The NHL dropped the puck on Wednesday in their 56-game season over the undefeated one, and one thing became clear: The next 115 nights – which would have to be crammed into 863 games – are going to be dodged. Opening Night gave us a little bit of everything: raising a banner without fans, a Highly dramatic puck drop, A fight, overtime, a frightening amount of commercials and 37 combined goals.
Here are our main takeaways:
1. Montreal Canadiens should be players in North Division
In taking the Toronto Maple Leafs – the team everyone is predicting to run with the division – to overtime, Habs made a statement. Do not count Montreal. There is a lot to like about the progeny of General Manager Mark Burgwin. He added depth to every situation, from goal (solid backup Jake Allen) to defense (Joel Edmondson, as well as the arrival of top prospect Alexander Romanov, who played a brilliant 22:49 in his debut) Offense (Tyler Tofoli) The big free agent meets, but Josh Anderson was the first two goals to prepare himself for the fan base with an all out effort).
The timeline is clearly quick, especially with 20-year-old Jesperi Kotakanmi and 21-year-old Nick Suzuki ready to contribute. Wednesday games such as the Canadiens have a swagger.
“We were a better team than there,” Anderson said.
2. Things look different, but we’ll adapt
The NHL’s summer bubble taught us that empty hockey arenas translate well into a TV product. The lack of fans never distracted; The lattice covering 100-level seats certainly helps, and the broadcast mostly caters to crowd noise. But a lot has changed since summer. The NHL has calculated its losses from disrupting its normal schedule, and Commissioner Gary Bateman said the league and its clubs would suffer billions in losses – not millions – even by the 2021 season. (Gate revenue is directly and indirectly generated for about 50% of league revenue in sports accounts, and so far, only Coyotes, Panthers and Stars fans have plans, in limited capacity).
So the NHL is getting a little more aggressive in chasing revenue. For the first time, the league sold the naming rights to its division names. You may not have heard me often by the name of the MassMathular NHL East Division, but you are going to hear it on your broadcast. very. The league allowed teams to place advertisements on their helmets for the first time; Although, they are very thoughtful, I did not notice them (or the mind). Advertising in the arena, though? Holy cow, it felt like an overload. The most distinctive were the advertisements circling the glass above the board. In Tampa, it was the small Adidas logo. In Edmonton, the term “Rogers 5G” was frequently and repeatedly printed around glass. It was a lot. But, perspective: It is employing people and entertaining us.
3. It’s going to be a long season in Chicago
A game against the defending champs might not have been the best barometer, but a 5-1 drubbing by the Lightning on Wednesday felt as brutal as was inevitable for the Blackhawks. The Chicago franchise’s legend advanced to Corey Crawford (the only goalkeeper in the team’s history, an unproven trio to win the Stanley Cup). Game 1 starter Malcolm Subban made some highlight-worthy saves, but if this is the best defensive effort you can get out.
The previous season’s blue line often leaves the subbanks high and dry. The Blackhawks had a difficult time making any forecheck. No Crawford, Brandon Saad, Alex Naylander, Kirby Dach and Jonathan Toes – without a motivational replacement – are a problem. The Blackhawks eventually acknowledged what was becoming increasingly clear from their transactions: they are in a rebuild.
“We don’t have enough players, from top to bottom, to compete with the top teams,” GM Stan Bowman told me in October. “We’ve got a lot of good players, we’ve started very well on building a good team, but we still have a path, and I accept it.”
Chicago is using this season as an opportunity to delegate to young people. While it is admirable to have a plan, you have to get a feel for Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith, who are still giving their all to a higher level, but they still have assistants around them to imagine any other championship. Artists are not.
4. Bring on crime
This has been a gradual trend in the NHL over the past five seasons, with the goal average slowly ticking down (3.02 goals / second per team last season) and the average save percentage of goals scored (.910 in 2019-20) has gone. The first three Eastern Conference games alone gave us 24 goals (averaging four goals per team). Some goals I spoke to Offsen – especially on teams that had not played since March – said that without playing conditions the longer stretch would be a challenge and perhaps a shorter adjustment period. If you were wondering how a lack of proper training camps and preseason exhibitions might appear, then expect some sloppy and wide-open games – at least to start the campaign.
