But, thanks to the wonders of NHL Game Centre, I’ve been able to sample several games with a full slate of 15 games on tap for Saturday.
Some early impressions though:
The Minnesota Wild are going to be a force in the WC this season. Their 5-0 victory over the Avalanche Thursday night indicates a certain level of excellence but, if you didn’t watch the game, you would have no idea the dominating performance it really was. The Wild were credited with 48 SOG and Colorado blocked another 8 attempts but, after having a 5-0 lead at the end of the 2nd period, the Wild took their collective foot off the gas and, even then, won the shots battle 10-3 in the 3rd period.
Zach Parise had NINE shots all by himself and Mikael Granlund played like the emerging star that he is.
The Edmonton Oilers made their home debut and promptly did a face plant.
While they certainly outplayed the Flames most of the way, their defensive coverage at times was beyond pathetic. It’s hard to imagine how players who have made it to the NHL, even playing for the Oilers, would have so little defensive awareness that they can leave players unmarked in the slot over and over and over.
Oiler fans also need to pay close attention to their goaltending. Ben Scrivens was awful last night and it bears repeating that despite some early heroics last season, he did not finish the season very well. Viktor Fasth gets the start in Vancouver on Saturday night, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs against the Canucks and, even more importantly, which tender draws the short straw and goes up against the Kings next week.
The Vancouver Canucks have to be pleased with their first game against the Flames. Goalie Ryan Miller looked very good, the Sedins displayed a lot of the Sedinery that won them scoring titles and Radim Vrbata looks comfortable on that line and scored his first goal as a Canuck. Another “monkey off the back” moment came early in the game when Alex Burrows scored his 1st of the season…something that didn’t happen until his 36th game last year. If Burrows can put up a 20-25 goal season, the Canucks will have the secondary scoring they’ve been looking for.
The best game played in the league so far this season came Thursday night when the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars went to a shootout. Patrick Kane scored the winner (what else is new) but the Stars were the better team throughout a game that was fast and furious from beginning to end. The Stars will likely be the most entertaining team in the league to watch this season.
So, 15 games on tap Saturday….take a peek at the rematch between Colorado and Minnesota if you have the opportunity. I would imagine the Avalanche will put up more of a fight in their home opener but, man, are the Wild ever good.