Friday, October 6, 2006
It's only Week 1, but we can't stop dreaming
AROUND THE RINK
We're just a few days into the NHL season. We're still shaking off the rust. But with most of the 30 NHL teams having already taken the ice over the past few days, we're struck by a few performances. Again, it's only Week 1, but
• The Chicago Blackhawks are undefeated!
It's just one game, but they lost last season's opener, so we couldn't contain our excitement. All kidding aside, the Blackhawks do seem off to a good start. They were 7-1 in the preseason and Martin Havlat
had two goals and two assists in Thursday's wild 8-6 opening win over the Nashville Predators
. Good start? Ha! The Blackhawks are showing a little life. How long it will last is anyone's guess, but we're going to enjoy that "unbeaten" record for at least one day.
• Knee injury my #&!#&!:
When Dwayne Roloson
went down like a sack of potatoes in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, the questions started swirling. Would this be a free-agent bust for the Oilers? Would the team re-sign him? Could he come back from the knee injury that ended his season? Not yet. Yes (a three-year deal). Yes, and then some. Roloson was mobile, focused and ready to play, making 31 saves in the Oilers' convincing 3-1 season-opening win over the Flames on Thursday. Roloson and the Oilers also kept the Flames at bay on the man advantage (0-for-9). Will Edmonton's defense be able to back Roloson? We guess Miikka Kiprusoff
and the Flames are asking themselves the same question.
• How about those Penguins?
The team signed an agreement to be sold to the man who gave us the "CrackBerry." Marc-Andre Fleury
made 40 saves for his third career shutout. Sidney Crosby
had a goal and an assist and
he roughed it up with Peter Forsberg
. Who are these Penguins?! They're the Penguins that handily beat the disoriented Flyers 4-0 on Thursday night. Our own Barry Melrose predicted that Pittsburgh will make the playoffs. With Evgeni Malkin
healing and waiting to make his NHL debut, we're starting to believe Mr. Mullet.
• Senators' Jekyll and Hyde in net:
OK, which is it? Is Martin Gerber
phenomenal or not? A few days before Ottawa's season opener, Senators coach Bryan Murray said that Gerber was good, but he was not "phenomenal." Gerber then went out and gave a solid performance as Ottawa beat Toronto, 4-1, on Wednesday. A day later in Ottawa, Gerber was pulled as the Maple Leafs routed their Ontario rivals 6-0. We're so confused. What's the over-under on who'll be starting in net come February?
• Luongo loves Vancouver:
Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo
looked strong in his Vancouver debut, helping his team kill nine Detroit power-play chances in a 3-1 win over the Red Wings on Thursday. Luongo also upstaged Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom
, who was introduced as the new Red Wings captain in a pregame ceremony.
• What 15 years and $67.5 million gets you:
We feel for Rick DiPietro
. How do you live up to a lofty deal like that? Well, the Islanders netminder got shelled for six goals on 32 shots in New York's 6-3 opening loss to the Phoenix Coyotes
. It's only Week 1, but maybe GM Garth Snow
can give DiPietro some pointers.
ALL ABOUT SUBTLETY
With season openers come ceremonies and introductions and fanfare.
The Carolina Hurricanes had a big banner-raising ceremony to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship. Other teams had player introductions under strobe lights and dramatic music. The Edmonton Oilers? Well, the defending Western Conference champions did not take part in any ceremony. The organization instead unveiled a 10-minute playoff memory video and their conference championship banner, just for fans. The Oilers came within one game of the Stanley Cup, losing 4-3 to Carolina in the finals.
Why was the pregame ceremony so understated? Quite simply, the collective feeling in the Oilers locker room was "we didn't win anything."
• Brendan Shanahan reached the 600 mark for his career with two goals in his Rangers debut. No other player in NHL history scored a milestone goal of 300 or more -- that is, a multiple of 100 -- in his first game for a new team. Two players scored their 200th career goal in team debuts: Mark Hunter for the Flames and Stephane Richer for the Devils, both in 1991.
• The Lightning held the Thrashers to 11 shots in a 3-2 shootout win. That equaled the lowest SOG total that any NHL team has recorded in its opening game of the season. The Penguins had only 11 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Kings to open the 2003-04 season.
• Jaromir Jagr, who ranked second in the NHL with 52 goals last season, scored 29 seconds into the Rangers' season opener, a 5-2 win over the Capitals. The only other player to score in the first minute of his team's opening game while coming off a season of 50 or more goals was Theo Fleury. Fleury scored 51 goals in 1990-91, then lit the lamp 16 seconds into the Flames' 9-2 win over the Oilers in their 1991-92 opener.
• The Canucks took a 3-0 lead against Dominik Hasek and cruised to a 3-1 win at Detroit. It was only the second time in the past 60 years that the Red Wings trailed by three goals at home in their season opener. The other was in a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota North Stars in 1971.
• The Penguins had three teenagers on the ice in their 4-0 victory over the Flyers: Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Kristopher Letang. Pittsburgh was the first team in 11 years to play three teens in its opening game of a season. The last was the Winnipeg Jets in 1995 (Shane Doan, Jason Doig and Craig Mills).
More from Elias Says
Barry Melrose's best from Week 1.
Steven Reinprecht: The Coyotes center had a goal and four assists as Phoenix topped the New York Islanders 6-3 on Thursday night. Reinprecht is entering his second season in Phoenix.
Martin Gerber: The Ottawa netminder was replaced by Ray Emery after allowing five goals in two periods of Thursday's 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gerber was acquired this offseason after Cam Ward emerged as the No. 1 netminder for the defending Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.
|THE 600 CLUB|
Brendan Shanahan makes history in Rangers debut.
|FORWARD THINKING: WEEKEND
There are 14 games on the docket for Saturday night. Here are a few to watch out for:
• Oilers at Flames, 10 p.m. ET: Part II of the Battle of Alberta shifts to Calgary. Jarome Iginla and Co. will need to find their special-teams skills. They went 0-for-7 against a newly packaged Edmonton defense on Thursday at Rexall Place. The Flames posted an impressive 30-7-4 home record last season.
• Rangers at Flyers, 7 p.m. ET: The first of many divisional battles between the two Atlantic rivals begins Saturday in Philly. Forsberg, Jagr. Gagne, Shanahan. Lundqvist, Esche. Clarke, anyone. The crowd will be rockin' at the Wachovia Center.
• Ducks at Coyotes, 10 p.m. ET: If the Coyotes want a shot at the playoffs, they'll have to learn to contend within the tough Pacific Division, which means they'll have to contend with the likes of the Anaheim Ducks, who sport the best 1-2 defensive punch in the league with Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.
Complete NHL schedule