NHL 2022 Season Opener: New York Rangers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

NHL 2022 Season Opener: New York Rangers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

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NHL 2022 Season Opener: New York Rangers vs Tampa Bay Lightning

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Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rundown:

It’s an Eastern Conference matchup bringing back the two teams who faced off in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Rangers will host the Lightning at Madison Square Garden for the first game of their NHL season. A home opener for the ages for both fans to kick off a season which should be a great one for both teams. The Rangers and the Lightning are both poised for great seasons in a highly intense Eastern Conference. 

The Matchup

The last time these two teams went head to head was back on June 11th of 2022, in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning ousted the Rangers by a score of 2-1 in a very intense matchup. Both teams had astounding years last year. Tampa went back to the Stanley Cup Final for a third year in a row, especially after finishing third in their division. The Rangers had a fun run to the Conference Finals off the back of a Vezina winning season from Igor Shesterkin. Both teams this offseason didn’t upgrade their teams as much as others, but both look to make big strides. For Tampa, they want to still show they are a dominant championship contender again. For the Rangers, they are looking to capitalize after the momentum they gained last season and make another Conference Finals. During the preseason, the Lightning went 1-4-0, while the Rangers went 2-3-1. 

Players To Watch

The player to watch for the Rangers is Kappo Kakko. One of the big factors of the Rangers’ success in the playoffs, he played on the “Kid Line” which was a productive young line for the team. Kakko in the preseason notched three goals and is looking to have a breakout season for the team. According to dailyfaceoff.com, Kakko is set to play on the First Line alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. For a young player who has played 157 games and has scored only 56 points, Kakko should have a chip on his shoulder. Assuming he continues to play well and pot some goals, he could keep his place atop the roster. 

For the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nikita Kucherov is the main guy to watch. Kucherov is looking to come back with a vengeance as he played only 47 games last season. He scored only 25 goals last season, which is his second lowest total for a season since his rookie year where he scored only nine goals. Assuming he remains healthy, Kucherov will certainly be one of the most productive players in the league. At age 29, Kuch still has plenty of gas left in the tank as he is only two years removed from his Hart Trophy season where he notched 128 points.

My Prediction

To start the NHL season this should be a super fun matchup. Both teams have some of the best goaltenders in hockey and some high octane offenses. The Tampa Bay Lightning are overall a better team based on last season’s success and the depth of their roster. A game with a lot of shots on goal and speed, this game is going to be a 3-2 win for the Tampa Bay Lightning. A win that should set the record straight to start the season, and set their expectations high for how they want to perform this season.

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