This past weekend marked the return of NHL hockey and NHL opening weekend was absolutely beautiful. There were highlight reel goals, jaw-dropping saves and some good old fashioned fights. Rivalries were renewed not only on the ice but also on twitter after fans had been united in the battle against the lockout. Most importantly NHL opening weekend reminded fans just how great the game of hockey truly is. I must say I have missed the NHL- welcome back, welcome back.
Let’s talk about the games from NHL opening weekend- which featured all 30 NHL teams. While it may be too early to start judging teams based off their first showings, it’s never too early to start talking hockey!
Chicago Blackhawks (5) vs. Los Angeles Kings (2)
- Each member of the Los Angeles Kings- who won the Stanley Cup before the lockout- were given a chance to take a 2nd lap with the coveted Stanley Cup raised above their heads. Arrogant, cocky, or deserved? you decide, but it really seemed to spark the Blackhawks.
- Patrick Kane scored a goal from such a dirty angle that nothing was clean about it. That goal was also the first tally of the 2013 NHL season.
- Jonathan Quick did not look sharp- his angles were off and he wasn’t the Quick we saw throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs. But it is only the first game of the season and he is coming off back surgery- give him a week he’ll be fine.
- Marian Hossa made quite the return scoring 2 goals and adding an assists after being knocked out of playoffs, literally, on a hit from Raffi Torres which left Hossa concussed.
Pittsburgh Penguins (3) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (1)
- This was supposed to be the big ticket game on Saturday afternoon, after their intense battle in the first round of the last years playoffs but it simply didn’t live up to expectations. There were a few penalties but no big fights, Claude Giroux didn’t smoke Sidney Crosby, and neither Crosby nor Evgeni Malkin found the back of the net.
- Good news, both goaltenders seemed to have bounce back from their rocky playoff showings. Marc- Andre Fleury had a .963 Save Percentage and Ilya Bryzgalov had a respectable .923 and really couldn’t be blamed for the Flyers loss.
- Luke Schenn made his Flyers debut but was less then stellar tipping a shot into his own goal.
Ottawa Senators (4) vs. Winnipeg Jets (1)
- I know that the Senators put up 4 goals but this game really showcased the fact that the majority of players hadn’t played since last may, this was a very sloppy game early on.
- Erik Karlsson started the year where he left off last- on fire- putting up a 3 points.
Toronto Maple Leafs (2) vs. Montreal Canadiens (1)
- This was a game between two teams who will likely finish pretty low in the Eastern Conference and it showed- by most accounts a pretty boring game.
- I’m not to sure whether the Leafs actually played well or whether the Canadiens were just flat out horrible. I know it’s just 1 game but it may be a long year in Montreal for Habs fans.
- Nazem Kadri had a big night scoring the first goal for the Leafs in 2013 and being arguably the best player on the ice for either team. Kadri was scoring goals and laying hits, he looked very good.
- Mike Kostka made his NHL debut and had a very successful night playing in the top defence pairing despite the majority of fans not knowing who Kostka was. But if he keeps up his strong play fans will quickly learn his name.
New Jersey Devils (2) vs. New York Islanders (1)
- Despite being 40 and having to deal with a tough shortened season, Martin Brodeur was able to pick up the win in his first game of 2013.
- New Jersey gets off on the right foot after losing Zack Parise in the offseason
Boston Bruins (3) vs. New York Rangers (1)
- Talk about lockout rust from Vezina winning goalie Henrik Lundqvist! Lundqvist did not look like the king last night, but did manage to make a huge goal-line save on a arguable call- possible save of the year candidate?
- Milan Lucic stayed true to himself scoring the Bruins first goal, taking a boarding penalty and then being kicked out of the game after chirping the Rangers bench. Good to see Lucic’s new daughter hasn’t affected his play on the ice.
- If there were any doubt that Tukka Rask was ready to step out of the shadows and into the limelight, those doubts were put away after he stopped 20 of 21 shots, to solidify the win for his team.
Tampa Bay Lightning (6) vs. Washington Capitals (3)
- After reaching the 60 goal plateau last season, Steven Stamkos kicked off 2013 with 2 assists.
- Rookie Cory Conacher made his NHL debut and scored a goal- not a bad debut for the kid. Look for Conacher to have a big year in Tampa being the AHL’s best rookie last season.
- Alexander Ovechkin made his debut at left wing and managed to do absolutely nothing, heck he couldn’t even draw a penalty properly as he was called for a dive.
- It may only be 1 game but it looks like the Lightning have the potential to challenge for a playoff spot this season.
Florida Panthers (5) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (1)
- First off, did anyone at all see this coming after the Hurricanes offseason moves?
- Another surprise the Panthers actually sold out for their home opener!
- Jordan and Eric Staal combined for 0 goals while Alex Kovalev notched a goal and added 2 assists coming up big for the Panthers, despite nobody knowing he was playing for them.
- Jose Theodore made 41 saves in the win, who said the Panthers needed Roberto Luongo?
St. Louis Blues (6) vs. Detroit Red Wings (0)
- After losing Niklas Lidstrom to retirement there were questions about the Wings defence- but I don’t think anyone expected them to be that bad!
