Sunday, October 05, 2008

What Have We Learned: European Openers Edition

The weekend that was the NHL Premiere started up in Prague and ended with Stockholm and had one series that had the same result each time and the other splitting it up the middle. Did this show that the NHL can thrive in Europe?? The fans were pretty dormant and got up for the right times, but I think the jury is still out on all of it.

New York Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague, Czech Republic-The Lightning gave up 80 shots in the first two game, but only allowed four goals. The problem with that is that the offensive power the Bolts were hoping for didn't click in the first two games. Unless goal support happens or some sort of defense formed, Mike Smith and Olaf Kolzig will be two tired goaltenders by the All-Star Break. No truth to the rumor that they'll co-own a Goodyear store by that time since they'll be experts at rubber treads that that point.

-It looks like Markus Naslund could be regaining his old form. With a goal and an assist in the series, he seems to be clicking well with Scott Gomez.

-The Rangers stingy defense is back again, only allowing 40 shots and two goals in the series and the rumors about Henrik Lundqvist possible knee problems could be just those-- rumors. He looked pretty solid this weekend, which is a great sign for the Rangers fateful.

-Steven Stamkos looked like he has all the tools the people were going crazy about this summer. He has the speed, the shot, but just needs to hone the accuracy and get a break here and there and he'll be good to go.

-It looks like Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle will be the top dogs on the Bolts defense. The problem with that is if they get burned too much, the odds are they'll get wrecked before they can reach their full potential.

Ottawa Senators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins in Stockholm, Sweden
-The whole Darth Gerber look doesn't go over well with white pads. And speaking of helmets, I think Alex Auld's mask looks overall better than the Gerber dark-side stuff. However, there could be a fight between Auld and Gerber, especially if Auld can keep up a solid play and Gerber lets up softies every now and again.

-If you wanted special teams play, these were the games for you. Six of the 11 goals scored came on the special teams: four on the power play and two shorthanded goals on Saturday's match-up. Both these teams have high octane power plays, but Ottawa connected on three of the power play goals scored.

-Kris Letang looked really solid out there as he seems to be the new wave of defensemen in the Penguins system. He'll need to prove himself beyond this weekend, but looks like he could improve solidly throughout the season.

-With this weekend done, Sidney Crosby is on pace for 82 points, which will be a huge disappointment to poolies if he actually only can get a point-per-game.

-If Shean Donovan is going to be part of the Senators secondary scoring-- it could be a long year. The top three for the Sens were the ones who got the job done, of course. However, it's the same thing for the Sens every year-- the need for someone else to help pot goals at a consecutive rate in order for the team to succeed.

As a whole, it seemed to be another somewhat success for the NHL. We'll see how they plan to build on it for next year and where some locations could be at. Those suggestions from me will come in time, I'm sure.

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