5. Getting Favorite is not easy
I remember I was talking to Nathan McKinnon before last season, and he said that this was the first time in Colorado Avalanche’s career that he felt his team could actually win. The former has picked up this year, thanks to Mackinnon, who is constantly playing like MVP and GM Joe Sakic, constantly making attractive moves to make this team stronger. Colorado opened as the Stanley Cup favorites in Las Vegas this season. But it was a slow start for Avi in their openers. They were very lethargic with the puck, which you can’t do against the big, tough St. Louis Blues. I was curious to see the line of Gabriel Landskog, Nazam Qadri and Brandon Saad, but they didn’t look right together, and it wasn’t long before coach Jared Bednar started blending his lines. Colorado’s typically high-functioning offense had a difficult time which creates a lot of pressure. Credit St. Louis for a strong team game. And yes, this is Game 1 only. But Bulo-Eye is now on Colorado, and it is going to get the best of every team, every night.
On Wednesday, Patrick qualified in his first NHL game in 652 days. (And you thought 2020 was long!) Then he scored for the first time on the power period (Philadelphia’s Achilles’ heel in the summer bubble). The No. 2 pick of the 2019 draft missed all of last season with a debilitating migraine disorder. It was a lively story for all seasons of Philly; GM Chuck Fletcher said in January last year that Patrick was progressing and the Flyers were optimistic that he could join for a playoff push. Philly stocked up at depth centers at last year’s trade deadline to compensate, but they are now in much better shape, with Patrick Sean playing the third-line role behind Cottier and Kevin Hayes.
Meanwhile, Lindblom played for the first time since his December 2019 cancer diagnosis. Lindblom, who had a breakout season at the time of his diagnosis, completed his last chemotherapy treatment in July.
“He’s a man. When you see him in the locker room, you want to go to a fight with him,” Hayes said. “He is a warrior. He did not look out of place.”
Even Sweet: The Flowers’ fifth goal, originally credited to Travis Konkney, was awarded to Lindblom after the game.
The Flyers’ offense broke for six goals – including three straight to close the third – to down the Pittsburgh Penguins in their opener, showing that plenty of people in hockey are expecting this year’s bout . The game actually reduced Philly’s depth. I am promoting the cup on this team.
7. Some young players to watch the rest of the season
Nils Hoaglander, the breakout star of Cannes’ training camp, is going to be the latest Swedish obsession in Vancouver. Without much competition behind them on the right wing, Hoaglander could remain in the top six for some time. A goal in the first game of the Hoglander meant that his promotion was running at a taunting pace in the Canadian media. Ditto for Alexander Romanov, as previously mentioned, is going to have a big role in Montreal, leaving behind only Shia Weber in ice time on Wednesday. The defenseman played with a ton of confidence, and Did you see this stretch pass ??
Is that vaunted possibility built system Flyers? It is now fully realized, with 2018 first-rounder Joel Farabi shining with one goal and three assists. The 20-year-old Farabi looks like he is going to take a big step. And it would be nice if Oils Kailash Yamamoto gets a full season (and one in the game against the Canucks on Wednesday) after scoring 11 goals in 27 games last season. On top power play and on the wing of Leon Drysettle, only Yamamoto’s stock will improve.
Jordan was in the limelight as an opener for the Cours Blues, and could be a reliable depth scoring option. He said that he gained 10 pounds this summer, but did not see it.
And I’m not sure if Rocky defenseman Cal Foote will play with Tampa Bay, but I get it. Coach John Cooper shelled Foote’s minutes in his NHL debut against Chicago (he just logged in at 10:47) as he certainly featured some first-game jitters, but Foote has promised. If Lightning survives his salary-cap hell, we will see that he is back in the taxi squad.
The 23-year-old American skater had the chance to be the first player to score in five straight season openers in NHL history. The first four occurred in Matthew’s first four NHL seasons. It did not happen for him against Hobbs on Wednesday, although he hit a crossbar in the third. I am still predicting that Matthews will chase Alex Ovchin for the goalscorer crown this season; He’ll just have to catch more.