The big guns aren't providing much punch. Of the Lightning's four goals, third-line winger Ryan Craig has three. "The guys with the push and who are producing are going to play," coach John Tortorella told the St. Pete Times. "I don't care what your name is, what you're making, what draft pick you were. It doesn't matter." Are you listening, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards?
The Shane Doan-Ladislav Nagy-Steve Reinprecht line had four goals and seven assists in a 6-3 win over the sad-sack Islanders, tying the club record for goals on opening night. But Phoenix isn't showing much else offensively. The remaining 15 players have combined for only 10 points, with six forwards yet to get off the schneid.
The Pens, who earned their first season-opening game since 1999 and shooting to start a season with two home wins for the first time in 10 years, are showing some serious guts on the penalty-kill. Part of the reason they were 10 for 10 on the PK against the Flyers on Thursday was the fact that nine players combined for 22 blocked shots.
To say the Leafs have improved in net would be a slight understatement. In three games Andrew Raycroft has allowed six goals on 103 shots for a stellar .941 save percentage. After three games last season Ed Belfour had allowed 12 goals on 84 shots (.857). It's too early to say Raycroft is back to his Calder-winning form, but he's definitely better than the 2005-06 version that sported a 3.71 GAA.
The Anze Kopitar era has begun with a flurry. After notching two goals in his first NHL game, Kopitar ripped off three assists the next night. The 19-year-old rookie is drawing raves from coach Marc Crawford. "He's a big-time talent, no doubt about it," Crawford told the Los Angeles Times. "You tell him something once and he goes out and does it. He's a coach's son."
If having one Alex (Ovechkin) was good, what about a second (Alex Semin)? "I don't rate them one and two," coach Glen Hanlon told the Washington Post. "After I thank God at night for having a great wife, I say a quiet prayer for having those two guys on my team. Olie [Olaf Kolzig] usually gets in on that one, as well."
Talk about making a good first impression. In his first game with the Panthers, Todd Bertuzzi tied a career high with his first four-point game since 2003, in an 8-3 win over Boston. Florida had never scored more than four goals in a season opener. The offense is clicking, but the goaltending is another story. Alex Auld has a somewhat respectable 3.22 GAA, but 41-year-old Ed Belfour is sporting a 9.06 after giving up four goals on nine shots Saturday.
Nikolai Khabibulin had a 5.58 GAA after allowed 11 goals in two games -- yet he has a win. That's because his offense came up huge on opening night in an 8-6 win over the Predators. Khabibulin couldn't remember a game where he allowed six goals and won, but he did recall playing in Winnipeg and coughing up seven in a 7-7 tie. Of course, that happened to be against Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers.
With Manny Legace between the pipes to start the season, it was the sixth straight year in which St. Louis has had a new opening-day goalie. Legace followed Patrick Lalime, Chris Osgood, Fred Brathwaite, Brent Johnson and Roman Turek. When Dan Hinote and Bill Guerin each scored Thursday, it marked the fifth time in team history that two or more players had scored in their Blues debut.
It may be a while before there's anything positive about this woeful club. To say the offense stumbled out of the gate would be stating the obvious, as one player (Viktor Kozlov) has more than a point. But at least the Isles have this to look forward to: Following their four-game opening road trip, they will leave the Eastern Time Zone only once during the rest of the season -- Nov. 15 at Dallas.