Mikhail grabovski

What an action-packed opening night in the NHL. Man, was it ever great to have puck back.

A lot of people were commenting about the sheer volume of offense last night – 26 total goals were scored over a mere three games, which is both 80′s-esque, and what the league wants to see. I haven’t looked into the depths of this yet (oh, but I will be), but I always found it easier to score early in the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if goals-per-game declined over the course of your average season, as teams tighten up their defensive systems, teammates get more comfortable reading off each other, and roles become more defined.

If there’s not more raw offense early, there definitely seems for there to be more chances amidst a bunch of loose defensive play.

Anyway, it was fun. Here are your top stories.

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Scores:

Toronto 4
Montreal 3

Washington 4
Chicago 6

Winnipeg 5
Edmonton 4

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Notable numbers

* Mikhail Grabovski scored the first opening night hat-trick in Washington Capitals history, and he added an assist for a not-too-shabby four point night. Leafs fans, especially the statistically inclined ones, were adamant that he was misused as a defensive forward when in blue-and-white, and were flabbergasted when the team bought out his contract. He’s getting a chance to prove them right in Washington, and between his stellar pre-season and last night, it seems he could be making the Leafs management look pretty foolish, pretty soon. Especially as John Michael-Liles continues to earn nearly $4 mill to not dress for the club.

* Lars Eller had a great night, which was good to see after the way his season ended last year on a tough Eric Gryba hit. He scored twice and assisted on Brendan Gallagher’s goal for three points.

* Jacob Trouba‘s NHL debut was a smashing success for the Jets. The rookie defenseman assisted on a Michal Frolik goal (Frolik had two), and scored on a heavy slapshot to start his season with a two point showing.

* Last season’s Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin got the ball rolling early, scoring once and adding an apple for two points. I predicted him to have an off season (during the “nonsensical prediction” part of yesterday’s podcast), but I think Oates uses him well and he plays with enough talent that I could be way off on that.

* Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists in Chicago’s win.

* Dustin Byfuglien had three apples.

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George Parros had a scary moment

The Leafs/Habs game was about as 80s as it gets between the goals and the fights. Colton Orr and George Parros fought twice, as one would expect, but the second one didn’t go quite as planned.

George Parros threw a bomb, but as he was throwing it, Orr had semi-fallen to the ice. Between Parros’ momentum and Orr’s location, a little jersey tug from the latter was all that was needed to propel Parros’ face to the ice. There’s a 10-second clip below if you can stomach watching it – if you’d like to see the full video with context and follow up, there’s a longer video here.

Parros tried to get up and couldn’t. The good news is that he’s alert, and has been tweeting thank yous to people wishing him well on Twitter. He’s been diagnosed with a concussion.

You can read more takes on Parros from prominent columnists in theScore’s “Reading List.”

Oddly, he was on the other side of this in a fight with Orr a couple years ago, with the latter badly injured by his face hitting the ice.

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Weird heros in Toronto

Tyler Bozak stole the puck from Andrei Markov and scored on a breakaway to put the Leafs up 3-2, and Mason Raymond scored on a 2-on-1 after his attempted pass kicked right back to him, and Carey Price had already slid across on the attempted pass. Raymond tucked it in the open cage for his first (real) goal as a Leaf.

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Goaltending meltdowns

Only one goaltender had a save percentage that started with a “9″ last night (James Reimer, .919), as the three Canadian Olympic hopefuls were….less than steller.

Holtby: .853
Price: .895
Crawford: .875

Shallower nets, smaller pads making a difference, or small sample size? Or just opening night rust? LET’S DRAW INSTANT CONCLUSIONS CAUSE ANALYZING HOCKEY IS FUN.

I say the smaller pads are having a HUGE effect and someone is going to win the Vezina with a .750 save percentage. That’s my call. For sure.

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The Jets winner was niftykins

Eric Tangradi absolutely knew where Michal Frolik was headed (at least ballpark), and threw him this behind the back dish for the Jets game winner:

I’ll give that an And-1 Mixtape Tour towel spin.

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Sick solo effort

Ales Hemsky is an underrated offensive talent, and is going to get the chance to prove it under Dallas Eakins. My favourite part of his snipe last night is the second stickhandle he makes anticipating a Blake Wheeler desperation stick-swipe from the ice. The shot was pure, but 90% of guys get that puck poked before they get the chance to take the shot.

