October 05, 2009
Hello. This is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Ah, to live in the moment.
With the Boston Bruins up 4-0 on the Carolina Hurricanes Saturday night, Jack Edwards commented that everyone that had broken their ankles jumping off the Bruins bandwagon would now be pulling their hamstrings climbing back on.
He, of course, exhibited great glee in taking his told-ya-so moral high ground while smugly noting that last year's Boston Bruins -- ya know, the ones that won the East!!! -- also started the season at 1-1.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Another Bruins team that started the season 1-1: The 2006-07 side that finished with 76 points. The point being that, shocking though it may be, the first two games of an 82-game schedule aren't necessarily an indicator of future success or failure.
Case in point: Alexander Ovechkin(notes). I think even he would admit that his pace through two games, in which he's scored 3-3-6, is a little hard to maintain. Not that he wouldn't love to finish the year with 123-123-246, it just seems unreasonable. Brooks Laich(notes), similarly, is unlikely to finish in a four-way tie for the Rocket Richard with Ovie, Wojtek Wolski(notes) and Patrick Marleau(notes).
(Coming up: An incredibly bloody Lucic fight in Boston; the shakeup in Ottawa; a player is hurt again in Carolina; Gagner brawls Conroy off the face-off; Khabi blows it in Edmonton; a tough cap situation in Philly; a space cadet in Phoenix; Ron Artest: Puckhead; and no one besides Craig Anderson(notes) shows up in Colorado.)
The first few games of the season always feature freakish statistical outliers. Josh Gorges(notes) and Adam Pardy(notes) of all people lead the NHL in shooting percentage at 1.000. Through two games, Jay Bouwmeester(notes) has played 59:12 to lead the league in ice time (actually, they're not very likely to rein that in), but Joe Corvo(notes) is next at 57:45, nearly two and a half minutes per game more than Chris Pronger(notes). Sorry Columbus fans, RJ Umberger's(notes) not going to finish with 82 shorties.
Antti Niemi(notes) and Ray Emery(notes) probably won't keep the shutout streaks alive for the rest of the season, and it seems likely that Craig Anderson's league-leading win total will eventually fall to goalies that are actually on good teams. And along those same lines, Colorado's stranglehold on the first seed in the West will almost certainly weaken in the coming week or so, and Martin Brodeur's(notes) stay on the second page the NHL's of goals-against average stat tracker can't be long for this world.
So please, everyone, let's be serious here. There's no reason to think we're looking at a Caps/Blues Cup Final because they're at the top of the standings on Oct. 5 and the Red Wings won't be dead last.
Let's let the rest of the season go and see how everything shakes out.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf(notes) knows he gets to fly under the radar because he's on the Ducks (pun only partly intended). No one in LA, outside of a small group, really cares about the team, so he basically gets to be a top-5 forward in the league without answering a million tough questions every night. Sid Crosby probably envies him.
Atlanta Thrashers: The Thrashers decided they wanted to get some youth in the mix when it came to leadership, so they gave an A to 19-year-old Zach Bogosian(notes). He's the youngest player in the league with a letter on the front of his jersey, beating Kyle Okposo(notes) and Jonathan Toews(notes) by a couple years.
Chicago Blackhawks: Gotta hand it to the NHL for sticking with a failed idea (sound familiar?). Despite disappointing attendance and it being a general waste of time, former Chicago resident and the senior VP of NHL International Ken Yaffe says the league will continue to start the season in Europe.
Colorado Avalanche: Of all the places you'd think only 13,416 would show up, I bet you wouldn't have picked Colorado. The economy and all that, I understand, but that's still an awful small number to see the hometown boys play a pretty good team like Vancouver, especially given how well the Avs had played on Thursday.
Edmonton Oilers: Last year the Oilers won just 18 games at home. And now they say they'll improve on that. They did not, however, get off to the best start by clawing their way back into a tight game with Calgary before blowing it inside a minute to go (more on that later).
Los Angeles Kings: If you didn't see the Kings/Coyotes game Saturday night, you missed a whopper. The Kings hit four posts, Ron Artest professed his love for the sport of hockey (he and Mike Milbury could give enforcers some pointers on crowd control), and Drew Doughty(notes) had an absolutely horrific night despite picking up a goal and an assist. I guess one out of 82 ain't so bad.
Minnesota Wild: Somewhat interestingly, it turns out Jacques Lemaire was nearly fired midseason last year. After a real bad December, they decided to wait until early January to do it, but by then the Wild had started demolishing teams, so the issue was dropped. Kinda explains why he just quit at the end of the year though, doesn't it?
Montreal Canadiens: Ryan O'Byrne(notes)? Out six weeks. Glen Metropolit(notes)? Also out, iffy for tomorrow night against Calgary but at least he made the trip. Andrei Markov(notes)? Out too, as I'm sure you've heard. This has been a productive two games for the Canadiens, yessir.
