Happy second day of the NHL season!
The Colorado Avalanche are set to open their season at home against the Minnesota Wild, hoping that things go more like their 4-3 OT victory over Minnesota a few days ago and less like the 7-0 thrashing they took at the hands of their Central Division opponents a week prior.
We’ll have all of your preview goodies up in a little bit, but for now it’s time to reminisce about the first day of the season - where up was down and apparently, the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames were still mentally on vacation across the Pacific.
To kick things off, let’s discuss whatever that was that Boston did on opening night.
They got to watch the Washington Capitals hoist their championship banner up into the rafters at the
Verizon Center Capital One Arena before the game, which was a nice enough ceremony. [The Washington Post]
Then, they apparently decided that winning games was definitely for Losers, because they did just about everything in their power to avoid that!
Tuukka Rask’s season not off to the best start pic.twitter.com/MSx0VZAIEb— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 3, 2018
Nic Dowd goes backhand spin-o-rama on Rask pic.twitter.com/aKXuErVwOA— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 4, 2018
Amazingly, those were just two of FIVE GOALS allowed by Rask in the first period and a half of the game. He was chased, Jaroslav Halak went in (!!!!!), and allowed two more goals of his own to finish the game with a 7-0 decision in favor of the defending champs.
Washington apparently knew how to get their season off with a bang:
The Caps are borrowing lessons from college: If you stay drunk, there's no such thing as a Stanley Cup championship hangover.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) October 4, 2018
To add in to the fun, Brad Marchand lost his goddamn mind and fought Lars Eller, who prior to this game was probably one of the few NHLers that no one ever wanted to fight.
His reasoning, too, was rock-solid, as the king of antagonism claimed that he was upset Eller had celebrated the seventh goal scored by Washington and it was mean or something:
“HiS cElEbRaTiOn WaS uNnEcEsSaRy” pic.twitter.com/FNkeGUzEBO— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) October 4, 2018
In any case, it was an idiot showing at the Moulin Rouge, which is particularly impressive since it didn’t feature Tom Wilson. That particular suspension magnet is currently serving 20 games for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. [Deadspin]
As one coach I spoke to explained it, the league almost certainly veered off from trying to penalize the hit in a vacuum - although it likely would have gotten around 5-10 games itself - and entered warning territory, more or less giving Wilson one last chance to figure himself out.
The particularly intriguing part of the suspension, of course, is that Wilson will owe more money in salary lost than he’s slated to make in regular season salary this year, thanks to a massive signing bonus he received at the start of the summer. This means that, although he’s certainly not strapped for cash, he won’t get a single paycheque from the team all year, even once he returns from his suspension (which he’ll get to serve out alongside former teammate Nate Schmidt, who’s out 20 games for a banned substance suspension).
I don’t want to say that the Canucks are good, because they’re still somehow quite bad. But hey, that Elias Pettersson kid!
Anyways, they walloped a Calgary defense that didn’t seem to fully understand what day it was and a very angry, peak-mid-season Mike Smith who looked like he was just composing excuses to blame his teammates in his head all game.
There’s a chance that this was just early season rust, like with Boston. If the Capitals are still drunk, Boston and Calgary are dealing with one hell of a jet lag recovery and apparently still getting over their trek of the Great Wall, so when they’ve re-acclimated to North America maybe they’ll get it all together.
Then again, Tuukka Rask was an unmitigated disaster, and Calgary will need to figure out how to shelter Smith if they plan on getting anything done.
In the other games, somehow Montreal managed not to lose in regulation, which was absolutely incredible. Good for them! They did, however, lose in OT to Auston Matthews:
Marleau to Matthews for the Leafs win in OT pic.twitter.com/iipC11pSJ7— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 4, 2018
If you want a terrifying statistic, here you go:
Auston Matthews has 7 opening night goals.— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) October 4, 2018
It’s his 3rd NHL season.
He’s really good folks.
The San Jose Sharks also opened against the Anaheim Ducks, who... did not give Martin Jones a very good night. Jones finished the game having allowed four goals on 14 shots faced all night (!!!), a particularly impressive statistic given that he played the whole game.
In any case, Erik Karlsson got off just one shot on goal and didn’t manage to rack up any points, having a mediocre outing in a 5-2 loss for the NorCal team.
In San Jose’s credit, though, they absolutely walked Anaheim’s blue line on both of their goals, including this one:
Evander Kane nutmegs Josh Manson and scores pic.twitter.com/8LrVXQToCB— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 4, 2018
In some brighter, less goal chaos news:
Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins is doing some good this year, donating money to a youth-based charity for every save he makes. It’s a fantastic use of his career for some seriously important philanthropy. [Pensburgh]
Oh, and I’m going to bed, but check out the fun the New Jersey Devils are having right now!
Ok this is really good: