Sunday, October 5, 2008

Impressions from NHL Premiere Weekend

Well, I've already given my view on how the league put together this European Sojourn, so I'll focus in this post on the hockey itself...

Rangers-Lightning Games

Given that the Rangers won each contest, it's predictable that I would say they're the better team, but I was struck by a couple of things by New York (good) and Tampa Bay (bad).

New York Rangers

Man, Chris Drury and Scott Gomez sure can skate well with the puck. Particularly when they were on the Power Play, I felt like I was constantly watching last year's free agent pickups skate past people to gain the zone. It's a choice of styles as to whether teams dump and chase or try to skate into the offensive zone, and the Rangers sure have the guys to skate the puck in... at least when they're playing Tampa Bay.

Between they and new Ranger Markus Nasland (as well as Super Sophomore Brandon Dubinsky), I think there's enough scoring there, so it will be interesting to see how the defense (including highly suspect acquisition Wade Redden) fares in front of excellent netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Interesting team that Tampa. By interesting, I mean to say here not so great. They managed to get outshot 41-21 in the first game and then 39-19 in the second. If not for some excellent goaltending from first Mike Smith and then Olaf Kolzig, the games wouldn't even have been close.

The Lightning Marketing Department, though, feels Tampa fans shouldn't fear... they have the subject of the to lead them. Steven Stamkos may both be a good player now and turn out to be an excellent one, but I completely agree with this blog post from Mike Chen on Kukla's Korner... no need for the team to set expectations so high on a rookie. As for Stamkos' actual performance, he had at least two rookie errors in the second game... one by icing the puck on a Power Play with about 3 minutes remaining and one by taking a cheap hooking penalty down a goal with a minute to go.

Now that I've covered New York and Tampa Bay, I would like to get into the Pittsburgh-Ottawa games, but... the Sunday VS. coverage wasn't in HD so I didn't really watch. Instead of hockey, the VS. HD channel was showing coverage of the "inagural Turning Stone Championship at Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, N.Y."

Yep, quite the opening weekend for the NHL.

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