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One for the tenders

If it weren’t for Carey Price the Leafs could have had a few more last night. Here’s a great stop on Dave Bolland from his stomach:

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Other news

* Martin St. Louis was named captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I saw people saying they were surprised that Stamkos didn’t get the nod, but again: it’s not about giving the letter to the best player, or the face of the franchise. If the Lightning believe St. Louis has a few more years in him (I bet at least three), then it makes perfect sense to give it to the veteran guy, who just happens to be a rational, smart man who carries himself like a pro. Great call by the Bolts.

* Montage fan? Here’s how NBC opened the NHL season.

* And finally, this was the best “two minute minor penalty” of the night. The most unbelievable part of this is that after, Smid turns his palms to the sky to say “Wait, what did I do wrong?”

Please note that it’s on Mark Scheifele, whose forte is not standing on his skates. I mean, he got murdered here, but in general, you never know when a shove is going to receive pushback (it almost always does), but for some reason Scheifele seems to lack the capacity to give pushback. Not blaming him – again, he got murdered here – but it’s something to keep an eye out for in the future.

Comments (19)

  1. “* Mikhail Grabovski scored the first opening night hat-trick in Washington Capitals history, and he added an assist for a not-too-shabby four point night. Leafs fans, especially the statistically inclined ones, were adamant that he was misused as a defensive forward when in blue-and-white, and were flabbergasted when the team bought out his contract. He’s getting a chance to prove them right in Washington, and between his stellar pre-season and last night, it seems he could be making the Leafs management look pretty foolish, pretty soon. Especially as John Michael-Liles continues to earn nearly $4 mill to not dress for the club.” /CRY

    -Signed statistically inclined leaf fan

  2. I think that it’s not that Bozak is terrible, but that he inexplicably became a made man, while the better player (Grabo) toiled and was bought out. It was just like Minor hockey politics.

    Not a big Leaf fan, but I’ve always like Grabovsk; I think his creativity makes him fun to watch. The only thing in common he has with OV is that they’re both Russian, I think they’ll complement each other nicely, but the Caps will still miss the dance this year.

    • Grabo is awesome. I was hoping that the Devils would pick him up, but they went and got everyone else on the market. He was horribly misused in Toronto and should have a great year (maybe a career year), if the pre-season and first game are any indicator.

  3. I want to say sorry in advance if I’ve missed this but is “On The Regroup” a recurring segment which will be posted after every night when a game has been playing?

    If that’s the case then I just want to say THANK YOU! Lovely work Justin. Thanks for helping me keeping tabs on the NHL when I don’t have time to read every article out there.

  4. The goaltending was terrible last night (other than Reimer, who, despite terrible D looked great). I didn’t see a ton of 5 hole goals though, it just seemed like the goalies weren’t getting square with the shooters. Maybe just a bit of rust…but then again, it’s not like guys like Pavlec are the class of the league anyway (even though he gets all of the money from Winnepeg).

    • You left out:

      Pavlec: .895
      Dubnyk: .821

      Bad D in pretty much all the games too…didn’t help the goalies out much.

  5. The additional crosscheck by Smid just kills me. “Since I’m getting a penalty anyway, might as well make it worth it”

    • Right!

      Because the hip-high crosscheck now becomes a head-high crosscheck once the dude you’ve knocked to the boards is down on the ground….

      It’s hit like that (and the Gagner incident) that make laugh everytime I hear people talk about respecting fellow players and policing themselves.

      Can the NHL take a cue from youth hockey and put STOP signs on the back the jerseys?

  6. Dirty play by Orr dragging down Parros till his face hit the ice. U are a real man Orr? $1M for this goon, reminds me of paying Domi that, didnt do much else.

  7. I laughed my ass off at Smid during that hit mostly because it was so jarring to see something so brutal treated so casually.

    Also it was like in slapstick sketch comedy when a character is thrown from a building and the director makes it explicit that the stunt is done with a crash test dummy. Hopefully Scheifele’s bones are actually made out of rubber or else he’s gonna have a tough career

  8. PS Zack Kassian should be permanently banned from the NHL. Where the f%*$ has all the integrity of the game of hockey gone?

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