Last night there were three games in the NHL:
1) The Penguins beat the Rangers in Pittsburgh's last home opener at the Igloo 3 - 2 in regulation (more on this one later in this post).
2) The Florida Panthers bested the Chicago Blackhawks 4 - 3 in Helsinki, FIN. I covered this in an earl er brain dead post when I thought it was played on Thursday in Chicago. The rest of my comments do remain my opinion and valid in my opinion.
3) Carolina lost their home opener to Philadelphia 2 - 0. Apparently from the highlights and games stars it appears the Flyers outplayed the 'Canes, though statistically the 'Canes bested the Flyers in most categories. Philadelphia took eight penalties, they were able to kill them all. The Hurricanes took six minor penalties including a double minor top Sergei Samsonov at the end of the first period which proved to be the catalyst for the Flyers two power play tallies within the first minute of the second period. Ray Emery's return to the NHL was also apparently a solid one, the 27 year old stopped all 28 shots on goal Carolina threw at him and earned his third straight shutout against the Hurricanes. In the end the two goals by the Flyers' extra man unit proved to be one more than enough for the Flyers to earn their first two points on the road this season.
4) The Saint Louis Blues bested the Detroit Red Wings 4 - 3 in regulation in Stockholm, SWE. The Blues 34 year old left wing, Paul Kariya, scored two goals and earned the games first star. Blues goalie Chris Mason stopped 31 of the 34 shots the Red Wings threw at him to earn the games second star and the victory. Kirk Maltby of the Wings had a goal and an assist to earn the third star of the game. From the recap, it looks like the game had its ups and downs and it's ugly patches but would have been a fun one to watch.
The Penguins - Rangers game last evening was a fun one to watch and I did on NHLN-US. Both Marc-Andre Fluery and Henrik Lundqvist made some super-human saves each of which were worth the price of admission. In the end the Penguins power up front was just too much for the Rangers though they were well prepared for the game and looked like they were intent on spoiling the Penguins Stamley Cup banner raising night on several occassions. The other thing I noted is that it sure seems that once Marian Gaboriak gets fully assimilated into the Rangers lineup they will be even more solid then they were last night - his timing was a little off on two chances he had that I think later in the season - he nets at least one of them. Donald Brashear played his first game as a Ranger and had his first fight as a Blueshirt versus Eric Godard - you can check it out at hockeyfights.com here. My only question is why the three stars of the game are 1) Crosby; 2) Kennedy; 3) Goligoski? Oh year those are determined by the Pittsburgh press since they are the majority of the media in attendance. Me I'd have scored it: 1) Kennedy; 2) Crosby; and 3) Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers.
Today is a big one for NHL fans. There will be 15 games, involving all 30 teams in the league, with games being played in four nations: the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden. It should be a hockey blockbuster. For Caps fans the place to be though is Verizon Center at 7PM for the Caps home opener against the updated/upgraded Toronto Maple Leafs. Both the Maple Leafs and the Caps will be playing in their second game of the regular season. Toronto will be coming into the game 0-0-1 having lost in overtime to their arch rivals - the Canadeans on Thursday in Toronto. The Caps come into the game 1-0-0.
One final thing before turning the attention to tonight's game at the VC. Rumours are that both Flash and Fehr are getting better. Rumblings are that folks think Fehr could be back soon and Fleischmann will get cleared for full practice soon as well. If the top six forwards/top two lines keep playing like they did on Thursday, I hope that only means moving things around with the third and fourth lines and though it's only one game even that isn't a given to me.
It looks like the only change to the Capitals lineup from Thursday will be that tonight will be that Semyon Varlamov will get the start in goal. From the notes by Tarik and Corey it appears the three healthy scratches will again be: Tyler Sloan, Jeff Schultz, and Michael Nylander. Sure makes me wonder how many other teams in the NHL have $6.23M of salary cap hit sitting in the press box, how about you? How long can this go on?
Here's the lineup projected by the Washington Times' Corey Masisak:
Toronto looked pretty good on Thursday against the Canadeans but the Capitals looked even better against the Bruins. Like others I expect the Leafs to try and counter the Caps skill with "physicality" and intimidation. As long as the Caps display the maturity they had on Thursday again st the "B"s that won't work. I look for a Caps 4 - 2 victory in regulation. I expect big nights from Semeyon Varlamov, Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble and Matt Bradley. I also expect points on assists from Ovechkin, Backstrom, B-Mo, Mike Green, and Brooks Laich. All in all I expect the Caps to come out flying and the Leafs to try and counter-punch unsuccessfully in the first period, then things will likely settle down some.
My wife and I will be Rockin' the Red in our seats in Section 103 - loving life.
LETS GO CAPS!!!