Friday, October 6, 2017

Night 2 of the 2017-18 Regular Season Continued, the Surprises Keep Coming

Last Night was another fun and exciting night of hockey in day two of season opening games. In my last article, I covered five of the eight games that were played last night. Here are the remaining three. This will cover the Avalanche vs. Rangers game, the Coyotes vs. Ducks game, and the Kings vs. Flyers game. All were surprising games in their own way.

Avalanche vs Rangers

Based on the last few seasons performances I predicted a lopsided game, possibly even a fairly easy win on this one. It did not go at all the way I had imagined. The first half of period 1 was all Avalanche as they scored first at about the five minute mark, and then again at 11 minutes in. The Rangers stepped up their game at that point, putting the next two goals on the board before the end of the 1st period. Things slowed down after that with only one goal scored in each of the next two periods, both by Colorado.
  • Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen scored the Avalanche's first period goals.
  • Mika Zibanejad scored both of the Rangers goals on the power play.
  • Tyson Barrie scored Colorado's 2nd period goal braking the tie.
  • Gabriel Landeskog made the 4th goal for the Avalanche, an empty netter with just seconds left in the game.
  • Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves in his first game back after hip surgery in January.
This was one of the more unexpected games of the night. I would have expected the scores to be reversed especially since the game was played in the Rangers home arena, Madison Square Garden. The Avalanche played a much better game tonight and walked away with a well-deserved win to open their season.

Coyotes vs Ducks

In this game the outcome was what I expected, but how they got there was not. I expected the Ducks to take the win, it was their home opener and they tend to play well at home. The Ducks are also a team that is favored to make the playoffs from the Pacific Division, where as the Coyotes are not. The Coyotes opened the scoring last night with two goals early in the first period, making the Ducks play from behind. Anaheim did get one goal before the end of the 1st, but in the 2nd Arizona again put up the next two goals. This period the Ducks were able to answer with two goals of their own, but that left them still trailing as the game entered the 3rd period. This period however, was all about the Ducks, they put up two more goals and prevented Arizona from scoring to take the game 5-4.

  • Clayton Keller scored his first NHL goal for the Coyotes!
  • Lewis Domingue had 36 saves, more than Gibson, despite taking the loss tonight.
  • Max Domi and Christian Fischer both scored power play goals in the 2nd which turned the tide of the game in Anaheim's favor for the first time.
  • Cory Perry had two goals including the game tying goal in the 3rd.
  • Rickard Rakell scored tonight's game winning goal for the Ducks.
  • John Gibson had 24 saves in tonight's win.
The Coyotes played a great first half of the game.  For those first 30+ minuets of the the game they definitely looked like the stronger team, and I thought they were going to take the win. Unfortunately after getting to a three point lead they seemed to slow down and lose focus. This was their fatal mistake, with still half of the game left to play you can't afford to lose momentum like that. The Ducks came back strong in the second half, and with an outstanding 3rd period and earned themselves a season opening win!

Flyers vs Kings

Opening night for the Kings was surprising only in it lack of obvious changes from last season. The Kings did not make a large number of roster changes in the off season, and the only surprise player wise was that Alec Martinez was placed on the injured list. The style of play seemed nearly unchanged under new Head Coach John Stevens, though perhaps this is not surprising since they made so few roster changes. It was still a low scoring game relying more on defensive strength than the speed and offensive focus we see from so many NHL teams now.  The Kings had only 27 shots on goal, which is low when you look at the 35 to 45 put up by many of the other teams that played tonight. This is a tried and true style of play for the Kings, it won them two cups, and it worked again tonight! However it has not served them well the last few seasons, so we may see some changes there down the line.

  • Jonathan Quick made 35 saves in what was his 45th career shutout!
  • Michael Neuvirth also had a great game for the Flyers and made some truly spectacular saves. He blocked 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
  • Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli made the Kings, and the game's only, two goals tonight
  • both the Kings and the Flyers had 5 power play opportunities, neither managed to score on any of them.
  • Kopitar's name is still missing from the score sheet, but we heard his name a lot in reference to stopping the Flyers scoring chances. He also had at least three good shots on goal tonight so while he is not on the stats sheet he still played a strong game and contributed well to the Kings win.
The Flyers looked a little bit flat tonight with the exception of goaltender Michael Neuvirth. However this was their second of back to back games. They definitely looked sharper against the Sharks last night. That being said Jonathan Quick and the Kings defensive lines did an amazing job of shutting down the Flyers offense. The power play units were a weak spot for the Kings, and the Flyers as well. To have five man up opportunities and not manage to score on any of them is a testament to the other teams' penalty kill sure, but it is also a sign that something is not working right for the power play units. The Flyers penalty kill was the other strong point on their shutout loss last night, they too managed to kill 5 Kings power plays! The Kings penalty kill was also a very strong part of the game, they too had a perfect record tonight on five power play opportunities for the Flyers. This is something I hope they can keep up as the season progresses!

There have been many exciting and shocking games so far this week. We have had four hat tricks, several players scoring their 1st NHL goals, and some amazing saves. We have had overtime games, shoot-out games, shutouts, and crushing victories or defeats. There are still six more teams who play their season openers tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what they bring!


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