Inside The Box: Hockey is Back! 2020-21 NHL Season Opener Special

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Inside The Box is Puck Prose’s brand new daily bulletin, covering all the latest news in the NHL and highlighting the content you need in your lives.

Hockey is back! Yes, the 2020-21 NHL Season starts tonight and we are all in for absolutely all of it.

Actually, the season has already started with the Pittsburgh Penguins currently taking on rivals the Philadelphia Flyers in the first game of the new season.

However, there are also four other games to look forward to tonight and, as such, we’re going to quickly look at each matchup to get you set for the night!

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers

So, this game is currently ongoing but, what we will do instead is share this Sidney Crosby goal because it was something special. Yes, it came from a Carter Hart mistake but that hand-eye coordination is just something special.

Look for yourself:

What is it they say? There are four certainties in life; life, death, taxes and Sidney Crosby doing Sidney Crosby things. Just the 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in season openers for Crosby, by the way.

Scotiabank Arena
Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs

From Joe Thornton’s debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Montreal Canadiens bulking up during the offseason, this is going to be a mouthwatering first of 10 games between these two Original Six franchises.

Both teams should be battling for supremacy in the North Division, and I wouldn’t be surprised if both actually make deep postseason runs in 2020-21. Yes, I went there.

But tonight’s game will feature so much intrigue: will Joe Thornton skate on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner? Will the Maple Leafs’ efforts to get tougher to play against pay off? Will Alexander Romanov make his NHL debut for the Canadiens? Will this Montreal team live up to all the offseason hype?

It should be one hell of a matchup and it should give us an early taste of what to expect from the two juggernauts of the North Division.

Steven Stamkos (91)
Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Chicago Blackhawks @ Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning will raise their 2019-20 Stanley Cup banner tonight, albeit in an empty arena, while the Chicago Blackhawks usher in a new era as they skate in their first game since announcing a rebuild.

However, the storyline I’m most looking forward to in this game is seeing a fully-healthy Steven Stamkos in the lineup for the Lightning. After playing less than 3 minutes in the entire 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, although he did score THAT goal against the Dallas Stars in Game 3, Stamkos underwent surgery again and is now fully mended – we hope.

He has looked sharp in Training Camp and with superstar Nikita Kucherov out for the entire 2020-21 regular-season, the onus will be on Stamkos to get back to the peak of his powers and really guide this loaded Tampa Bay team through a condensed 56-game schedule.

After recording 98 points (45 G, 53 A) just two years ago, Steven Stamkos still has the ability to be one of the most deadliest offensive threats in the NHL, and it will be a lot of fun to see the Tampa Bay Lightning in full flow on Opening Night with hopefully his injury hell firmly behind him.

Bo Horvat (53)
Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers

Another North Division showdown and this one will have a lot of speed and a lot of talent on display, which we absolutely love. Connor McDavid against Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat against Leon Draisaitl, Tyson Barrie against Quinn Hughes – it is going to be a fun matchup.

I see the Canucks and the Oilers, along with the Calgary Flames, in the category below the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, so these 10 games against each other will go a long way in deciding who makes the postseason and who doesn’t.

After all, only four teams from each Division will make the cut and I do like both the Canucks and the Oilers, although I think Vancouver has more talent and more depth throughout their lineup, while they certainly have the edge in net with Thatcher Demko and Braden Holtby. While tonight  is just one game, every game will be extra important this season due to the condensed schedule and, as such, it should add extra spice to what is already going to be a feisty and explosive showdown.

Nazem Kadri (91)
Nazem Kadri #91 of the Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

St. Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche

Did the NHL save the best to last? Perhaps. After all, the Colorado Avalanche are an absolute juggernaut and, along with the Vegas Golden Knights, will be one of the Stanley Cup favorites this year. The St. Louis Blues will still consider their Stanley Cup window open, however, and these battles in the West Division will be fascinating to watch.

Tonight’s game will be intriguing just to see if Blues goalie Jordan Binnington has recovered from his nightmare postseason yet, while anytime we get a chance to see Nathan MacKinnon show his magic on the ice is always worth celebrating. It will be between the Blues, the Avs and the Vegas Golden Knights for the West Division, and it all starts tonight.

Other Content

Want a lowdown on each team ahead of the 2020-21 NHL Season? We have you covered with our Four Questions for every team series…

Three Stars

Let’s take a quick look at the Three Stars of the Day in the NHL…

  • First Star – Mark Stone was named as the first Captain in franchise history of the Vegas Golden Knights earlier today, and it was a home run of a choice. Stone is just the perfect hockey player and his play and the way he carries himself just screams leader.
  • Second Star – Sticking with Captains, Dylan Larkin was announced as the 37th Captain in franchise history of the Detroit Red Wings today. Raised in the Detroit area, Larkin knows what it takes to represent this storied franchise and he will now be tasked with ushering in a new era of hockey for the Red Wings.
  • Third Star – Let’s give stick taps to the NHL here. We are here and the 2020-21 season is officially underway. Yes, there have already been some problems with the Dallas Stars having their season delayed due to a COVID-19 outbreak, while other teams have had facilities shut down. However, this is the reality in a non-bubble world and the NHL will be prepared to deal with whatever is thrown their way in what will be a wild season.

Next. Pittsburgh Penguins 2021 Projections. dark

That’s it for today’s Inside The Box but, with a plethora of games on the schedule on Thursday, we will have not one, but TWO Inside The Box bulletins for you tomorrow, so stay tuned!