Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Welcome to Opening Night of the 2013-2014 NHL Season

It's finally here! October is finally here! Drop the puck already!

I don't know how the rest of you feel, but that pretty much sums up my anxiousness, waiting for this NHL season to start.  I think we're in for a doozy this year, especially with all the changes in place... realignment, salary cap shrinking and so on and so forth.

We've got a pool record, 24 teams competing this year for the whole she-bang!  I'm still working on prizing, but I hope to have that sorted out before too long.

There are three games tonight and in honour of opening night, I thought I'd open up a quick preview of the three, in terms of the pool... my gift to you to celebrate the new season.

One of the best things about opening night is that there is generally some Hockey Night In Canada to be had and there is... a doubleheader, no less!  Opening up the double-bill is the old rivalry, Toronto at Montreal.  This should prove to be a hell of a game, as both teams are out to prove to each other that they've gotten better over the off-season and are ready to exercise their dominance over one another.

In the pool this year, there were 13 Canadiens taken and 15 Leafs taken... lots of expectation from the pool this year.  Further to the point, two Leafs were demoted on Monday, so that brings us to 13 & 13 active for tonight's game and it sounds like James Reimer will get the start for Toronto, which means Jonathan Bernier will be on the bench to start.  That still leaves us with 25 pool players on the ice for this game, so we shouldn't really complain.

Allan leads the way with four players in this game, two Habs and two Leafs, while Brenda has three active players, as does Ryan V. and Stacey M..  If this is a high scoring game, then there are going to be lot of happy teams in the pool to start the year.  15 out of 24 teams have at least one player playing in this game to start the year.

The Stanley Cup champions get to start the season with a banner raising on opening night and on that night, they'll welcome Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, which has the potential for some real fireworks to start the year, wouldn't you say?

This game has its fair share of players in the pool this year, which should come as no surprise.  These are two teams with high octane offenses and some high expectations.  We have 13 Blackhawks on the one side and 12 Capitals taken on the other side.  Brandon Pirri and Dimitri Orlov were demoted, one from each side, in the days leading up to the season, which brings the totals down a little, but they're still in good shape.  On the Washington side, we also have both goalies being taken, so I would assume that it will be Michal Neuvirth sitting on the bench to start, while Braden Holtby starts the year as the number one.

Heading into this game, it is a tie between Wyllie and Scott, as they each have three players in this game.  Both have a pair of Blackhawks and a Capitals player in this one, so they'll be pro-Chicago for the end result, I'm sure.  16 out of 24 pool teams have active players in this game, while Chris M.'s only player is down in the minors or else it would have been 17 teams.  That's still a pretty good attendance ratio.

The late game of the Hockey Night In Canada doubleheader will see another all-Canadian match-up, as the Winnipeg Jets will play their first game in the Western Conference, taking on the Oilers in Edmonton.  They are not division rivals, like the old days, but they will see each other enough times this year to resemble some of the old Smythe Division rivalry most of us grew up with.

13 Oilers were taken this year, two of which are injured to start the year (Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), so 11 will be active and Devan Dubnyk is the projected starter tonight, leaving Jason LaBarbera on the bench tonight.  That leaves 10 Oilers on the ice tonight.

12 Jets were taken this year and one of them will start on the Injured Reserve (Grant Clitsome), leaving 11 active Winnipeg players to start the year.  Only Ondrej Pavelec was taken from their crease, so there should be no benched players, in theory.

I'm sure Stacey C. is hoping that these two teams shoot out the lights at Rexall Place, because he has five active players playing, not to mention the two injured players that will be in the press box.  Stacey has three Oilers and two Jets going and they are all of reasonable talent, so a 2-1 shootout win for the Jets wouldn't be in his best interest.  Brenda isn't too far behind, as she has four players in this game, three Oilers and Pavelec.  All told, there are 12 teams with interest in this game.

ImplicationsOn the plus side, everyone has at least one player going on opening night, with four teams only having one player going. They may not be having the best night, but that's okay, there are many more nights to come.

Brenda leads the pool with active players with eight going tonight, while Allan and Stacey C. each have six active players going and John S. has five.  There are a few fours, a few more threes and plenty of pairs, so we should be in for a heck of a start.

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