Thursday, October 13, 2016

NHL Opening Night - Pacific Division

     Opening night of NHL hockey, can I say I am overjoyed to have hockey season underway finally! There was a lot of excitement around the league on this first night of the 2016-17 season.  Here in the Pacific Division we had 4 teams play, the Calgary Flames played the Edmonton Oilers and The San Jose Sharks played the Los Angeles Kings.  Edmonton dominated Calgary taking that game in a high scoring 7 to 4 win.  The Kings Sharks game was much closer with the Sharks taking the game 2 to 1.
    The Oilers had a great opening night at their new arena in Edmonton.  They overtook the Flames by a 3 point margin.  Perhaps the more impressive bit about the 7 goals scored by the Oilers is the diversity of the players who scored.  There were 6 different shooters that found the back of the net tonight.  Captian Connor McDavid scored 2, the other 5 were scored one a piece by Patrick Maroon, Tyler Pitlick, Zack Kassian, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Jordan Eberle.  Calgary did put in a strong effort which included 2 shorthanded goals from Troy Brouwer and Michael Frolik, but after the penalty goal by the Oilers in the middle of the second they were just not able to come back.
     The interstate rivalry between the Sharks and the Kings was a close game.  At the close of the first period the game was tied 1 to 1.  Tyler Toffoli of the Kings scored a beautiful power play goal early in the first to give the Kings a short lived lead.  Logan Couture tied things up in the second half of the first with a disputed goal that sparked Jonathan Quick to drop his gloves and start a brawl that included everyone on the ice except for Martin Jones.  Unfortunately the big news from this game came at the beginning of the second when Jeff Zatkoff took the ice as goaltender for the Kings and Jonathan Quick did not return from the locker room.  Later in the game Kings Manager Lombardi said that Quick was out with a lower body injury and could be out for "a while".  The winning goal was scored by Brett Burns early in the third period, so the Sharks start their season on a high note with a home ice win. This is notable because in the 2015-16 regular season they had a less the 50% win average on home ice,  though they did much better in the playoffs at home.  Hopefully this opening night win will set the tone for a strong performance at home as well as on the road this year.
     Time will tell how the loss of Quick will effect the performance of the team.  He is Scheduled for an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury, so more should be known about his estimated return in the next few days.  Jonathan Quick is one of the Kings key players both due to his exceptional skill as a goalie and in psychological presence and confidence building for team moral in general.  Zatkoff performed well for the Kings tonight, but no one can replace Jonathan Quick.  We will just have to hope that Quick's injury is not severe, and that he can make a speedy and complete recovery.

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