Game (is definitely) on! The first weekend of the 2009-10 Regular Season has come and gone and we have found a few interesting things here at On Goal Analysis to blog about. In this case, it is about any key notes for the 10 teams I cover (ANA, ATL, BUF, EDM, MIN, NJD, OTT, STL, TBL and WSH) and any trends shown by STL and WSH who have played more than one game so far. And I will close out with emphasis on any games of note to watch this week.
10 Teams in 10 Minutes:
Anaheim. The Ducks opened with a loss. Does this make you nervous? Since The Lockout, they are 2-2-1 in opening games. More specifically, they have begun the first five games over the previous two seasons with one win last year and one win and a SOL the year prior. Three W’s and two SOL’s in 2006/7 equals 4-1 in the first five, so keep the faith, Ducks fans.
Atlanta. OK. You got us. We were completely fooled by your 2-3-1 preseason play. Out came the Thrashers with Captain Kovalchuk in the lead. An impressive win, with only two road games at the end of the week to play. Let’s hope the longer time between games does not throw off ATL’s battle rhythm.
Buffalo. The Sabres’ experiment of playing without off-season additions of note has begun. Tim Connolly’s PPG during the second minute of the 1st Period seemed to send a message before MTL netminder Price shut them down. They need to continue to throw 30+ SOG per game at their opponent, however, and things might just go their way.
Edmonton. The Battle For Alberta I is complete with no joy at the final buzzer. The forwards came to play, however, responding in less than five minutes of playing time to CGY’s 1st and 3rd game, and led off scoring in the 3rd. Character is definitely there – the W’s just need to come with the hard work.
Minnesota. The Wild’s first and only goal of the night came on the PP from the top line’s forwards. Playing a defensive juggernaut, MIN still managed 33 SOG, an improvement of 5.5 over last season’s per-game average. You will be seeing much more of Brunette-Koivu-Havlat on the scoresheet throughout the season.
New Jersey. Martin Brodeur’s 1000th game was spoiled by five GA and a loss to red hot PHI. Look for Brodeur to come out much harder in net tonight, especially since it is against New York. If the past is an indicator, however, it may be a difficult row to hoe as NJ is 1(OTW)-3 in Game 2s since the Lockout.
Ottawa. Ottawa failed to get a point for the first time in a season opener since the Lockout. They are 4-1 in Game 2’s as well, but this season’s Game 2 is at Canadian rival TOR. The last goal of Game 1 was a character goal, scored when the game was well decided and by the youngsters. So possibly we ARE seeing a change in the locker room’s character.
St. Louis. WOW! 2-0 to start the season, and both victories over Division rival DET to boot. Most Monday talk shows agree the weekend showed them that STL simply looked like the stronger team. At least against DET, the Blues like the middle period most. Even more specifically, four of nine of their goals were scored in minutes 12 – 14 of the 2nd Period. Since all were even strength, it is not an indicator of DET lapses of discipline equaling penalties and PP opportunities. Instead, it is potentially a point in the game where the Blues have extra zip in their skates. I will continue to monitor the team for this kind of trend.
Tampa Bay. Defeated by ATL, the Lightning were down 4-0 mid-way through the 2nd Period and fought their way back to a 4-3 deficit before succumbing to a PPG and a Kovalchuk goal not even a minute-and-a-half later. The score sheet indicated all of the Lightning’s big names (St. Louis, Hedman, Ohlund, Stamkos, Lecavalier and Tanguay), so there is no need to panic after only one game.
Washington. The Caps have two complete with two W’s to their credit. Going into tonight’s games, they also have the top three scoring players in the Eastern Conference in the form of Ovechkin, Laich and Semin. It’s only been two games, but they are showing themselves to be a 1st-Half team. By that I mean seven of 10 Goals scored have all been before the conclusion of the 10th minute in the 2nd Period. Curiously, in that same period of the time the GWG for Washington had also already been scored. While TOR made the game interesting in the last half, BOS never really was in it for the season opener. This is another trend I am going to monitor.
This Week, In Closing
And in closing, I would like to underscore a few games of interest this week I mentioned in a blgo sent to The Scores Report for publication:
Tuesday, 6 October and Saturday, 10 October where TBL plays two intra-divisional games against CAR.
There are two tilts of note on Thursday, 8 October. CGY @ EDM is big because of the pure emotion The Battle of Alberta (II) brings. Also, NYR @ WSH is their first meeting since the Rangers’ Game 7 Eastern Conference semi-finals ouster and Donald Brashear plays his first game against his old teammates.
And on Saturday, 10 October you should watch ANA @ PHI for two reasons. First is that they will be somewhat fatigued playing in their third game in five nights on the road. The main reason people will watch this game is because it will be Chris Pronger taking on his old team for the first time.
So game on, folks! Get to the store for the chips and beverages and settle into the chair IF you are not going to the arena. I’ll be back next week with analysis more in depth in nature because we will have had several more games to contemplate.
Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com