3 NHL Opening Night Storylines: Bedard Debuts Against Crosby


Oct 10, 2023

The 2023 NHL regular season kicks off with three matchups. The headline of the evening will feature Connor Bedard’s Chicago Blackhawk debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins

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How to Watch NHL Opening Night

1. Sidney Crosby Passes Torch to Connor Bedard

Marketing has largely been an issue for the NHL in terms of growing the game, but they won’t need to search hard to find an angle on opening night. After being selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL draft, Connor Bedard is set to make his much-anticipated debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Opposing Bedard in his NHL debut will be Sidney Crosby, who was the first overall pick by the Pens in the 2005 NHL draft.

They certainly got it right if this is the NHL’s version of a passing-the-torch moment. Crosby and the Pens may still be in win-now mode, but there are a lot of similarities in how he and Bedard conduct themselves. Connor McDavid has taken over as the face of hockey, but Bedard is going to give him a run for his money over the next decade. 

2. Can the Lightning Still Win?

There are a lot of question marks heading into the 2023 campaign for the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re set to open the season against the Nashville Predators, and the typical buzz surrounding them just isn’t there. If you’re the Lightning, you have to like that extra added-on motivation that many pundits are already counting them out of the Stanley Cup picture. 

Star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to miss the first two months of the regular season, meaning they’re beginning the year with a relatively unproven tandem. The Lightning have been able to coast at times during the regular season over their dynastic run, but this critical injury could give them a newfound focus early on. With an early playoff exit last season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, this group had an entire offseason for the first time in recent memory, which could pay dividends. 

3. Will the Golden Knights go Back-to-Back?

The Vegas Golden Knights are coming off their first Stanley Cup victory, knocking off the Florida Panthers in five games. They’re set to raise their Stanley Cup banner later tonight, and there’s good reason to still be bullish about this group heading into 2023. The Golden Knights roster looks the part of a Stanley Cup contender, but this team’s health will ultimately play a significant factor in whether they can repeat. Multiple players on this roster have had the injury bug bite them throughout their careers, and for them to go back-to-back, they’ll need their stars to stay on the ice.

The Golden Knights are a deep team up front and are led by one of the best defenses in the NHL. There’s a lot to like about this group, and there’s a reason their odds continue to hover around the top five in the race for the 2023 Stanley Cup. Opening night features the NHL’s two recent expansion teams colliding, with the Golden Knights hosting the Seattle Kraken

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Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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