October 16, 2023, 6:08 pm
There will be plenty to get to and mull over in terms of fantasy players as the season matures. Right now, I want to take a look at the first games for each team and offer some quick bullets for each.
Predators @ Lightning:
– Tampa looked sloppy, Hedman was super rusty, got hemmed in a ton in the third period. They got the win, but the lack of depth might show up more often against more formidable foes. Facts are facts, however, and getting goals from Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel makes everyone happy in the Tampa Bay brass.
– Nashville has to be happy with their youngsters, took them a while to get going, Roman Josi took some bad penalties. You give Tampa 5 PP opportunities and it’ll probably end poorly. Guys to keep an eye on are Jusso Parssinen and Thomas Novak. Could just be a product of Tampa coming out slower out of the gates, but these guys are good at finding open ice.
Blackhawks @ Penguins:
– Penguins giving up 35 shots to the Blackhawks was certainly something. Pretty pathetic showing. Lack of finishing and the 3rd-period curse continues (2nd worst in leads conceded in 3rd). They made the Blackhawks look fast…Not sounding the alarm, but I’m also not feeling worse for leaving them out of the playoffs. Old and slow.
– Hawks got contributions from all levels – nice to see Donato, Foligno, Guttman and Dickinson all get on the board. Defense was rough early but progressed – hounding the puck carriers and not allowing too many high-danger chances. Mrazek played admirably.
Kraken @ VGK:
– Kraken started out well, fantastic 5v5 but some defensive transitions were ugly. PP was spotty with Vegas clogging up entries. Couldn’t score on the major either.
– Vegas simply weathered a storm and took advantage of some lapses…and a very preseason play by Tanev. I thought it’d be a comedown moment for the defending champs but they got going just how they left off, getting contributions from all over the lineup and a goalie playing lights out in Adin Hill.
Blackhawks @ Bruins:
– The Bruins obviously look very different without the veteran centerman presence of Bergeron and Krejci. They played solid defense, however, and snuffed out Chicago’s brief winning streak. Not too much to note about individuals aside from those who are undoubtedly already rostered.
– Chicago showed a little fog on their own end and creating offensively as they were on the second night of a back-to-back. Bedard got his first goal but not much else to analyze here.
Canadiens @ Maple Leafs:
– If you are a Montreal fan, you have to love the first 50 minutes of this game. LOVE. Newhook and Kirby Dach showed immediate chemistry. Sean Monahan looked like the playmaker he used to be, albeit his assist got disallowed. Giving Toronto four power plays is not wise.
– If you’re a Leafs fan, you should only be slightly pleased. You got the win, but didn’t look much different than last year’s team – offensively carried by the core and constant defensive gaffs or lapses. This season is destined to be another repeat because of the latter. Time to panic? No. Just know we’ve seen this movie before.
Senators @ Hurricanes:
– Canes look a bit off defensively, but holy hell do they like to fire the puck (42 SA). Orlov/DeAngelo will need to button up if this team truly wants to be unstoppable. Seth Jarvis seems to be adding a physical element.
– Ottowa’s back end was a liability and the lack of depth showed up. They need Norris back soon and Pinto would surely add stability down the middle. They did get some depth scoring, but it’ll remain to be seen if it can hold up.
Avalanche @ Kings:
– The Avs looked predictably fast and deep but finished off opportunities. They did get fortunate LA was not effective on the man advantage (five PPs). The new guys contributed 4 points, albeit an empty net opportunity, but still nice to see those pay immediate dividends in the early going.
– The aforementioned ineffective powerplay sunk them, but I’m not too worried. Talbot made 32 saves, but clearly not enough. Nothing to overreact to at this point, but I think getting Kaliyev back will certainly help.
Oilers @ Canucks:
– Edmonton got ROUTED 8-1. Bad goaltending, bad rotations on both ends, 1-4 on the PP and absolutely nothing from outside the top line. They were without Ekholm but I’m not sure he makes up for all those ills.
– Vancouver looks exponentially better in all phases and put on a clinic on special teams, defending a lethal PP unit 3/4 times and finishing off three of their own PPs. Brock Boeser potted FOUR goals on eight shots (not a big deal)! One guy that stood out was Dakota Joshua – a goal on a couple shots, but looks quicker and very effective in helping facilitate on the offensive, which he’s not known too much for. Thatcher Demko looked great in the net, as well. Great start for this squad.
Jets @ Flames:
– Having just signed Scheifele and Hellebuyck, it wasn’t the best showing. That being said, it was interesting to see Iafallo featured on the first PP unit and then cash in on 5v5. Special teams made the difference as the Flames scored on 1/3 chances while Winnipeg was blanked on four opportunities.
– Jacob Markstrom looked good and the Flames got contributions from all over the lineup. Solid start for this rejuvenated group.
Flyers @ Blue Jackets:
– Not the outcome many were expecting, as the Flyers got goals from their top lines and blocked a ton of shots that made Carter Hart’s job a lot easier en route to a win. Best thing I saw was Sean Couturier looking like the player of old – a goal and 4 point on the night. He could really derail their tankathon if he keeps it up.
– Very unfortunate that Columbus lost Zack Werenski again, but it doesn’t appear to be season-ending. Other than that bad news, it was also curious that Kent Johnson was a healthy scratch. With him back in the fold, it should lend more skilled depth and a more balanced attack.
Rangers @ Sabres:
– Not exactly what I expected from Buffalo – I figured they’d come out way faster and get more shots on net. They failed to convert on any PP opportunities and only amassed 25 shots on net. Credit to New York for not allowing the Sabres’ big guns to create much.
– Buffalo simply wasn’t sharp in their own end and left Devon Levi with little help on a couple of the goals. They need to have a quicker start to the season than most due how good their division and conference foes are.
Red Wings @ Devils:
– Detroit looked as deep as I expected. The Devils simply have a group that has been playing together longer, has more speed and better goaltending. That being said, Detroit already showcased they can be dangerous from almost anywhere in the lineup.
– New Jersey got good enough goaltending from Vanecek and spectacular scoring from Jack Hughes. The only negative was not cashing in on the PP opportunities – 1-6 is not a trend they’ll want to follow. Solid start for Taffoli as he assisted on one of Hughes’ goals.
Blues @ Stars:
– Not the most thrilling game, but Dallas has shown they can win in any type of match. Neither PP was effective and the Blues eventually fell in the shootout. I’d say that’s a solid start for a team not too many thought would be too competitive going up against a Cup-contender.
Panthers @ Wild:
– This one didn’t feature a ton of scoring either, but at least the Panthers put a ton of rubber on net. Congrats to rookie Brock Faber on his first NHL goal, which also ended up being the game-winner. This is the ideal game for Minnesota – low scoring, low PK opportunities and excellent goaltending. The Wild are strong enough in their own end to win similar games.
VGK @ Sharks:
– Not much to say here – the Sharks aren’t very good, but also put up a decent fight against the defending champs. Big thing from Vegas is they continue to get depth scoring.
Coyotes @ Devils:
– I expected this to be at least a two-goal win in the Devils’ favor but the ‘Desert Dogs’ proved that they could be turning a corner as they potted a clutch third period goal with the man advantage. They received contributions from newcomers Dumba, Durzi and Cooley, as well. Jersey still gets a point, but it has to be a little disappointed in surrendering a point to a rebuild team
Penguins @ Capitals:
– The Penguins rebounded in a big way from their opening night loss to Chicago and shut out their rival Washington. Crosby and Malkin were in prime form as they turned in a truly “honest game” as their head coach challenged them with. Anthony Mantha was invisible as usual and continues to be an enigma in that lineup. We’ll see how it progresses.