Was opening night a degree of nerves for the Tampa Bay Lightning? Going in and then finding themselves in a 2-0 hole wasn't the most encouraging opening-night situations. Then again, being able to come back and win 6-4 was both encouraging and concerning. That, or repetitive of something that happened 24 years ago; a high scoring, first game for the Bolts. The difference being 1992 was the franchise's very first game. Thursday's win over the Red Wings wasn't that and wouldn't be mistaken for it.
Tampa Bay's first game of the season was starkly a different outcome than what the New Jersey Devils had in their 1st game of the season down in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers; they lost in overtime. It's also an odd coincidence that the Devils last preseason game was against the Panthers and the outcome was a loss for them then as well. That was practice, though.
As for tonight's game for the Lightning, Andrei Vasilevskiy will get his first start of the season for the Bolts. It was life in the crease that raised some concerns among fans for Thursday's opener against the wings; Ben Bishop looked shaky. It's not that Big Ben is injured - not that we know of - but some saw his effort as starting goalie and thought he was fearful of being hurt. There's no certainty that Thursday contributed to head coach Jon Cooper deciding to go with Vasy instead of Bishop, but the choice does should remind everyone that this season is one of transition in the crease. 2016-17 is Ben Bishop's last under contract and Vasilevskiy, the 2012 1st round draft pick, should be seeing many more starts.
One thing to keep an eye out for with the Devils is their cog in transition: Taylor Hall is playing his first season with New Jersey. Hall was traded by the Oilers this past summer (where he had previously scored 132 goals in 382 career games). It was part of a retooling for the Oilers, but it didn't sit well for Hall.
"I was a little bit shocked," said Hall, who wasn't alone in that reaction when news broke that he'd been traded straight up for New Jersey defenceman Adam Larsson, who had 18 points last year.
"You hear rumblings, but when it happens you're a little bit shocked. But I'm excited for the challenge and excited to join a team that wants me there."
There's more from Hall out there regarding the deal, reacting to it a few times this past summer.... Suffice it to say, Taylor is still in a state of transition and the hockey world will be watching for his first points with New Jersey. Going into tonight's game against the Bolts, the most telling stat for the former 1st round draft pick is that he's a minus-1 after the Devils opening night, overtime loss.