Thirteen days, kiddos! That’s how long we have until the NHL season finally, finally kicks off with a heart-stopping season opener where the mighty Toronto Maple Leafs play host to ... *checks schedule* oh, um .... the Ottawa Senators. *Nervously maintains smile*
Whatever! Poor choice of lead-off match-up aside, the real live hockey is so dang close it’s making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. In the meantime, there’s preseason, and while the substitute stuff may not feel all that great, a few highlights here and there are a perfect appetizer to the hardcore puck stuff going down in two weeks.
In one of eight superficially meaningless but spiritually fulfilling games from Wednesday night, the Devils took on the Rangers and won, 4-3. Devils rookie Jack Hughes didn’t play after scoring a brace in his preseason debut, but new Rangers arrivals Kaapo Kakko and Jacob Trouba connected with Artemi Panarin for a goal, feeding into New York’s optimism that this year could be much different than last. Most importantly, however, for everyone sane who’s not reading anything into preseason results, Devils prospect Mikhail Maltsev intercepted the puck in the Rangers’ zone and confidently skated in on Alexandar Georgiev. Though he fell to his knees and had little time to think about how to put the biscuit past the Rangers goalie, Maltsev’s move to his backhand deeply disoriented Georgiev, and created a goal that immediately made him a known commodity in the NHL.
It feels good to stretch those hockey highlight muscles, doesn’t it? Only 1,155,840 seconds until the real thing is here.