The first game in the NHL this season is in the books. It was the first time an NHL regular season game was played in Europe and while it was a while before the worked the kinks out, the game went off pretty much without a hitch. Here's some observations from the first game that I saw.
-It was a little surprising to see that Jonathan Bernier got the start for the Kings, but he put on a great show for the Kings in the 4-1 win. Jason LaBarbera seems to have been usurped again from the starting gig. There's going to be a lot of questions if Labarbera can't get his game in tack, like the mojo that he's only an AHL caliber goalie. As for Bernier, should he stay up the whole season and play like he did today-- I wouldn't be surprised to see him win the Calder.
-The Ducks are without Teemu Selanne, Scott Niedermayer, and Dustin Penner; but they looked very sluggish on the offensive side of things. They did outshoot the Kings 27-21, but they didn't seem to have too many quality chances. Randy Carlyle is going to have to change some things around with the lines and get the fire lit under guys like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf; both of whom are supposed to pick up the slack and get something going in the absence of the big names.
-I think all fantasy owners and Kings fans can rest easy about Mike Cammalleri. I think many were wondering what would happen after he got his arbitration ruling of 2-years $6.7M. With two goals and an amazing game-- Cammalleri is showing he is worth the money.
-Look out for Anze Kopitar this season. I have my doubts that he'll have a sophomore slump, especially the power game he had today and the fact he won the MVP of that oddball Red Bull tournament in Austria; Kopitar is looking to turn some heads and get some pub about himself out there.
-A good turnout to the O2 arena, with plenty of jerseys in the crowd from all around. Thank goodness for London being a flight hub. It was definitely interesting to see the wide variety of NHL jerseys and European jerseys. I think CBC said that all but one team in the British Elite League was represented in the crowd. Considering all the other things going on in England (rugby and premier league) it was pretty nice to see those in the crowd.
-The ice was odd, wasn't it. The smaller neutral zone, the higher boards-- it was an interesting scene on TV and I'm sure just as odd on the ice. Just imagine someone like Andy McDonald trying to hope the boards and then looking like he was in pee-wee hockey struggling to get over the boards.
-The Ducks really need to get rid of the wordmark for the logo. Not only is it a piece of crap, but on the new jerseys, the logo looks incredible small on the jerseys. Why not just use the webbed-footed "D" like what's on the wordmark for the logo?? I know, it's too simple, but yikes.
That's it for game one, only 1,200+ to go.