All summer, we sat through the draft and free agency; we’ve suffered through the Kovalchuk debacle and it’s finally time to kick off some real hockey. Yes, it’s preseason, but the preseason is just a sign that the real thing is right around the corner.
9 games kick off the NHL preseason schedule tonight, including two split squad games between Calgary & Vancouver. The Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers take on the rival New Jersey Devils tonight in a rematch from last year’s first round (live on the NHL Network). Flyers fans get to see their first look at hyped goalie prospect Sergei Bobrovsky in his first NHL action since being signed by the club in March. The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (or what’s left of them) open their preseason tomorrow night in Winnipeg against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yesterday, the NHL announced that the NHL Network will show 35 preseason games, most of them in HD and half will be live.
Last week, teams started training camps, both for the rookies and veterans. One may find it odd that teams just started camp recently and are already playing games. In today’s NHL, players prepare during the summer and don’t need much time to get ready for the start of the season. Most guys come into camp in shape and ready to go.
For fans who didn’t get a chance to see their teams in training camp, they will be able to see new players and some prospects during preseason. Also, it gives veterans looking for jobs by a tryout an opportunity to make a roster. One of those guys is Bill Guerin, trying out with the Flyers. It looks like the Flyers are doing everything in their power to make sure that Guerin makes the team, giving him #9 (which was previously promised to Nik Zherdev) and moving his locker into the middle of the room. However, if Guerin makes the team, the Flyers will have to move someone, so training camp may decide who the odd man out is.
The road to the Stanley Cup begins tonight. Will your team be the last one standing?