3-0 vs. the Sharks last season, outscoring them 12-1. Even though the Sharks are the "road" team they probably will be the fan favorites as one of the team's best players, Tomas Hertl, was born and raised in Prague and played for Slavia Praha HC from 2010-13. The Sharks also have defenseman Radim Simek, who was born in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic. Nashville has no Czech players.
The Predators finished with 97 points last season and made the playoffs, losing in the first round to Colorado. They are set for 96.5 points this year. San Jose finished with 77 points and way out of the playoff mix and is set at 75.5 points.
To no surprise, Juuse Saros is net for Nashville after going 38-25-3 with a 2.64 GAA and a .918 save percentage in 2021-22. He was in net for all three Sharks games, allowing one goal on 75 shots. James Reimer gets the call for San Jose, and he was 19-17-10 with a 2.90 GAA and a .911 save percentage last year. San Jose is without one top-six forward in Alexander Barabanov (10 goals, 29 assists) due to injury. The Preds are healthy.
The official opening night in North America is on Tuesday (there are still preseason games all weekend) when Tampa Bay visits the New York Rangers in a rematch of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals and Vegas takes on Los Angeles. It's a bit rare that the defending champion Avalanche aren't featured on opening night. They will hang their Stanley Cup banner on Wednesday vs. Chicago.
Colorado does not look as good on paper as it did last year. Largely for salary cap reasons, the team said goodbye to No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper (37-12-4, 2.54 GAA) and forwards Nazem Kadri (87 points) and Andre Burakovsky (61 points). Pavel Francouz, who played well when Kuemper was hurt, and trade acquisition Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers are the new goalie tandem.
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