Penguins eye three-peat as NHL season begins Wednesday

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

The puck drops on the NHL season Wednesday. Here are the top storylines heading into the 2017-18 campaign:

Penguins seeking three-peat (Caps too)

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins can be the first NHL team to win three straight Stanley Cups since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983.

The Penguins could be the first team in any of the four major North American pro sports to win three straight championships since Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000 to 2002.

At 7-1, the Penguins are currently the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season, according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

The Washington Capitals have won back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies and could be the first team to win the award in three straight seasons, since the trophy was first awarded in the 1985-86 season.

Of course, the Capitals were ousted in the second round of the playoffs by the Penguins in each of the past two seasons. Washington has not won a Stanley Cup in franchise history, losing its only final to Detroit in 1997-98.

How unprecedented is it for the Capitals to be this good in the regular season and not win a championship? In NHL history, 17 teams have finished a season with 118 or more points. Three of those did not win the Stanley Cup either that season, or in the season before or after: the 2009-10 Capitals, 2015-16 Capitals and 2016-17 Capitals.

Can McDavid lead Oilers to Cup?

The second betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season is the Edmonton Oilers at 8-1.

The buzz around the Oilers starts with Connor McDavid, who led the NHL with 100 points last season en route to winning the Hart Trophy.

McDavid, who turns 21 in January, could become the second player in NHL history to win multiple Hart Trophies before turning 22 years old, joining Wayne Gretzky, who won three before his 22nd birthday.

The Oilers were one of five Canadian teams to make the playoffs last season after none of the seven made the postseason in 2015-16. A Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.

Viva Las Vegas

The Vegas Golden Knights will make their NHL debut on Friday and will host their first NHL game on Oct. 10 against the Arizona Coyotes. They are the league's first expansion team since 2000, when the Wild and the Blue Jackets entered.

The Golden Knights are the 10th expansion team added by the NHL since 1991. The nine other teams have combined for one Stanley Cup title (Lightning in 2003-04).

Chasing History

If Jaromir Jagr rejoins the league for a season, he'll need to play 57 games to break Gordie Howe’s NHL record for most career games.

Alex Ovechkin is 42 goals away from becoming the 20th player in NHL history to reach 600 career goals. He's scored at least 42 goals in eight of his 12 NHL seasons.

If Ovechkin does reach the milestone this season, he would be the third player in NHL history to score 600 goals in his first 13 seasons, joining Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.