I am so happy that the NHL Network finally used their HD capabilities for the start of the season. It’s great to start out the season with HD hockey.
Marc Crawford’s comment about the Kings’ season opener in London being the highlight of the season for the team and that being the reason he was there as an announcer was priceless. What a way to start out the broadcast. Crow is clearly not used to being a color commentator and he said “uh” a few times at the beginning of the broadcast, but he improved as the game continued and it’ll be interesting to hear his thoughts about the games as the season progresses.
The fact that there’s no longer a TV timeout when a team ices the puck should make the game a bit faster this season. Since the team icing the puck can’t change up and they don’t get the break of the TV timeout, teams will probably try harder not to ice the puck.
One of the other rules that should make an impact on the game this year is the puck dropping in the offensive zone for teams on the power play, no matter where the penalty occurs. They had a bit of confusion with this rule in the second game of the season, but I’m sure the finer points will be discussed and all the refs will have the same understanding of the rule soon.
Since today’s games were technically the Lightning & Senators’ home games, I was surprised to see the Lightning and the Senators wearing their home jerseys. The NHL went back to home teams wearing white this season and I thought the first two games of the year in Europe would follow this. I’m glad to see the NHL returning to the home team wearing white jerseys. Since most team’s white jerseys look very similar, I think it’s better to see the visiting team wearing their dark jerseys. Though many teams have switched to mostly black away jerseys (like the Kings, the Flyers, etc.) instead of using their colors and have used their other color in their third jerseys or just trim colors, a lot of teams (including the Senators and the Rangers) still have much more colorful jerseys. The home team wearing white makes things more colorful for the fans as their team plays different teams throughout the season and I appreciate that. Once you’ve seen one white jersey, you’ve seen ‘em all.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Rangers in Prague, Czech Republic
Fortunately, there were no problems with the arena lights or any other problems, as the opener in London experienced last season.
I expected the Rangers to win the first game against the Lightning. The Lightning definitely looked out of sync quite a few times during the game (especially on the power play, but they looked better than I expected them to look in their first game this season. I still don’t expect much of them this season, but they’re not as much of a “hot mess” (as my sister would say) as I thought they would be in the first game of the NHL season.
The Rangers’ only power play goal ended up being the game winning goal and they won in Jagr’s home country without Jagr. As someone who’s not a fan of Jagr’s, the comment about the Rangers using “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead” as their theme song this year, since they got rid of Jagr made me smile. Mike Milbury seemed very happy that the Rangers got rid of Jagr and I’m sure everyone on the Rangers is happy about it, too.
Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm, Sweden
When Kennedy scored the first goal for the Penguins just 40 seconds into the game, I had a feeling the Pens/Sens game would be interesting. They didn’t let me down. This game went back and forth, in spite of the many penalties the Senators had and power play chances the Penguins got as a result. The Penguins are definitely missing Gonchar and Whitney on the power play. They’re clearly still adjusting their power play and working on figuring out how to be effective. With any luck, they’ll figure that one out soon. Fortunately, the fact that they don’t have their power play back up to their normal standards made the 2nd game of the NHL season much more interesting.
Both teams scored shorthanded goals (including a breakaway by Malkin and a goal by Spezza in a 2-on-1).
If you had told me Tyler Kennedy would score the first and last goal of this game (considering that he got 10 goals in the 55 games he played last season), I would have thought you were nuts. What a way for Kennedy to start the season. His overtime goal where he stole the puck was great to watch.
Gerber definitely let in a few weak goals, but I have to agree with the minority opinion that keeping Gerber as a number one goalie is better than picking up Khabibulin. Martin Gerber had a slightly better save percentage last season and seems to be a bit more consistent lately. There’s a reason the Blackhawks went out and got Cristobol Huet. Of course, what I think doesn’t matter and it seems pretty clear that the Senators are going to end up with Khabibulin on their team. Maybe they’ll get lucky and it’ll work out well for them.
If today’s games are any indication, tomorrow’s games from the Czech Republic and Sweden will be very interesting. It’s great to see the hockey season get off to such an exciting start.