Nashville Predators: Dan Ellis(notes) made a big play in the Preds' win on Saturday, wiring a perfect tape-to-tape pass to James Neal(notes), who is, unfortunately, not on his team. Neal scored no problem, but Ellis at least got to joke about it since his team snuck away with a win. Quipped Ellis: "I thought I had a chance to score there."
New Jersey Devils: Almost nothing went right for the Devs on Saturday. They got crushed by Philly, they looked bad doing it, too many guys took long shifts and they just weren't disciplined. It got so bad that Jacques Lemaire had to bench Andrew Peters(notes) for mouthing off to the refs. Not how you want to start a season for sure.
New York Islanders: B.D. Gallof put up an excellent and lengthy post yesterday, positing that perhaps the whole Lighthouse Project kerfuffle was manufactured by Charles Wang as a means of getting the fans on his side, even though his intention has always been to move the team at the earliest convenience. Pro-Project signs were even given out to the fans by team management. What a disaster.
New York Rangers: Congratulations to Michael Del Zotto(notes), who scored his first NHL goal on Saturday with his family in the building. Nothing else of note happened in Rangerland, and whether that's a good or bad thing is up to you.
Ottawa Senators: The Sens changed up their lines after their ugly opening-game loss to Atlanta. I don't know what this reminds me of more: rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic or the Hindenburg.
Philadelphia Flyers: You know your team is used to catching a beating salary-wise when fan blogs are actively breaking down the cap hits of two guys that didn't play a game and were sent down to the AHL. So for those wondering at home, the twin terror of Johan Backlund(notes) and Marc-Andre Bourdon's(notes) cap hits totaled roughly $23,500, or .04 percent of the Flyers' total cap space. Dodged a bullet there.
Phoenix Coyotes: The key to Scotty Upshall's success is apparently kineticism. "I'm a guy, you got to keep the legs moving or I'm a space cadet out there," he said. "I love going hard, finishing checks, going to the net hard, and that was the key." The good news for him is the whole team will be moving next season. *rimshot* Okay, I'll see myself out.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Sidney Crosby's(notes) off to a hell of a start, eh? Two goals and an assist in two games, playing pretty well in his own end, and dominating the dot to the tune of 62.5 percent while taking more than a third of his team's draws. That's a captain, right there.
San Jose Sharks: Isn't two games into the season a little early to be busting out the headline "Top line finally starts scoring?" You mean it took them more than one game to get that Heatley guy 100 percent up to snuff with his brand new linemates, team, conference and time zone? PREPOSTEROUS I SAY!
St. Louis Blues: St. Louis Game Time with a pair of great photos of the sports pages of Aftonbladet. After St. Louis' Friday win, the headlines screamed "Here [Paul Kariya(notes)] ruins the party." After Saturday's, it called the weekend "The Swede Fiasco." Handing the Wings their lunch like that has got to feel awesome for Blues fans.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The other day Greg made a joke about the Lightning having too many defensemen (he did, I swear!). Well who's laughing now, Wyshynski? Kurtis Foster(notes) is out for a week or so. They had this ace up their sleeve all along.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets suggested this strange thing get a nod this morning. I assume that, because I didn't understand a second of it apart from "Damien Cox hates the Maple Leafs," at least Leafs fans will enjoy it. So please do. We need more bewildering things in the hockey blogosphere.
Vancouver Canucks: Now this is a scary prospect: In addition to signing Andrew Raycroft(notes), the Canucks also attempted to bring Dan Cloutier(notes) back for a tryout during camp. And the first comment on that post was a real winner. Said NLK, "Luongo is no better then Cloutier ..." He went on after that, you see, but I couldn't finish reading it because I was lying on the floor laughing hysterically for 45 minutes.
Washington Capitals: Ted Leonsis got a bit contentious (from the look of things) in a conversation about the 2014 Olympics. I don't know why we're talking so much about them this year, but whatever.
Play of the Weekend
This was a straight-up heist by Ray Emery on Saturday.
Think the Flyers are happy they yanked him outta Russia right now?
Gold Star Award
With all due respect to each and every one of the seven players that racked up three points on Saturday, I think I have to go with Craig Anderson for this one. He made 35 saves to swipe a shutout against a division rival that should have creamed the Avs.
(Not pictured: the Ice Girl he's probably ogling.)
Minus of the Weekend
The Oil are about to go into overtime with their hated rival in their home opener, and that's the game-winning goal inside a minute to go? Yikes. (Not to say I didn't actually laugh out loud at this turn of events on Saturday night, mind you.)
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
Silverback91 knows that it's the small trades that make champions. Have a gander at this blockbuster:
Burke likes having a lot of toughness and grit on his team so:
7th round pick
Mmm, that sounds good. I'll have that.