Looking like they were skating in 2 inches of mud, the Senators couldn't seem to get anything going in either the 1st or 3rd periods. And when they did get their chances in a fairly decent 2nd period, Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding for the New York Rangers.
There's lots of excuses if you want them. Starting on the road. A long layoff after their final pre-season game. New players still trying to find chemistry.
It doesn't matter. If there were butterflies, they should be gone now.
Pascal Leclaire was really good in goal despite the 5-2 score. He made some really difficult stops but had no chance on most of the others
Rookie Erik Karlsson looked like a rookie. It was obvious that he was very tight in the early going and was just trying not to make a mistake rather than play his usual high octane game.
And when you try not to make mistakes, you make them by the bushel.
His passes were so carefully placed that they had no zip on them and he occasionally got his signals crossed in his own end, in one instance leading directly to a goal by Brandon Dubinsky in the 1st period.
But he made up for that mistake by backchecking ferociously and stopping a breakaway by Artem Anisimov in the 2nd and seemed to snap out of his trance late in the 3rd by making some nice passes to forwards going at full speed.
He'll be better once he realizes he's an NHL player and stops being so starstruck.
Matt Carkner really impressed by playing exactly the same way he did in the pre-season. He looked like a veteran out there and even had two really good offensive chances early in the game by choosing to take two hard shots which Lundqvist had to stop with some difficulty. Carkner then went on to fight Donald Brashear late in the 3rd after jawing with the Ranger enforcer all game and did well in the scrap.
Otherwise, there wasn't much to see other than a hockey squad looking to uptight to really play their hustle and puck pursuit game the way they meant to.
Next up, Toronto.
THEY FIXED THE SOCKS!!!!!!
It seems the Ottawa Senators are intent on spoiling us all of a sudden. First, they bring back the Senators theme song at the start of games. Now.... they fixed their freaking ugly socks.
I'm not sure what the Senators were thinking with that previous design but they are now back in the fashion good books. I haven't had a chance to see if Calgary or Tampa Bay have also done the same thing with their similar looking socks.
One thing I do know about Calgary, their retro uni's look fantastic. It seems like the tide is finally turning from the dark and dreary 90's when bright colours died off in the NHL. With Philly, Calgary and Edmonton rehashing their 70's and 80's style jerseys, the NHL is starting to "pop" on television once again. Dark and subtle tones don't look good on television. Bright, classic colours with clean, straight stripes do.
It's just too bad Theo Fleury isn't around to put that bright orange jersey on again.
The conventional wisdom that always gets spouted on sports talk radio shows is that the NHL is a sub-par league, struggling financially, marketing inept, and run by a commissioner who doesn't know what he is doing.
As is the case with most cliches that talking heads can spout to their audience without actually having to do any research, that "conventional wisdom" is dead wrong. In fact, Gary Bettman is being hailed as a genius among all sports owners, not just NHL owners, first for breaking the players union during the recent lockout (David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail recently said the union has degenerated into a "laughingstock") and for winning big over renegade poacher Jim Ballsillie.
People point to sore spots such as the Coyotes mess and the lack of a truly national television deal in the United States, but in essence, the league has never been doing better, both on and off the ice.
Globe and Mail business writer Brian Milner sees an NHL that is thriving in a global recession.
"...as the league embarks on its 92nd season, indicators point to a sport that is more than holding its own in the increasingly fierce battle for the shrinking entertainment buck.
League revenue stands at a record high. Ticket sales are holding steady even as prices rise in some markets, and star players are drawing big crowds. The sport is enjoying a resurgence in some old hockey towns such as Chicago and Boston, while the Montreal Canadiens sold this year for a record price. Television ratings are picking up. "
He notes that some Southern teams are still struggling but the core of the league remains strong, protecting it from what was once thought to be an inevitable implosion.
For many, especially elitist Canadian hockey snobs who believe the league should be a tiny, regional operation not much bigger than the CFL, Gary Bettman can never be given credit for anything.
But in truth, Bettman is now revered in the sports ownership world, along with his associate Bill Daly, the deputy commisioner. Beating Ballsillie means that a legal court has affirmed the right of professional sports leagues to determine, to a large extent, where they can operate their own franchises.
If, as a Canadian hockey fan, you feel that Bettman has insulted Canada by not allowing the Coyotes to move to Hamilton, just think of how much more protected the existing Canadian franchises are from someone coming in and trying to move them to the United States.
Small market fans in Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary should be sending thank you notes to the commish, not hate mail.
"Other NHL governors also declined to speak, or rather gloat, publicly. But several had plenty to say anonymously.
“I don't care if our share is $5-million [for the legal costs and the Coyotes' losses this season],” one said. “I'll send a thank-you note along with the cheque.”
Another owner said he “will gladly pay the bills,” because “this could have set a very dangerous precedent for all sports franchises.”
-Globe and Mail