One down, 81 Tampa Bay Lightning games to go....
Some thoughts about last night's season opener....
- Good for Steve Downie that he wouldn't let himself be baited into taking a penalty. Two years ago, he would've gone there. It's great that he plays with an edge, but let's hope he continues to stay on the edge and doesn't go over it too often.
- Speaking of Downie, how long will it be before he's not given a penalty purely based on his reputation? That sort of looked to be the case last night when he ended up with an unsportsmanlike. However, he may have deserved it simply because of him talking to the official afterwards. Still, will he ever get the benefit of the doubt? Probably not, and that's too bad.
- What was up with that phantom goaltender interference call against Dominic Moore? Did the official see something I didn't? Or did he think he saw something I didn't? Guess the officiating sort of picked up where it left off from last season.
- I thought that Vincent Lecavalier had a good game. It was nice to see him get his first goal of the season in Game 1, but I don't have any expectations that he'll score every game just because he scored in the first one. Still, it looks promising that he's gotten back to form after a couple of off-seasons for him.
- Vinny, by the way, was outstanding in the faceoff circle. He ended up winning 60% of his faceoffs for the entire game, but the first period he won 86%. Dominic Moore won 62% of his faceoffs, and Adam Hall won all four of the faceoffs he took during the game.
- Steven Stamkos scored two goals in his first game of the season. There's been some question as to whether he can duplicate the goal totals from last season, particularly when everyone knows where he's going to shoot from. Well, it looks possible, but it is still early. Time will tell with that.
- The unheralded player of the night was unquestionably Nate Thompson. The guy was everywhere, doing everything he was supposed to and more. He had four shots on goal, two hits, and was 50% in the faceoff circle. He may not be the impact player that people expect someone like Stamkos to be, but he's definitely a key cog in the works.
- Mike Smith looked solid in net. He wasn't shaky like he was at times last season, nor was he the flamboyant stickhandling goaltender from the season before. He was quietly competent, did his job well, and that was definitely a good thing.
- Guy Boucher's system is definitely fast-paced and fluid. But my question is, will the players be able to play like that for all 82 games this season? It seems like a style that's going to be wearing people down awfully fast if they're not careful about pacing themselves.
- The top power play unit is as scary as advertised. But the second power play unit is probably just as scary - only in a different way. Teams will probably take a breather after the first unit leaves the ice, and that's when that second unit will take advantage of the opposing team's lapse. We saw that last night with the first goal of the game:
- If the first game is anything to go by, and it may not be, the second period may again be the Lightning's worst period of play.
- Was it just me, or was Mike Lundin the best defenseman on the ice? Pavel Kubina and Victor Hedman were both quietly competent, but they really just stuck to keeping things simple and doing their jobs - not that there's anything wrong with that. Lundin, on the other hand, made a big play or two. He's someone to keep an eye on this season, I think.