Earlier this week I wrote my preamble on the myth of Detroit being “Hockeytown USA” and interestingly enough, Drew Sharp took the opportunity to call out Red Wings fans for their lack of passion in this morning’s Detroit Free Press. Red Wings’ star defenseman, Nicklas Lidstrom wasn’t impressed at all, calling the lack of fans at Wednesday’s home opener, “more than a little disappointing.” There are lots of great hockey towns in the U.S., and Detroit is still one of them, but the title of Hockeytown USA just can’t go to a team that has trouble selling out home openers and playoff games. I bet fans in Colorado, New York and San Jose have just as good, if not a better claim to that title.
Update: Apparently Colorado couldn’t sell out its home opener either. WOW. Can Gary Bettman please stop calling the game as healthy as it has even been?
In any event, it was great to have regular season hockey back last night, and the action didn’t disappoint with three games going into overtime. Looks like we have a great season of hockey ahead of us.
On to the morning papers:
- It is not so much what’s on top of the jersey, but rather what’s under it says Ilya Kovalchuk in this morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- The Ducks were outshot a staggering 42-15 last night in their 3-2 shootout loss to the Red Wings. Jiri Hudler explains his thought process during his shootout winning goal on Iyla Bryzgalov on Wednesday night. While, Mike Babcock says that is exactly what Hudler has to do to contribute to the team.
- Damien Cox of the Toronto Star says the Leafs need more saves. Period. While they were defeated by the Sens 4-3, Mats Sundin doesn’t believe there was any aspect of the game that they were outmatched.
- Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe previews the 2007/08 season in this morning’s paper.
- Craig Julien believes P.J. Axelsson can be a calming force on his young linemates writes Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald.
- The Flames are beginning the season at the Saddledome for the first time in five years and hope the friendly confines gives them a jump start to the season. According to Steve Macfarlane of the Calgary Sun, Flames’ players shouldn’t become too comfortable with their linemates. Here are the Flames’ lines heading into the season opener versus Philadelphia.
- With the loss of both Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, Dan Vogl of the Buffalo News says that Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford have pressure on them to fill the void. Meanwhile, the Buffalo News provides readers with five reasons to be optimistic about the Sabres and five reasons to be pessimistic.
- The Canes got a great performance from Cam Ward and had more than enough chances but were defeated by the Habs 3-2 in overtime last night. Cory Stillman was a late scratch for last night’s contest because he injured his torso in a car accident Tuesday afternoon.
- Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch has a terrific piece on the road Scott Howson took to become an NHL general manager. On the ice, it appears Mike Peca will be held out of game action through this weekend because of an ailing back.
- Denis Savard is not worried about throwing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews into the fire writes Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Stastny–Brunette–Hlinka line demonstrated terrific chemistry in leading the Avs to a 4-3 victory over the Stars Wednesday night. Coach Joel Quenville was happy with Peter Budaj’s play when it counted writes Terry Frei of the Denver Post.
- According to Stephan Robidas, the Stars have to have hunger the entire game.
- With all the young faces in the Oilers’ lineup, nerves will be abound tonight versus the Sharks. Everyone and their brother is predicting the Oilers will miss the playoffs this season but the players themselves remain confident that the team can surprise some people writes Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun.
- The Panthers have come to the realization that talk is cheap writes Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
- As Lonnie White of the L.A. Times explains, after the team’s trip overseas, Saturday’s home opener feels like the real start to the season.
- Michael Russo has a great piece about Wild youngster Mikko Koivu in this morning’s Star Tribune.
- Meanwhile, Mikko’s brother Saku was terrific in leading the Habs to their 3-2 victory over the Canes last night. Perhaps the Habs would have an easier time of it if they stayed out of the box writes Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette.
- As Rich Chere writes in the Newark Star-Ledger, Patrik Elias is handling the loss of his captaincy like a man. With Brent Sutter leading the ship, the days of the trap in New Jersey are in the rear-view mirror.
- Alexander Radulov will start the season on the Predators’ number three scoring line. (Writer’s note: It is only a matter of time before he is moved up to one of the top two lines. The article points to the fact that he didn’t have great chemistry with either of the top two line combinations but once the Preds realize Jed Ortmeyer can’t score, the logical switch will be made.)
- Larry Brooks previews the Rangers in detail in this morning’s NY Post. Rangers’ leader Jaromir Jagr realizes that games aren’t played on paper.
- Dany Heatley loves Ottawa and with a new $45 million contract in hand, the back-to-back 50 goal scorer had 2 goals and 1 assist in his team’s 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. (Writer’s note: For $45 million, I think I’d love Ottawa too.)
- Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun speculates that the Heatley signing will be followed by a Jason Spezza signing which will be followed by Wade Redden’s departure.
- Due to the fact that Bryan Berard was running the powerplay in practice yesterday, Greg Logan of Newsday believes he will be signed sooner rather than later.
- Mike Knuble hopes last year’s struggles are motivation for the Flyers to not play that way again.
- Mikael Tellqvist has earned the start in between the pipes for the Coyotes’ season opener against the Blues tonight. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, Zbynek Michalek broke his left hand at practice on Wednesday and will be out of the lineup 4-6 weeks.
- Sidney Crosby’s Penguin counterparts are holding off on making statistical predictions for the reigning MVP. (Writer’s note: I won’t hold off. He’ll get 140+ this season)
- Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Dispatch wonders whether the Blues are playoff bound. Here are the Blues’ lines heading into the season.
- Patrick Marleau and coach Ron Wilson appear to be doing their best to improve their rocky relationship writes David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News.
- Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune gives his full preview of the Bolts heading into 2007/08.
- With a higher skill level on the roster than last season, Capitals’ coach Glen Hanlon believes his team won’t take as many penalties in 2007/08.
- Barry Macdonald of the Vancouver Sun believes the Canucks have a boatload of potential heading into the season.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.