Sunday, October 4, 2009

First Impressions of Opening Weekend

-The Central division is the power division of the NHL. Chicago, Columbus, and St.Louis all look like they're ready to join the discussion as legitemate contenders in the Western Conference. Chicago's elite level offence including names like Kane, Toews, Sharp, Bolland, Hossa, Byufglien and maybe the best all around blueline corps in the league with Keith, Seabrook, Campbell and Barker manning the top 4, however how far will their goaltending (Huet) take them? The Columbus Blue Jackets have an offence that is becoming one of the league's best with Nash, Huselius, Umberger, Filatov, Modin, Voracek and Brassard, a goaltender that won the Calder Trophy last year (Steve Mason) however can Ken Hitchcock's system mask their underwhelming D corps? Finally the St.Louis Blues served notice with two straight wins over the Wings this weekend that they have arrived with a elite forward corps consisting of names like Tkachuk, Kariya, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund, Andy McDonald, David Perron and budding power forward David Backes. However beyond Erik Johnson the D corps is lacking playmakers and how long can career backup Chris Mason keep up his hot play?

-Alex Ovechkin is on a mission this year. He didn't like watching the Penguins win the cup especially after defeating his Caps in the second round. He is coming out on fire and his team is following suit. Playing the Capitals isn't going to be fun this year.

-The Vancouver Canucks have come out of the gate very flat, especially Roberto Luongo. Yes he is a notorious slow starter but he's supposed to be the leader of his team and right now his team is following him in the wrong direction.

-As shown in their game against Carolina, and probably motivated by their second round ouster at the hands of the Canes, the Bruins are once again going to use physical intimidation as their main tool to rule the East once again.

-The Philadelphia Flyers and Ray Emery have come out and played to expectations so far with Emery leading the way with two very good goaltending performances.

-Carey Price has stolen 4 points for the Habs to start the season. And with Andrei Markov out for 4 months and and a suprisingly good Ryan O'Byrne out for the next 6 weeks, Price is going to have to keep standing on his head to keep the Habs in it till those two come back.

-John Tavares had a very impressive debut with a goal and an assist.

-The Ottawa Senators look just as bad as they did last year. Their defence still sucks and Dany Heatley's goals are going to be much harder to replace then the canadian media are letting on.

-Brian Burke's much ballyhoode new defence has been less then impressive to say the least. Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin were awful against Montreal and then the whole team collapsed against Washington. Unless they tighten up it's going to be a long year for Vesa Toskala and "The Monster".

-Calgary, with Bouwmeester taking a lot of pressure off of Dion Phaneuf which has lead to far more confident play, is looking like they will challenge to be the class of the west.

-I was very impressed with the Oilers and the way they played against Calgary, particularly Sam Gagner, and if it wasn't for Khabibulin's puck handling skills they had a good chance to beat Calgary.

-It's going to be a long, drawn out battle for the Pacific between San Jose and Anaheim. I'll take Anaheim, more depth and their goaltending has proved to be far more clutch then anything San Jose has.

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