Welcome to NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on each day. Today, their choices from three games on Friday.
Wild ready to roll
I’m curious to see how the Minnesota Wild perform this season, starting with their opener against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, NHL LIVE). I specifically want to see how forward Kirill Kaprizov responds after winning the Calder Trophy voted as the NHL rookie of the year last season, when he scored 51 points (27 goals, 24 assists) in 55 games. He looked good during the preseason with forward Mats Zuccarello, who was third on the Wild in scoring last season with 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) in 42 games, and they could prove to be a dynamic duo. Minnesota is back in the Central Division, which is once again expected to be competitive. A good start will be key. — Tracey Myers, staff writer
Hamilton, Graves set for Devils debut
Hope springs eternal for the New Jersey Devils, who open their season at home against the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m. ET, NHLN, TVAS, MSG+, NBCSCH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). After a 29th-place finish last season, the Devils signed defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a seven-year, $63 million contract. Hamilton is expected to provide a boost on the blue line, along with newcomer Ryan Graves and second-year pro Ty Smith. New Jersey should also be improved on special teams; it ranked 28th on the power-play (14.2 percent) last season and 31st on the penalty kill (71.0 percent). The Blackhawks lost 4-2 at the Colorado Avalanche in their season opener Wednesday, when goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves but allowed three goals in 9:34 during the first period of his Chicago debut. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 24-25-5 in 54 games against the Devils. — Dave Stubbs, columnist
Two defensemen could debut for Flyers
We’ll get a look at some new defensemen for the Philadelphia Flyers when they host the Vancouver Canucks at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; SN1, NBCSP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Ryan Ellis (lower body) and Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body) have missed practices this week, reportedly because the Flyers season opener wasn’t until Friday and they could afford to be cautious with nagging injuries. Each is expected to play and make a big impact for Philadelphia this season. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson already has made an impact for the Canucks by scoring in their season opener, a 3-2 shootout loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist
Chicago Blackhawks at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, TVAS, MSG+, NBCSCH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Dougie Hamilton will make his Devils debut after the defenseman signed as a free agent. It’s the first of five straight home games for New Jersey. The Blackhawks look to rebound after opening the season with a 4-2 loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. Jonathan Toews played 17:15 and won 16 of 24 face-offs in his first regular-season game since March 11, 2020.
Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; SN1, NBCSP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle, who signed as a free agent, enters this season having played 922 consecutive regular-season games, 43 away from breaking the NHL record of 964 set by forward Doug Jarvis from 1975-87. The Canucks, who lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, are playing the second game of a six-game road trip.
Minnesota Wild at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, NHL LIVE)
Ducks forward Mason McTavish scored and had an assist in his NHL debut when they defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 on Wednesday. Alex Goligoski, a native of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, makes his Wild debut after the defenseman signed as a free agent.