NHL On Tap: Kraken begin inaugural season


Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the two games Tuesday.

And then there were 32

The Seattle Kraken will play their first regular-season game as the 32nd team in the NHL when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS), the previous expansion team that reached the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season and have been perennial contenders since. Seattle has borrowed a page from Vegas’ expansion playbook by building a strong team defensively. Vegas was eighth in the NHL allowing 2.74 goals per game in 2017-18. The Kraken hope to emulate that success, led by defenseman Mark Giordano, the 2019 Norris Trophy winner voted as the best in the NHL at the position, who was named Seattle’s first captain Monday. The Golden Knights had strong goaltending in their first season with Marc-Andre Fleury. The Kraken signed goalie Philipp Grubauer to a six-year, $35.4 million contract ($5.9 million average annual value) on July 28 and selected Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers in the NHL Expansion Draft. — William Douglas, staff writer

Lightning three-peat attempt begins

The Tampa Bay Lightning will raise the banner for their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship prior to hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS). Then the work begins for the Lightning, who will try to be the first team to win three NHL championships in a row since the New York Islanders won four straight in 1980-83. It won’t be easy. The NHL is back to an 82-game regular-season schedule and the Lightning haven’t had much time to recuperate after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on July 7. They’ve also lost several key players, including forwards Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Tyler Johnson. Sure, it’s just one game, but the Lightning will get an early glimpse how new additions, including forwards Corey Perry and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, will fit. — Tracey Myers, staff writer

Challenges ahead for Golden Knights, Penguins

The Vegas Golden Knights begin a Stanley Cup or bust season without a true No. 1 center, counting on a change of scenery to spark forward Nolan Patrick to help fill that role. They also have Robin Lehner as the full-time starting goalie after reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 27 to clear space under the NHL salary cap. While the Golden Knights are the projected class of the Pacific Division, playing in the competitive Metropolitan Division could spell the end of 15 consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff appearances for the Penguins, the longest active run in the NHL. They come off three straight postseason eliminations in the opening round, are without top center Sidney Crosby (wrist surgery) for at least the first two games and second-line center Evgeni Malkin (knee surgery) for at least two months and have questions in goal after Tristan Jarry had a 3.18 goals-against average and .888 save percentage during a six-game loss to the Islanders in the Stanley Cup First Round. — Jon Lane, staff writer

Tuesday schedule

Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS)

A win against the Penguins would make the Lightning the sixth team in NHL history to win at least eight consecutive season openers. They own the longest active winning streak in openers (7-0-0) and the best points percentage (minimum 10 games), going 19-7-2 (.714) in 28 games. Pittsburgh forward Jeff Carter is one goal from 400 in the NHL. 

Seattle Kraken at Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS)

NHL expansion teams are 7-16-3 in their first regular-season game since 1967-68, with the Golden Knights the only one in the past 28 years with a season-opening victory (2-1 at the Dallas Stars on Oct. 6, 2017). Vegas forward William Karlsson is four goals from becoming the first player in team history with 100. Seattle will be without forwards Colin Blackwell, Joonas Donskoi, Yanni Gourde, Calle Jarnkrok and Jared McCann, and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to start the season.

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