It's been a week, have you had enough time to take it all in and just enjoy the new NHL?? The fast pace, the penalties being called as they should, goals, goals, and more goals?? Amazingly enough, there are people out there who hate the new game. Once I find a list of names-- we're all going to get them-- Who's coming with me??
All that aside, there are plenty of storylines coming out of the first week. In true fashion of the show-- I'll put out a list of what the hell is going on.
-The Rookies. Forget about just Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin for a minute, because we all know they will be compared to each other. Look at guys like Brent Seabrook in Chicago, who has been an amazing playmaker on the Hawks' blueline; look at someone like Thomas Vanek, who is helping the surprising Sabres become one of the sleeper teams in this young season. You can go on and on about Zach Parise in New Jersey and Dion Phaneuf in Calgary, but the point is that it is not going to be a two horse race. If Crosby and Ovechkin aren't careful, they'll lose out on the Calder Trophy.
-The Fans. In some places, you wouldn't know that there had been a work stoppage. The NHL's attendance is up 6.2% in the first eight days, compared to the same eight days in 2003. Granted, it's just a week or so in, but any upside the NHL can take out of it, they will.
-The Underdogs. Who would have thought a team like the Buffalo Sabres could take a rag-tag bunch of young players and make so much noise. Thanks to the play of new #1 goalie Ryan Miller, captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, plus the rest of the no-name Sabres, they are out to a 4-1-0 start. Here's hoping that the Sabres have finally gotten some stability. In the West, the Nashville Predators remain the only unbeaten team in the NHL. Picking up Paul Kariya in the off-season has paid some dividens, but having a core bunch of guys playing together for years is showing how much chemistry can be created in Music City, USA.
-The Senators. Is there anything that can stop this team?? You want to talk about chemistry, the Sens have done that and thensome. Jason Spezza is primed to hve a breajout season, Daniel Alfredsson is rolling putting the pucks in the net, and Dominik Hasek is looking like the "Dominator" of old. Ray Emery is there just in case Hasek were to go down. There are several outlets picking the Sens to go to the Cup finals and this time, they could prove them right.
-The Blues. For a team that has been in the playoffs for 24 consecutive seasons, this is not looking like a team who will even get a sniff at the playoffs. The youth of this team could be the downfall, but when you put a 6-3 lead and cannot hold it, then you know you have problems somewhere. Patrick Lalime has been letting up some soft goals and the big name players have yet to be seen in the Gateway to the West.
-Chronic Injuries. You know you have been without the NHL for a while when the IR show nothing but groin injuries. Most guys who have suffered said injuries have been out of competitive action for a long time and didn't condition well. It'll prove to be a long season if this injury keeps showing up-- and many players may have to get plenty of two-way bus tickets to go back and forth from the Show to the minors.
-The Naysayers. I don't know how some people are still out there who doesn't think the game is for the better. Sure, it probably shouldn't have taken 18 months to get this settled, but when it did come back, from the first night, the NHL has impressed me by actually being a better product out there. The game flows better, faster pace, and a little more exciting than it was when it left us. I just wish some Newspaper Writers and Internerd "Pundits" would just shut up and enjoy the effin' game because it's better than what we have seen in the past decade.
-The Commercials. Come on-- if I wanted to see "Gladiator.......ON ICE!!", I'll watch my copy of "Mystery, Alaska."
-The Flames. Talk about an undisciplined team. As much as I'm a "mark" for the Flames, they have been a huge disappointment. When you give up 13 goals when you're a man-down, there is something glaringly wrong with that. I'm sure that the Flames will bounce back, but the question is will it be too late when it happens??
-The Hooligans. We're only a week into the season and people are already chucking stuff on the ice. First, it was Boston hurling the mini-Stanley Cups on the ice when the Bruins lost with 11.1 left in the Third on Opening Night. Then, the Bolts fans just start hurling cups and debris on the ice when their team is called for obvious penatlies. As much I know the passion of the fans, the fact of that matter is that in no way should people hurl stuff on the ice. Let's get real people-- there's no place for that, unless you at a seafood place and you chuck your empty sea creature on the ground.
-Lack of Ice Girls. Now, where's the marketing in that?? The Ice Girls are the thing that will keep the guys interested in the game when there's nothing going on at ice level. However, there are still some teams that are late to pull the trigger on the new hotness. If they don't act fact, they'll be too late to cash in.
So that's the way I'm seeing the first week of the NHL. We'll have plenty more on here since the NHL is actually going on now and you can bet that we'll have plenty to talk about when it all goes down. Hell, as early as Monday, we'll debate the use of visors in the NHL and what should the players do when it comes to wearing one against not wearing one. So keep it tuned in here and every Wednesday Night at 9 PM ET for Face Off Hockey Show. You know you want it.
This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!