Sunday, October 8, 2017

Final Three Teams Play Their Season Opener - Another Fun Filled Day of Hockey

Today, the remaining three teams played in their season opening games.  First up, the New Jersey Devils vs. the Colorado Avalanche. Next, the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Edmonton Oilers. Then, the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the Minnesota Wild. There were also 12 other games today, which I will share some exciting moments and highlights from.

Devils vs. Avalanche

The Devils had their season opener at home today against the Avalanche. Going in, the Devils were favored to win. They had home ice advantage, and have had a better record than Colorado in the last few seasons. As such, this game went very much as I expected it to. The Devils opened the scoring early in the first period. Then, they added to their lead with a second goal less than three minutes into the second period. Midway through the second, the Avalanche got on the board, cutting the Devil's lead in half. Unfortunately for Colorado, this was to be their only goal of the game. New Jersey answered with a third goal in the final 30 seconds of the period. The Devils then sealed Colorado's fate with a short-handed goal just over halfway through the final period of play.
  • Devils rookie defenseman Will Butcher made three assists, all on power plays, making him the first player in franchise history to score three points in his first NHL game!
  • Rookie Jesper Bratt scored a power play goal in his first NHL game!
  • Carl Soderberg had the Avalanche's lone goal for the game.
  • Cory Schneider made 40 saves on 41 shots in his season opening win for New Jersey!
The Devils were clearly the better team in this game. The Colorado team that took the ice tonight did not look much like the team who were victorious over the Rangers earlier in the week. Veteran center Nathan MacKinnon was quoted as stating that both Jonathan Bernier tonight and Seymon Varlamov, who tended twine against the Rangers on Thursday night, did a great job. He said it was up to the rest of the team to play better. I give him a whole lot of credit for not throwing Bernier under the bus, and publicly taking responsibility on behalf of the rest of the team to do a better job to support their goalie. Congratulations to the Devils for winning their season opener!

Canucks vs Oilers

The Canucks also had their season opener at home today.  Unlike the Devils vs. Avalanche game, this one did not go quite the way I expected. I thought the Oilers would come out of this contest on top. It was a close game, and the Oilers did find the net first, and quite early at just 1:08 in. After that, however, the remainder of the first and all of the second period were all about the Canucks. Vancouver put up three unanswered goals, following Edmonton's initial score, in the first two periods! The Oilers came back again in the third period to put their second goal in, but just did not have enough in them to overcome the Canucks.
  • Oilers goalie Cam Talbot was pulled from the game early in the second, after letting in three goals on just seven shots!
  • Connor McDavid was kept off the scoreboard for the first time in 16 regular season games. The last time he failed to find the net in a regular season game was back on March 12, 2017.
  • Bo Horvat put up two of Vancouver's three goals!
  • Jacon Markstrom blocked 33 of 35 shots against him to help bring home the win in tonight's season opener!
Again the Canucks were clearly the superior team in tonight's contest. They were fresh not yet having had a regular season game, and they did have home ice advantage as well. Neither of these facts is an excuse, however, for their victory. These were not back-to-back games for the Oilers. They have not played since opening night on Wednesday, when they shut out rival Calgary Flames. Tonight was clearly not the Oilers night. I don't remember the last time Talbot had to be pulled from a game that he started. Talbot was only pulled from four of the 73 games that he started in for the Oilers last season. All the blame can not be laid at Talbot's feet, however. McDavid was held scoreless, as were linemates Draisaitl and Maroon. It is very hard to win a game when your top line fails to score once! The Canucks played a hard and very good game. They unquestionable deserved their win tonight.

Hurricanes vs Wild

The final opening game in this 2017-18 season was the Carolina Hurricanes! Carolina faced off against the Wild in what turned out to be the closest game of the night. This was a fast-paced back-and-forth game throughout, which was fun to watch. Carolina had five different players find the back of the net tonight, and Minnesota had four different players put up their goals tonight. As you can see, both teams demonstrated great depth. This game was a nail-biter right down to the very end!
  • Minnesota didn't mange to tie the game at four until the very final second of regulation when Mikko Koivu found the back of the net. Talk about cutting things close!
  • The Wild did well keeping the score close given that they only had 27 shots on goal as opposed to the Hurricanes 42!
  • Alex Stalock did a fantastic job of keeping his team in the game, which ultimately went to a shootout. He blocked 37 shots - that is 10 more than the Wild put on goal all night!
  • Scott Darling made 23 saves in his first game as a Hurricane, including two shootout saves!
  • This is the first season opener that Carolina has won in seven seasons!
The Hurricanes fought a hard game to earn this first win of the season. The Wild made them work for every point scored. This was truly anyone's game, literally all game long. These are my favorite kinds of games to watch, and this is what defines good hockey! When both teams have players on several lines that can and do score it makes for a very exciting night. Congratulations to both teams for a game well-played, and especially to the Hurricanes for winning their first season opener in seven years!

News and Highlights from the Other 12 Exciting Matchups

There was a very full hockey schedule this Saturday, as there often is during the regular season, with 15 games played. I do not have the time or the space to do a full write-up on each of them. That being said however, there were some important things that happened in some of those other games tonight as well.

  • Alexander Ovechkin made his second hat trick in two games played. He is the first NHL player in 100 years to make back-to-back hat tricks in a seasons first two games! He also has a total of seven goals in just two games played.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins played their best game so far of the season. Matt Murray stopped all 26 shots against him! This was great to see after he missed five of 31 shots on Wednesday, and let six get past him on Thursday's horrifying game against Chicago! It was good to see Murray back to the elite goaltender we have come to expect.
  • This was Murray's sixth shutout in a career 62 NHL starts.
  • The Kings Captain Anze Kopitar made not one but two goals in the Kings 4-1 victory over the Sharks. Kopitar had only 12 goals all of last season, so putting in two tonight does a lot to restore fans' confidence in the man the Kings just gave an 80 million dollar contract to last year!
  • The Kings now have a 2-0-0 record after winning both of their first two games, something that has not happened in 15 years!
  • Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks now has four goals in just two games!
  • Flyers ended an eight-game losing streak against the Ducks by beating them 3-2 in overtime!
  • The Vegas Golden Knights have won both of their first two regular season games, tonight's in overtime!
  • The Golden Knights have only four goals in their first two games, none of them have been made without the help of James Neal. Neal scored their only two goals on Friday, he assisted on Schmidt's goal that sent the game to overtime tonight and scored the game winning over time goal!
  • Toronto has put up more goals in two games than almost any other team in the league. They had seven in their season opening win on Wednesday against the Jets, and had an astounding eight tonight against the Rangers to put up their second win of the season, at a final score of 8-5! That puts them tied with Chicago at 15 goals in these first two regular season games.
  • The Red Wings and Senators went scoreless until the last three minutes of regulation. In that final three minutes, both managed to score forcing overtime, which then went on to a shootout, which the Red Wings came out of victorious! A very exciting ending for a game that was so very slow to start!
As you can see, today was filled with some amazing hockey! All 31 teams have now played at least one regular season game, and many now have two or three under their belt. There has been so much good about this first week of regular season hockey, some bad depending on who your favored teams are, and some downright ugly. Remember though, whether your team is 2-0 or 0-2, it is only the first week. With the whole season in front of us, anything can happen. More to come as the excitement of the 2017-18 season continues. Happy hockey watching everyone!

1 comment:

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