Thursday, October 5, 2017

NHL Hockey is Back! 2017-18 Opening Day Brought Some Exciting Moments

This season’s opening day had a little bit of everything: a beautiful and emotional opening in Pittsburgh as the Pens had their banner raising ceremony for the 2017 Stanley Cup Championship banner, a completely lopsided 7-2 game, followed by an exciting over-time game. Then, we had a classic rivalry game that ended in a shut out. The final game in the mix was hard-fought, thought to be evenly matched, with a milestone scoring achievement made. We even got to see two great players with hat tricks tonight!

The Hockey season began at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday night with the Maple Leafs vs. Jets game. This was an incredible game for Toronto. Patrick Marleau scored both his first and second goals as a Maple Leaf. Also scoring goals tonight for Toronto were, with one goal each: Nazem Kadri, James VanRiemsdyk, William Nylander, Mitchell Marner, and Austin Matthews. This means that scoring happened on all of the top three lines for the Maple Leafs tonight. This is the kind of depth that they need to show consistently if they hope to make a run into the playoffs again this season. Scoring the Jets two goals tonight were Mark Scheifele, and Mathieu Perrault. Jets goalie Steve Mason was pulled just seconds into the 3rd period when the Maple Leafs were up 4-0. He was replaced by backup goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, but to no avail, Toronto still scored three more goals while he was in net. The Jets finally got onto the scoreboard halfway through the third, but it was too little, too late, and they ultimately fell to the Maple Leafs 7-2.

The banner raising of the 2017 Stanley Cup Championship banner at the PPG Paints Arena opened the 2017-18 season in style. The Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Lewis Blues did not disappoint in their season opener which was a nail biting game that ended in OT, with a score of 5-4 St. Lewis. Mid way through the 3rd we got to see Sid being Sid as he scored his first goal of the season, in typical Crosby style, by jumping over the initial shot picking up the rebound and putting it in the net all in one fluid and seemingly effortless move. This was a fast paced back and forth game throughout. Both teams played hard and it was any one's game to win. At the end of the 3rd the game was tied 4 all sending it to over time. This OT period was short lived though, just 1 minute 15 seconds in, Alex Pietrangelo scored the game winning goal, his 2nd goal of the game. The other goals for the Blues were scored by Paul Stasney, Brayden Schenn, Colton Parayko, each with one goal. In addition to Crosby, Pittsburgh's other three goals were put in by Justin Shultz, Olli Matta, and Connor Sheary.

Next up was our classic rivalry game, known as the battle of Alberta. The Edmonton Oilers took on the Calgary Flames in what was expected to be a charged season opener for both teams.  This however was a decidedly one sided game which ended in a 3-0 shut out by Edmonton.  All three goals were scored by Oilers captain Connor McDavid. The final goal of the night an empty netter in the last minute of play gave McDavid the first hat trick of the regular season! McDavid’s hat trick was the first opening night hat trick scored by an Oiler in franchise history! This was his 2nd career hat trick, and hopefully we will see several more from him throughout the season. Two of the assists in tonight's game were unsurprisingly from Leon Draisaitl, the other was from Milan Lucic. Edmonton had a mind boggling 45 shots on goal tonight compared to Calgary's 26. Despite the crushing loss, Flames goalie Mike Smith had a good game stopping 43 shots, some in spectacular style. For his efforts he was awarded the 2nd star of the game! The first star, of course, went to Connor McDavid for his three goals, and the third to Cam Talbot for stopping all 26 shots he faced tonight.

The last game of the night was the San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers. This was expected to be a close and evenly matched game going in. In the first two periods it appeared to be exactly that, the game was tied 2-2 all at the end of the first. In the second we still had a close game with only one goal being scored, which put the Flyers up by 1. In the third, however we began to see the Sharks fatal flaws. The Sharks only managed to put away one more goal, while the Flyers got the puck into the net twice more. The Sharks lack of depth and abundance of relatively young and less experienced players really showed in that final period of play. All of the goals scored by San Jose were from their top 2 lines, with 2 of the 3 from their first line. One young player who really shined for the Sharks was Kevin Lebanc who had 2 of their 3 goals! The other San Jose goal was scored by veteran Logan Couture. Another notable veteran performance was Brent Burns who made his 500th career assist tonight on Couture's 3rd period goal! For the Flyers their first 2 goals were scored early in the game by Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal. The second and third period were the Wayne Simmonds show, he had the only goal in the second period. In the final period of play he made an amazing tip in goal off of Gostisbehere to put the Flyers up by 1 again. Then in the final 36 seconds of play Simmonds made an empty netter, giving him his first hat trick of this 2017-18 season, and leading his team to a well deserved win on their away season opening game. This hat trick by Simmonds was also the first opening night hat trick in the Flyers organization's history!

  • The Maple Leafs, Blues, Oilers, and Flyers all take wins in their season opening games. 
  • Congratulations to Connor McDavid of the Oilers and Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers for their opening night hat tricks. In both cases these were the first hat tricks scored by a player on opening night in their organizations's history! 
  • Also Congratulations to Brent Burns of the Sharks for his milestone 500th career assist! 
  • The Penguins walk away with a loss, but still manage to gain a point by forcing the game into overtime. 
  • The Jets leave tonight with the most devastating loss to Toronto 2-7. 
  • Calgary takes the shutout loss in their rivalry game...

And the Sharks lose at home... again. Home teams usually have the advantage, but in recent years this has not been the case for the Sharks. San Jose seems to have a unique curse when it comes to home games, they lose them nearly as often, if not more, than they win them. This curse seems to still be with them this season as well.

All in all it was a great opening night of regular season hockey, and I look forward to watching again tomorrow!


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