Early Season Impressions

I’ve been absent for the past two or three weeks but return now with comments about the start of the NHL season.OK, so a guy wakes up from a five year coma and checks the stats page. He sees that Minnesota has a team again and that they are the only undefeated team remaining?

Then he sees that Calgary, Montreal, Boston, Edmonton and the New York Islanders have the top five GAA in the league?

New Jersey is in last place, and Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington do not currently have playoff spots?

That’s enough to knock a guy back into the coma!

The Vancouver Canucks unveiled their third jersey recently. Personally, I like it a lot more than their regular road shirts.

It sounds as though Edmonton’s new 3rd jersey will debut on October 26th. Radio ads and billboards around town have been declaring the “new ice age” will arrive on that date from “the mind that created SPAWN”. As some of you will know, Todd McFarlane is the creator of the comic book anti-superhero named Spawn and is also part owner of the Oilers.

The Colorado Avalanche will follow suit and show off their new duds on Halloween night when they St. Louis.

Donald Audette isn’t making any friends in Dallas. He has been a healthy scratch already once this year for not doing his part defensively for the team.

Anaheim’s German Titov had a brutal season last year, due in large part to a couple personal tragedies. This year hasn’t started any better. The Ducks are paying him $4.6 Million over three years and their only halfway through that deal now. All they need now is to add Alex Selivanov and Andrei Kovalenko…

Calgary’s fast start is all because of Roman Turek. The Flames have only been scored on 9 times in 7 games which is fortunate because they still can’t score. Now with Marc Savard on the shelf for 4-6 weeks, Jarome Iginla is left to shoulder the load alone with a team full of pluggers.

A nice story out of New York state: The Rangers and Sabres played against each other on the 7th of October sporting jerseys that both read “New York” diagonally across their chests. The uniforms will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Twin Towers Fund.

The LA Kings have had very little to be happy about so far, but the play of their second line has been a bright spot. Smolinski, Murray and Heinz (3 former Bruins) have taken up the slack for the first line. Palffy and Stumpel are clearly missing Luc Robitaille. By the way, Robitaille’s #20 has been moth-balled by the Kings so that it will not be worn again before they can retire it when Luc is done playing.

Shawn Bates is tearing it up this early season. Who?!? If you were wondering where he came from… he’s another guy the Bruins let get away.

To all the people who said the Oilers were done after Doug Weight was dealt, I have this to say. Edmonton: 2nd place, St. Louis: 13th, Edmonton: 24 GF, St. Louis: 17GF, Edmonton: 2 losses in 8 games, St. Louis: 1 win in 5. Sure it’s early, but it’s a TEAM sport and one player will not break the Oilers.

In fact, only one team can say that they have 9 players with at least 4 points on their roster… Edmonton. Every player that has played a game for the Oilers so far this season, has got at least 1 point, only 5 guys have yet to get a goal. (and you know Marchant, Niinimaa, Laraque, Staios and Brewer will be scoring their fair share).

New Jersey is averaging 4 goals against per game so far. That’s got to be a kick in the cup to Martin Brodeur’s Olympic hopes. But then again, Cujo isn’t off to a very good start either. In fact, of the 4 goalies on Canada’s camp roster, it’s Eddie Belfour who has looked the best so far this year.

If Bryan Berard continues to play at an NHL level, does he deserve a spot on Team USA? Speaking of Team USA, I guess nobody told Mike Richter that Mike Dunham was supposed to be the starter. Richter has looked stellar so far and has served notice that he still wants to be “the man” come February.

What was the worst thing that happened in the game between the Canucks and the Avalanche? Was it Bertuzzi leaving the bench to “save and protect” massive Ed Jovanovski from equally massive Scott Parker? Or was it the idiotic antics of Donald Brashear and both team’s coaches? Brashear scores a dandy goal on a break away then proceeds to rub it in the face of the Avalanche by gliding by their bench on one knee pumping his fist. (Seems to me that the last time he pulled a stunt like that, some guy whacked him upside the head with a stick). Then after the Bertuzzi brawl, Canucks coach Marc Crawford mimics Frankenstein’s walk to show how he feels about Scott Parker. In response, Colorado’s Bob Hartley gestures towards Brashear’s unique beard (which is rather odd looking but…). The rules say Bertuzzi deserves ten games for his part in the fighting, and I’m not going to defend him. But as a hockey fan, and a fan of sport, I was more embarrassed by the lack of sportsmanship shown by the coaches and by Brashear than by anything else I saw in that game.