As the NHL prepares to start its 105th season of play, fans will appreciate the return of normalcy. The NHL announced both an 82-game format as well as traditional division line-ups. There will be some surprises among teams and how they perform that could be a slap shot at last season’s results, though.

Montreal Canadiens

The Habs were the surprise of the 2020-2021 NHL post-season. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who predicted the team’s ability to navigate into last year’s Stanley Cup finals. The truth is, there will not be a repeat in the upcoming season.

Goaltender Carey Price played at another level, but a repeat performance can not carry a team that produced the 18th best record. Phillip Denault, Montreal’s shutdown center, has moved on with the Los Angeles Kings. Several other veteran players have moved on as well.

It is past midnight, and Cinderella has left the ball; sorry, Habs fans.

Los Angeles Kings

Speaking of the Kings, a return to traditional division and conference line-ups will benefit them. The expansion Kraken is an unknown commodity, while Vegas and perhaps Edmonton are the only teams better in the Pacific division.

The team did not lose any key players from last year and had the money to make some additions. Phillip Denault arrives from Montreal and will make an impact on the King’s lines. He becomes the defensive center for the franchise, allowing Anze Kopitar to be used aggressively on offense.

After the struggles of recent seasons, Kings fans might find themselves enjoying playoff hockey once again.

Dallas Stars

Those counting the Stars out of this season’s playoff races are overlooking a couple of things. Last year, the team played fewer games than other teams because COVID-19 decimated the club’s players. The team also lost goalie Ben Bishop and center Tyler Seguin.

Dallas gets Seguin back, and the addition of goalie Branden Holtby shores up the position. The Stars have depth, especially on defense.

Last year, nothing went right for the franchise. In 2021-2022, the Dallas Stars look to return to better play. Fans hope this is the year as lost opportunity sits on the horizon for the current Stars’ roster.