- Vladamir Tarasenko made his NHL debut and scored 2 goals, throwing his name into the mix for potential rookie of the year debate.
Columbus Blue Jackets (3) vs. Nashville Predators (2)
- The Columbus Blue Jackets won after trading franchise player Rick Nash to the New York Rangers…
- This was a surprising win for the Blue Jackets who were left with virtually a AHL team after the Nash deal- but then again it’s only the first game.
Dallas Stars (4) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (3)
- What a game for one of the ageless wonders Jaromir Jagr who recorded his 666th career NHL goal. He finished off with 2 goals and 2 assists giving him the league lead in points.
- After a fantastic year leading the Coyotes to the Western Conference Finals, Mike Smith had a rough start between the pipes finishing the night with a .846 Save Percentage. Luckily there’s still plenty of time for him to turn it around.
- After being traded to the Stars from the Sabres, Derek Roy won 70% of his faceoffs.
Minnesota Wild (4) vs. Colorado Avalanche (2)
- Danny Heatley scored 2 goals and both were assisted by offseason acquisition Zach Parise.
- The Avalanche’s young stars weren’t able to hold off the relentless attack of the Wild veterans.
Anaheim Ducks (7) vs. Vancouver Canucks (3)
- Everyone knew the Canucks were a little banged up both on offence and defence- but no one knew they would be this badly off.
- Remember how Cory Schneider was going to replace Luongo- yeah that didn’t last too long as Schneider was pulled in favour for Bobby Luo after 5 goals.
- Much like Jagr- Temmu Selanne never seems to age. He’s back for another NHL season with the Ducks at age 42 and is off to a fast start with 2 goals and 2 assists on opening night.
Buffalo Sabres (5) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (2)
- How about Thomas Vanek? Despite a somewhat sluggish start from the winger- he picked his game up scoring 2 goals and assisting on the other 3. A 5 point night for Vanek giving him the NHL scoring lead.
- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller looked in mid-season form, looking sharp and keeping the Sabres afloat until they found their scoring touch. Looks like it may be a bounce back year for Miller.
- The Flyers have started their season 0-2, it’s still early on but not a good start for Bryzgalov and the Flyers.
- Hartnell took 1 boarding penalty and hit Tyler Ennis from behind which went uncalled, unlike last years Sabres, this years decided they would do something and stand up to Hartnell. Drew Stafford, yes Stafford- challenged Flyers tough guy to a fight to stand up for his linemate Ennis. There’s a new breed of physical Sabres in town and I like them.
- Sabres’ youngsters- Cody Hodgson, Marcus Foligno and Mikhail Grigorenko looked good and sparked some youth into the rest of the team.
San Jose Sharks (4) vs. Calgary Flames (1)
- Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle all hade multipoint games.
- The Flames drew first blood and dominated the first period but their flame was put out in the second period.
- Flames rookie Sven Baertschi looked impressive in his debut.
Pittsburgh Penguins (6) vs. New York Rangers (3)
- The king Lundqvist seems to have fallen off his throne early on, losing his second straight game and being pulled against the Penguins.
- The Penguins are proving they are for real defeating their 2nd divisional foe in as many nights. As a result the Penguins are now 4 points ahead of both the Rangers and Flyers.
- Evgeni Malkin lead the way with 3 assists and Crosby managed his first point of 2013.
Minnesota Wild (1) vs. Dallas Stars (0)
- The first shutout of the 2013 season goes to Wild goalie Josh Harding.
- Zach Parise scored the games lone goal, earning his big contract signed this offseason.
Edmonton Oilers (3) vs. Vancouver Canucks (2) S/O
- Sunday evening saw the first shutout and the first shootout of the 2013 season. The young Oilers had a comeback win against the banged up Canucks in the shootout.
- Luongo started the game- all be it as he was scheduled to anyways but was able to drag out a point for his Canucks. Does it make a whole lot of difference in the long run? Probably not, the Canucks have made it clear they’re going through with Cory Schneider but it does give folks something to talk about.
- Jordan Eberle scored a beautiful goal to put the Oilers on the board beating Luongo from a sharp angle. I stick by my claim that Eberle will challenge for the MVP award.
Chicago Blackhawks (6) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (4)
- Coyotes goalie Mike Smith continues his rough start with another poor performance allowing the 6 goals against, for a total of 10 goals against in 2 games- the good news for him is his counterpart didn’t fare that much better as Ray Emery let in 4.
- The Blackhawks seem to for real, still early on but with 2 back- to -back wins on the road to kick off the season, there isn’t much to complain about.
- Marian Hossa continued his hot start by potting another 2 goals in the win.
How many people were happy to see the NHL return over the weekend? It was a fantastic weekend of hockey- Some teams got out to hot-starts (Blackhawks, Penguins) while others dropped their first 2 games (Flyers, Rangers). What did you think of this weekends games? Which one’s did you watch? What was your favourite highlight- goal or save? I hope you enjoyed the 2013 NHL Opening Weekend!
Filed under: NHL