With last weekend's European chicanery behind them the NHL officially kicked off on Thursday night. Excitement. Passion. Ice. The lead singer from Def Leppard putting the Stanley Cup upside down on the podium! Nothing says Detroit like Def Leppard! Digression. There were 4 games for the "real" start of the 2008-09 season. Former Islanders already kicked it in to high gear with major contributions in 3 of those tilts. Welcome back FIs old and new! Let us take a look:
Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood did not get off to a hot start like he has for the last 2 seasons. Ozzie took the loss as the Red Wings lost on Championship Banner raising night, at home, against Toronto! What blasphemers. It could be a long season for the defending champs if they do not shake off what looked like a fine layer of rust as the Maple Leafs edged the hosts 3-2. Osgood stopped 26 of 29 shots faced but was let down by his offense. Ozzie starts the season 0-1-0 for the first time since before the lockout when he kicked off the 2003-04 campaign with a loss while still the starter for the St. Louis Blues.
Professional giant, ummm, Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara got his offensive season off to a start quickly as the Bruins eked by the host Colorado Avalanche 5-4. Chara had a powerplay assist on Boston's third goal which at the time knotted the game at 3. Can Chara improve on his single season high 51 points from last year? Can Chara get over the -3 rating that he also incurred? Can Chara be defeated with merely a rock and a slingshot? All these and more are questions we hope are answered this season.
There are 3 ways that players can start a season and say, "That felt good". 1. Hat trick, 2. shutout and 3. no concussion (we call that the "Patrice Bergeron hat trick"). Vancouver goaltender and captain Roberto Luongo managed to seal up number 2 on Thursday night as he stopped all 25 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the season. At the current pace, Luongo will finish the season with a 70-0-0 record with a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 goals against average. Sadly, he will still lose the Vezina Trophy voting to Martin Brodeur. Also getting involved in the 6-0 Canucks' slaughter over the visiting Calgary Flames was center Taylor Pyatt. T-Py received a powerplay assist on the 5th goal of the game midway through the 3rd period. As an obscure fact, Pyatt has never notched his first point of a season in the first game of the season. In fact, over the last three seasons (in backwards order) T-Py has had 4, 3 and 3 game slumps before notching his first point. Way to go Taylor!
Check back for more updates as it is gonna be a busy weekend around the NHL.