Some day-after reflections from the NHL’s opening night:
• With Andrei Markov out of the lineup until after the Olympics, the Montreal Canadiens will have an impossible time replacing his offense. But judging by the way the Canadiens played in their own end in their 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, what has to scare the bejeepers out of them is what they’ll be losing defensively from the back end. The Canadiens were putrid and things won’t get any better after losing their best two-way defenseman.
• We all heard about how the Leafs were going to be more truculent and full of belligerent testosterone – or something like that – but if they’re going to take that many gratuitous penalties, shouldn’t they have concentrated on improving their penalty-killing unit? It was terrible last season and it didn’t look any better in Game 1 of this season.
• If you’re a Calgary Flames fan, you have to be thrilled with the way Miikka Kiprusoff started the season. Kiprusoff is a notoriously slow starter, but stopped 39 shots and looked spectacular in a win over the Vancouver Canucks.
• Dany Heatley was minus-3 and had just three shots in his debut with the San Jose Sharks. No word yet on whether the slow start has prompted any trade demands.
• This is scary. The Boston Bruins blocked eight of Alex Ovechkin’s shots, but Ovechkin still managed to score two goals on the five that hit the net. That means even if you devise a game plan to take away Ovechkin’s primary weapon, he still ends up burning you. By the way, don’t you think it’s only a matter of time before Ovechkin breaks Phil Esposito’s record for shots on goal in a season? Esposito had 550 in 1970-71.
• The more you watch Craig Anderson, the more you realize he’s a legitimate No. 1 goalie. The Avalanche was outshot 19-1 in the third period of their 5-2 win over San Jose and Anderson didn’t allow a goal. After re-entering the draft in 2001 when the Flames cut him loose and spending the past eight years bouncing between the NHL and the minors, being picked up three different times on waivers along the way, Anderson is making the most of his first chance to prove he belongs.
• Only in Toronto could the team have an in-game promotion that only highlights fans who have a credit card belonging to one of the team’s primary sponsors.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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