October 10 2010 10:42AM
After the allegedly cataclysmic opener to the Flames' season. It seemed appropriate to actually watch a few other teams play before delving into matters around the league, if only to ascertain whether it was possible for other teams to lose a game. With that fact confirmed, we can move on. In this week's review, the Flames examine the wreckage, the Champs are off to a slow start, and the League of Nations welcomes a new member.
I felt compelled to use the word allegedly in the opening sentence because that seems to be the atmosphere amongst the fanbase. It's one game. One dreadful, sloppy, stupidly played game, to be sure, but still, only one game. The coaching staff might not entirely agree with my sentiments, though, as the happy talk of the preseason gave way to a few raised voices at yesterday's practice, with the Captain one of the participants.
Jarome Iginla getting the hair dryer treatment from the coaches was deserved, really. He spent virtually the entire night cheating for offence, just as he's spent the last two seasons doing, and his results in Edmonton looked about the same as the ones that his efforts rated at last season's denoument.
The entire squad was openly poor, though. The best forwards in particular looked like a very poor imitation of a top six, with lazy play not solely the province of Iginla. That sort of recurring effort won't do, and they could stand to get back on the horse this evening against the Kings. L.A. held the all-but-coronated Conference Champs to 24 shots and one goal in a shoot-out victory, with Anze Kopitar scoring in the skills competition after depositing a few chiclets on the ice at Rogers Arena last night.
The Kings look about the same as last season, in that they suppress the other team's offence with persistently good board work. Willie Mitchell appeared back to health as well, playing nearly 18 minutes at EV with increasing matchups against the Sedins as the night progressed.
They could use some reinforcements tonight, but it does appear as if help for the Flames might be on the way, even if it isn't in the immediate future. This morning's skate brings news of a return to the ice for David Moss and Daymond Langkow. Langkow's return is a) welcome, and b) unexpected after Jay Feaster's chinwag with the local press last week.
Matt Stajan has also rejoined the proceedings, and Moss and Stajan will likely return before the end of the month. Langkow returning at any point would be good, but he's had one set-back already this fall, so I'm not jumping the gun.
The other teams in the division have also opened their seasons, with mixed results. In Stinktown, it's all sunshine and puppies after the Oil's emphatic pantsing of the Flames. Edmonton also returns to matters tonight, with the visiting Panthers set to open their season at the Pharmaceum. Darcy Hordichuk will skate for the Panthers after being set free in Vancouver, but I'll be more curious to see how our man Higgins acquits himself.
Colorado is also off to a good start, beating the champs on opening night in OT. They were full value as well, outshooting the Hawks quite handily at EV. I watched bits and pieces of that encounter when I wasn't shaking my head at the Flames' crapulence, and the pace those two teams played at was intriguing, in that both clubs appeared capable of skating faster than 2.4 MPH. Odd, that.
The Cup champions in waiting hit a roadblock in their home opener last night, as mentioned earlier. One thing that should be remembered regarding the Dys is that they built last year's excellent scoring on the back of a fine PP and good overall percentages. They have many nice players, but if Vancouver doesn't quite score as many goals as last year, that will be more about luck catching up to them as anything else.
Minnesota is off to exactly the sort of start that seemed to doom them last year, gaining only one point against the Canes in Finland. It sounds like Guillaume Latendresse is not exactly in the coaching staff's good book, with conditioning the alleged sticking point. I also noticed that Eric Nystrom is roughly as I remember him, i.e. on the wrong end of the shot clock, although it appears Todd Richards didn't do him any favours with his starting position.
The Penguins lost another difficult game last night, victimized again by the evil Habs in a game they dominated. PIttsburgh has played very well in their two games, and have exactly nothing to show for it, although last night was a point squandered on a terrible goal by Scott Gomez. The Pens' weak link was always consider to be on the wings, but there's a chance that it might well be in net, and they're stuck with Fleury because of his contract.
Speaking of teams off to a less than happy start, the Hawks lost in their banner-raiser last night to the Red Wings. Their forwards didn't exactly light it up in terms of shots, and as much as a team's top players make the difference, the Hawks did rely on quality depth the last two seasons as they built to a championship. I'd guess that they'll miss Ladd and Versteeg more than they might have thought.
Mr. Versteeg's current outfit is in good form through two, as they smoked the Senators last night 5-1. Ottawa apparently decided that taking the night off was a better use of their time, as they were out-shot 38-18, and were full value for the hiding they took. That does lead us to a piece of news, as it appears that Wanye has added another blog to our stable.
A NEW SITE LAUNCHES
TheLeafsNation went live yesterday, with Pension Plan Puppets acting as ringleader. Welcome, Leafs Nation. This will be the last civil thing I say about any matter that is remotely related to your team all season, so savour it ;-)
Off-ice, it appears that Don Fehr is progressing on his path towards the head of the NHLPA, after the executive committee approved his ascension unanimously earlier in the week. I'm not of the opinion that his arrival means labour apocalypse, unless you consider a fair match between labour and management to be a bad thing. If nothing else, I'm looking forward to a few Fehr-Bettman verbal jousts to enliven proceedings.
That's all for today. Pat and Ryan will be by later with the set-ups for tonight's encounter with the Kings. If you have anything you've noticed, the comments are, as always, open.