Preseason is both the best and the absolute worst for a myriad of reasons.
It’s the best because hockey is finally back, and even those of us who take much-needed vacations are usually starting to get pretty antsy for some action about this time of year. It’s a chance to see prospects that get hidden away in places like Newfoundland and Hamilton, Ontario during the regular season, a chance to see some inevitable hilarious gaffes, and a chance to make some insanely fun predictions.
Of course, it’s also the worst because it’s a grueling training camp schedule, with hours upon hours of meaningless drills for beat reporters who don’t want to shell out for childcare when they’ll get maybe half a story from the entire week. It’s rusty play and terrible officiating and inevitably blown goal announcements by the in-game talent as they await their new eye prescriptions and learn new numbers.
Oh, and it’s entire games of NHL talent vs. AHL talent, which either means un-fun massacres you have to witness or bizarre lucks of the draw that send fanbases into a tailspin.
We’ve already seen a little bit of it all this preseason.
Max Domi lost his god-fearing mind in Montreal and sucker-punched an opponent in a game that doesn’t matter. His trade counterpart, Alex Galchenyuk, scored two goals in his Arizona Coyotes preseason home debut and has been out with an injury ever since. The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled a living nightmare (that all of our kids seem to actually love a lot, whatever that says about them), and Elias Pettersson has already given false hope to an entire legion of Vancouver fans.
Oh, and Cam Ward did this:
Cam Ward's faced two shots so far and they've both gone in pic.twitter.com/tMhWhnKseV— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) September 26, 2018
If Carolina fans thought they had it rough, just wait until they see how Chicago Blackhawks faithfuls react to this kind of performance in games that count!
The Colorado Avalanche have meanwhile remained somewhat under the radar through the preseason, partially because they’ve been pretty bad and partially because they’ve only played three games in the face of teams that have already skated out as many as six times.
In the quiet, though, rookie and 2018 draft selection Martin Kaut has been quietly but steadily improving, and the team could see that work to their advantage this coming year. [Mile High Hockey]
Speaking of prospects, this is a pretty awesome story on how London Knights coach Mark Hunter has managed to produce so much top talent over the last decade and change. [NHL.com]
And in more young hockey player news, here’s the video that should make you cry pretty heavily (so if you’re reading this at your desk right now, just know that you’ve been warned):
.@Laframboise22 pointed to the heavens in honor of his friend Logan Schatz, who passed away in the Humboldt Broncos accident, after netting the game winner for @lakeheaduhockey. #HumboldtStrong— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) September 25, 2018
(via @shaynepasquino) pic.twitter.com/rHdm4f5bUg
I don’t think I’ve gotten that choked up by a goal celebration since Matt Stajan did the same thing on a penalty shot against Viktor Fasth just a few weeks after losing his infant son in 2014.
Anyways, here’s our last heartbreaker of the morning, a look at Malcolm Subban’s 2018-19 mask for the Vegas Golden Knights. After getting a special lid done to honor the victims of the Vegas shootings at the start of the season, it appears he’ll center his mask’s theme around their memories for yet another season:
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Malcolm Subban knew was he wanted on his new Vegas mask ❤️. He wanted Vegas Strong to continue be the main theme of his new masks, just as on his previous Vegas masks we created a year ago⚔️. We brainstormed together how to build the new designs and we came up with a plan❤️. Malcolm wanted the Vegas helmet big on each sides and I loved it. The design has one look on a distance, and when you come closer the storytelling kicks in . Thanks Malcolm, always so exciting to work with you! #subban @vegasgoldenknights @daveart #nhl #DaveArtTheCradleOfCreativity
Circling back to the Avalanche, here’s a clip for those of you with headphones or a place to play a video. Nathan MacKinnon talked with TSN about confidence, which is what he credits as the driving force behind his successful year this past season. [TSN]
Finally, we’ll end on a high note.
The Carolina Hurricanes got a lot cooler on Tuesday, when it was confirmed that Boston legend and overall badass Sara Civian has joined the beat for The Athletic. She’ll become one of a handful of female leads on the beat around the league, and it couldn’t be happening for a better person.
Of course, then the team one-upped that news with an even bigger gem. I think their tweet speaks for itself:
If this doesn’t make you want to bump Freek-a-Leek on your afternoon commute later, I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to help you.
Keep your eyes out for the pregame notes in a few hours, as the Avalanche will host the Dallas Stars in an attempt to take home yet another preseason win. After struggling out of the gate, a moral-boosting victory against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week will hopefully give the team the confidence they need to assert themselves against a divisional rival at The Can.