Wednesday night, we saw eight teams get their first crack at winning games in the survivor pool and our early survivors, already clear for another week are Wes, Mike, Marcie and Wilton.
Thursday night will have nine games on the docket, enough for 18 different goalies to get in the crease, but how many will have an effect on the mini-game?
We knew yesterday that Carey Price wouldn't be going tonight for the Habs, leaving the first non-pool goalie to get a start this season in Al Montoya. Benson has to be very pleased about that. At the other end of the ice, we will see Robin Lehner, who is looking to play past the 7-minute mark of the opening game, just to be a bit better than last season. Jeremy is banking on a big year for the Sabres and their number one goalie for a pool repeat.
Haven't we seen this one already? Jaroslav Halak against Henrik Lundqvist... yeah, that sounds familiar. The two World Cup keepers will go head-to-head again tonight in the first crosstown game in New York, much to the delight of Troy and Grant, respectively. Both are getting their first starts of the season, but Grant is already off to a flying start to the season otherwise, leading the pool with 9 points and a goalie win would make for a great start to the week.
We have some more World Cup representation in Columbus tonight, as Tuukka Rask will go for the Bruins tonight and Sergei Bobrovsky gets the nod for the Blue Jackets, a Finland versus Russia game. Troy gets a second chance at moving on this week tonight with Rask, while Mike can possibly play spoiler, already having his win for the week and rocking Bobrovsky tonight. Rask was taken before Bob at the draft, 26th compared to 60th. Could Bob be a big bargain this season?
It's the marquee match-up between the Red Wings and the Lightning on Thursday night, as it is expected that we'll see Petr Mrazek and Ben Bishop in their respective nets. Mrazek was a 2nd round pick for Stacey C., while Bishop was a 1st round pick for Dale C., if that was supposed to mean something, in terms of a favourite tonight. It might. Nevertheless, the Red Wings could be up for an upset tonight, as these playoff foes open the season together.
How about the battle of former Vancouver starters? Cory Schneider and the Devils will visit Roberto Luongo and the Panthers on Thursday night, opening their seasons, respectively. Schneider was the 20th overall pick for Stuart, while Luongo went in the 2nd round, 32nd overall, to Cam. This was a good match-up in the last couple of seasons and should be good again this season.
Mike already got his first win of the season, but now that the St. Louis Blues are down to one starting goaltender, Jake Allen is going to be the man and he will work back-to-back nights to start the year, taking on the Minnesota Wild on night number two. The 9th overall pick, Devan Dubnyk, will get the call for the Wild, representing John's team this season. John took Dubnyk, just ahead of Allen in the draft and that bit of reasoning will be put to an early test.
The early indication from the home side was a bit of a flip-flop, but in the end, it will be Connor Hellebuyck in the net for the Jets to start the season, but I think we're still in for a goalie battle for the regular job. Game one will go to Tony's 5th round pick to start and he'll get Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes, Brian's 5th round pick, 10 selections later on. Both pool teams get their first starts in this game, as former Southeast Division rivals open their year.
It's another top quality rivalry match-up to start the season, as the Washington Capitals will open in Pittsburgh against their rivals, the Penguins. There are no surprises here, as it will be the 1st overall selection, Braden Holtby, going up against the 19th overall pick, Marc-Andre Fleury. Our pool champ, Jeremy gets his first start of the season, as does Cam, a pool returnee after a season away. This could be the game to watch, even without Sidney Crosby.
In the last game of the night, the Ducks and Stars will go in Dallas, where there is another split situation still on the go. The Stars have opted to go with Antti Niemi on opening night, rather than Kari Lehtonen, but all it would take is a loss and it could go the other way quickly. Wilton will get a shot at his 2nd win of the season with Niemi going, which bodes well for him, as this is his 1st round pick, 23rd overall. At the other end, the Ducks will go with John Gibson, Dale B.'s 1st round pick, 21st overall. That's a pretty even match-up, given their draft rankings. How close could it possibly on the ice?