It seems premature, I know, to try and draw anything from the NHL after most teams have only
played one game. but we have to keep track of information as best we can in such a condensed schedule. It might seem obvious but it’s a necessary exercise to keep us from sticking with our bias towards any player/team. So this is what I learned over the first two games (in no particular order):
- These are NOT your Detroit Red Wings of the last few years or the last decade for that matter. They are an old team (most of their core players are well into their 30s) and the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom cannot be overstated anymore. They allowed 36 shots against and only had 14 for. Not only that, but if you look at the minor penalties they took (two holding, two hooking and one interference) you know that they took the penalties because they couldn’t keep up with the speed of St. Louis. This could be a long, long season for Detroit fans (and Jimmy Howard owners).
- Sticking with the St. Louis/Detroit game, Vladimir Tarasenko is as advertised. On his first goal, he completely schooled Kyle Quincey by tying up his stick to get himself in position to receive the outlet pass, faked a shot on Howard and snapped it low blocker. The second goal was a highlight reel goal, going outside/inside deke of Quincey then brought it back to the forehand to shelf it on Howard. This kid looks like he is going to be a gem.
- As I mentioned in the Week 1 H2H preview for the guys at Sportsjerks, those of you with Henrik Lundqvist had better be prepared for a week of pain. So far in his first two games he’s allowed seven goals on 52 shots, good for an .865 SV%. While this won’t be representative of his whole season, it’s not going to get any easier from here with Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia the rest of this week.
- People are going to need to be wary of back-to-back situations (and I’ll keep you informed of that). There were eight teams that played Sunday games who also played Saturday. Of those eight teams, three of them went with the same goalie: Phoenix – Mike Smith, Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist, Philadelphia – Ilya Bryzgalov. Those three goalies combined to allow 14 goals on 89 shots, or an .843 SV% in their second game. Considering Smith and Lundqvist were among league leaders last year, this is worrisome. At least for the time being, I’d be very concerned about playing any goalie in a back-to-back situation.
- In case you forgot, the Chicago Blackhawks are a very talented hockey team. They scored 11 goals as a team on the weekend against two of the game’s best in Jonathan Quick of Los Angeles and Mike Smith. Marian Hossa led the way with two goals in each contest with Patrick Kane racking up four points. The scary thing is, if you try to shut down these guys, then Patrick Sharp or Jonathan Toews will step up. On another note, Patrick Kane looks like a more determined player. His knock wasn’t the skill, it was the will. Maybe having your mom live with you is a good thing.
- The goalie situations I warned about in the last week or so are bearing out like I thought they might. Braden Holtby of Washington allowed six goals on 34 shots in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay; Jaroslav Halak got the shutout for St. Louis, but it is likely that Brian Elliott will still get the next start (but we will have to wait and see for sure); Cory Schneider got absolutely shelled by Anaheim on Saturday night, allowing five goals on 14 shots before being yanked in favor of Roberto Luongo. Luongo then went on to have a stellar start on Sunday for the Canucks (depsite a weak-ish second goal), allowing just two goals on 32 shots before losing in a shootout.
- Staying out of the penalty box will be critical to any team’s success, at least in the early going. This is what I mean: Carolina allowed three power-play goals in the first period against Florida en route to a 5-1 loss; St. Louis scored four power-play goals in their drubbing of Detroit; All three goals scored in the Montrea/Toronto snooze-fest were with the man advantage; Tweleve of the 19 games this weekend saw teams combine for at least two power-play goals. At this point of the season, the skill is there while the systems/conditioning is not. Advantage: power-play.
- I’ll admit when I’m wrong – Patrick Kane is off to a great start while Sidney Crosby is not – but I’m also right once in a while too. Tuukka Rask of Boston was very good for the Bruins in his first start of the season, allowing just one goal on 21 shots to out-duel Henrik Lundqvist in the season opener. He is a good one for the Bruins and he will only improve from here.
- Rick Nash is in mid-season form for the New York Rangers. I was not as high on him as others going into the year, but he is proving me wrong. He has a goal and an assist in his first two games with seven shots and six hits. That’s very good, not great I know. But he has his legs under him and is using his body against defenders who have no answer for his size and skill. Once he develops some chemistry with Brad Richards, look out.
- If you can figure out the L.A. Kings, you’re a better person than I. After steamrolling the competition in the playoffs last year and having an extended period of time to rest up because of the lockout, they looked flat and disinterested in their banner-raising home opener. They need to realize they don’t have time to piss away 3/4 of the regular season like they did last year and get things in gear. If not, they could be looking at golf packages come the end of April.
That’s what I took away from this weekend’s action. Is there anything you took away from the weekend that I missed? Tweet me @SlimCliffy and let me know! Enjoy your day off today, my American friends, but don’t forget why you have it off.