Thursday, October 06, 2011

It's Opening Night

When we last left our gladiators of the ice, the Canucks had been vanquished by the Bruins and the city of Vancouver trashed by the hooligans.

Some of the post season memories more enjoyable than others, so with a few months to catch some rays, do some fishing, try to out run the law on the lakes and such, the NHL is back for the 2011-12 season.

With a more watchful eye on the physical play, with particular attention to shots to the head the NHL season embarked on the long march to Stanley, three openings on Thursday night launching this year's efforts.

The Bruins who took one more opportunity to Lord it over the rest of the NHL, with a lengthy and some suggest a tad overindulgent pre game celebration, one which featured each and every Bruin allowed to grab Lord Stanley's Mug and go for a waltz around the rink.

The lengthy celebration did not go un-noticed by the visiting Flyers, who decided that since it was a new year, a new season with a clean slate, that the Bruins should after celebrating their success of last year,  should taste a bit of defeat to start the new one.

Flyers win season opener, beating Bruins 2-1
Uplifting moment in hub

In Toronto, the planning has probably already started for this years Stanley Cup parade, the Leafs winning their opening night match with their ancient rivals Les Canadiens. Toronto where hope springs eternal and 1967 has more significance than just the 100th celebration of Confederation, is aching for a winning season, so far so good TO, your one game in and on track, enjoy the ride while it lasts.

The CBC of course featured two of the night's three opening acts, the Leafs and Habs, one part music festival what with Three Days Grace and Bachman Turner taking to a stage at the Forks in Winnipeg to provide the nights soundtrack, while Don Cherry weighed in with his usual diatribes as part of his first Coach's Corner of the year, the twin themes of the debate on fighting and the new prosecution of head shots high among his talking points on the night.

Resourceful win good sign for Leafs
Reimer leads Leafs past Habs

The final of the night's openers came from Vancouver, where the Canucks made mention of their success last year, the individual awards, the various championship banners (sans one that probably outweighs all) the strong, strong year of their 40th anniversary, tempered of course with the Stanley Cup loss and weighed down a tad by the night of violence in the city that followed.

To their credit the Canucks addressed those hours following the Stanley Cup loss, honouring the city's city Police and RCMP reinforcements, the Vancouver Fire Service, Ambulance service, health care providers and volunteers who streamed into the streets the next day to commence the clean up.

They launched a new celebration of service in Vancouver with their "Heart of a Canuck" program, which will select one resident of the province per month who best exemplifies local service.

With all the loose ends of the last season tied up it was on to the hockey, which featured a sluggish first period for the home side, but then turned around and showcased some of the fire wagon skills that made the Canucks one of last years most exciting teams. A win was there's for the taking if not for a missed open net, or a sliding puck slipping past the gaping entrance to the Pens net.

In the end, the final game of opening night took the longest to play, with an overtime and then a shootout which went the way of the visitors.

Probably not the result the home side fans wanted to see, but few could have left the game unhappy, the home side seems back on track from last years excitement level, the reserves filled in more than adequately for the regulars currently injured.

After a summer of disappointment over the Stanley Cup loss and at times despair over events that had tarnished their city's reputation, hockey was back on the ice in Vancouver, it's a long haul until the spring, but with night number one out of the way, Canuck fans can at least concentrate on the game once again.

Canucks rally but lose 4-3 in shootout to Pens
Pens win in shootout

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