We know Gritty is excited for tonight.

The Flyers are in Las Vegas, ready to begin the 2018-19 NHL season by taking on the defending Western Conference-champion Golden Knights.

How will this season play out?

Sam and Sam’s predictions

Find out where Sam Donnellon and Sam Carchidi think the Flyers will finish (spoiler alert: Donnellon is betting on a trip to the Eastern Conference finals). The pair also predict when goalie-of-the-future Carter Hart will make his NHL debut, how James van Riemsdyk will perform and more in their Flyers season preview.

Dave Hakstol, unmasked

How much do you really know about Dave Hakstol?

The man tasked with bringing a championship to a franchise that's been pining for one in 43 years is still beloved back in Grand Forks, N.D., where he helped bring a University of North Dakota team to the brink — but couldn't.

Let Mike Sielski show you the side of Hakstol that you don't know.

“I just keep plugging away”

Brian Elliott is 33 and coming off not one but two major surgeries. Nevertheless, he'll be the man in goal for the Flyers for the time being. What about Michal Neuvirth? The idea that he could save Elliott from a heavy early-season workload seems preposterous according to Donnellon, who analyzes the Flyers' goalie situation entering the start of the season.

For insurance, Ron Hextall and the Flyers picked up Calvin Pickard earlier this week. The GM discussed the move for the first time before practice in Vegas on Wednesday.

Goalie of the future?

While some fans are wringing their hands about will happen on the ice on Thursday, plenty others are waiting for the moment they see Carter Hart in front of the net at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 20-year-old goalie-of-the-future is paying his dues with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to start the season– something so many of the other greats had to do before they turned into stars. Carchidi explores that time-honored path and what Hart thinks about it and details how Hart performed in the preseason here. 

>> FROM THE ARCHIVES: If Carter Hart has a long career, credit his sports psychologist

Turning the page

Ivan Provorov had a tearful end to the 2017-18 season. The 21-year-old defenseman had lost feeling in his arm and couldn't shoot the puck in Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs, and his turnovers led to two late goals by the Penguins.

Now, fully recovered from his separated shoulder and having spent a summer working out in Russia, Provorov is ready to lead the Flyers — even if he doesn't see that 'C' or 'A' on his jersey. Carchidi writes about his maturity and potential here.

Flyers position previews: Left wing now a strengthCompetitive group of centersIf Wayne Simmonds is right, so is that side of the icePower play looks improved, but penalty kill has questionsDefense has strength and experience, but is it enough?Goalie injuries wreak havoc on depth chart

Polar opposites, best friends

Donnellon details the relationship of Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny, who are incredibly close despite their obvious differences.

Patrick, the 20-year-old-center, and Konecny, a 21-year-old forward, leaned on each other to make it through a difficult 2017-18 season.

"The guys always say we're like a married couple," Konecny said. "Just arguing all the time."

“Last year was a crappy year”

The 2017-18 season was tough for Wayne Simmonds. There was the broken right ankle, the core-muscle tear, torn ligaments in his right thumb and the six lost teeth, which caused a lot of dental repairs.

Now, the 30-year-old right winger is playing for a new contract and is determined to show he'll be more effective in the future than he was last season, when he scored 24 goals while suffering through tjat litany of injuries. Carchidi has more.

JVR 2.0

James van Riemsdyk officially begins his second stint with the Flyers tonight, and columnist Marcus Hayes writes that the new edition is significantly better than the original.

The first edition of JVR was clunky and flawed, Hayes writes. but six years in Toronto have produced a fearsome left winger worth every cent of the 5-year, $35 million free-agent contract he signed in July.

Fear factor

"Everyone is looking at me right now like I'm the worst piece of [bleep] out there," Radko Gudas was saying at his dressing-room stall recently, and that's how Donnellon's story on the Flyers defenseman begins.

Gudas' aggressive play has, in the past, made him effective and made him millions. But with a healthy chunk of that money going to fines and the concerns about CTE and player safety growing steadily, Gudas is trying to find a way to balance himself and his play.

Rod “The Bod” is taking Carolina by storm

Rod Brind'Amour, the legendary Flyers center and a key factor in the team's ascendance in the 1990s, is beginning his head-coaching career with the Hurricanes.

Ben Pope caught up with him and former teammates who are not surprised at all to see the 48-year-old taking on a new challenge.

"He's got a lot of the intangibles that give you instant respect from your players," Flyers GM and former teammate Ron Hextall said. "I think he's going to do a good job — I really do."

Vegas odds and team-by-team previews

Ed Barkowitz has the latest lines from Vegas Vic: The Flyers have 20-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The favorites? Tampa Bay and Toronto. Both teams have 8-1 odds to take home the trophy.

Find out what's notable about each of the league's 31 teams, plus predictions for point totals and more in Barkowitz's NHL season preview.

Grit and bear it

And, because we know you care, a rundown of the important Gritty news since his debut less than two weeks ago: