Through the blue and white glasses, six NHL teams look more interesting than the others.
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- Eyes are focused on Colorado, Columbus, Nashville, Dallas, Carolina and Florida.
- Colorado and Columbus will visit Tampere in November.
The 2022–23 NHL season kicked off on Friday evening in Prague.
Nashville Predators beat San Jose Sharks 4–1, and Nashville’s Finnish attackers Eeli Tolvanen (1+0) and Mikael Granlund (0+1) got to work right away.
The teams will clash again on Saturday. In North America, the games start next week.
80 Finnish players are aiming for a place in the game, and about 30 of them are part of the standard lineup. Last season, 62 Finnish players were seen on NHL ice, 11 of them goalkeepers.
The eyes of Finns who follow the NHL are fixed on the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, where Mikko Rantanen and Artturi Lehkonen play big roles.
Lehkonen scored the championship goal, and Rantanen was the best Finnish scorer last season both in the regular season (36+56=92) and in the playoffs (5+20=25).
Another interesting club for Finns is GM Jarmo Kekäläinen led by the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose ranks Patrick Laine played the first point-per-game season of his NHL career (56, 26+30=56).
Now Laine gets Kekäläinen’s mega capture alongside her Johnny Gaudreau, who with 115 points was last season’s stock market runner-up. Laine’s goal record (44) may be improved.
Colorado starts the season as the number one favorite, but even a playoff spot for Columbus would be a tough achievement. The teams will play against each other twice in November at Tampere’s Nokia Arena.
AOP, USA TODAY SPORTS
The most Finns play regularly in the ranks of the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers.
A Vezina candidate in Nashville’s goal Juuse Saros gets someone from Chicago as his compader Kevin Lankinen. The first chain is led by Granlund, and Tolva is expected to perform as well. The ones that top the display Juuso Pärssinen and Markus Nurmi.
The Finnish players bear the greatest joint responsibility for the success in Dallas, where the number one center (Roope Hintz) and the number one deck pair (Miro Heiskanen – Esa Lindell) are Finnish. The line-up also includes a defender Jani Hakanpää and the attacker Joel Kiviranta.
The dynamic skater Hintz forms Joe Pavelski and having signed an extension this week by Jason Robertson with one of the best chains in the league, and Heiskasen has the potential to compete for the Norris award for the best defender.
A pair of radars Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teräväinen leads the offense of Carolina, one of the top teams in the league, and you can expect more than 80 points from Aho again. Jesperi Kotkaniemi even the cloak of the second center may be arranged, and Antti Raanta is basically a second guard. Tuukka Tieksola and Anttoni Honka start their season at the farm.
Florida Captain Alexander Barkov was the second best Finnish scorer last season after scoring 88 points in only 67 games. Just a small setback and an intact season, and Barkov is even fighting to win the points market.
The middle lane of the team that collected the most points in the regular season last season is almost occupied by Finns, when the three leads Anton Lundell and out of four Eetu Luostarinen. Forwards also compete for an NHL spot in the organization Aleksi Heponiemi and Anton Levtchi and defender Santtu Kinnunen.