Saturday’s NHL Observations: Top contenders Blues, Blackhawks, Bruins dominant in season openers; Jagr, Kovalev turn back the clocks


Cup contenders St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks had impressive debuts today.
The Blues look scary good and just put on a clinic against the Detroit Red Wings, defeating the Red Wings, 6-0. This game wasn’t even that close and could have been 9 or 10-0.
With rookie Vladimir Tarasenko joining the team, and Chris Stewart in top shape, the pieces might be there for the Blues to be the team to beat this season.
Tarasenko an elite talent and difference marker scored twice in his NHL debut and Stewart also had a pair of goals. Tarasenko was a player the Penguins tried to trade up for in the 2010 draft and the 21 year old has a chance to be a special player in his rookie year. Stewart looks great after a bad 2011-2012 campaign and the Blues could do anything they wanted in this one, and got behind the Red Wings D at ease.
BRUINS FRUSTRATE RANGERS: The Bruins looked great, defeating the New York Rangers 3-1 at home. The Bruins had a number of players playing during the lockout and it might have showed as they looked a step ahead of the Rangers all game. However, Boston has one of the most complete teams in hockey and they are going to be a force this season.
One thing that gets overlooked with the Rangers is their lack of goal scoring last season and struggles on the power play. Both showed up tonight. The Rangers went 0-5 on the power play and managed just two shots on a 90 second 5-on-3. Rick Nash had an assist in his Rangers debut.
BLACKHAWKS RUIN KINGS CUP BANNER DAY: There was a Stanley Cup hangover today for the Los Angeles Kings. The Blackhawks jumped on the Kings early and never looked back, scoring three first period goals, en route to a 5-2 win. The Blackhawks had a lot of turmoil last season behind the scenes with management and coaching staff getting into it at practices but if the top-end talent is clicking, the Hawks have as good of a chance as anybody to come out of the west. Marian Hossa led the way with 2 goals and an assist.


It looked a re-run of the 1994-1995 48 game season tonight. Jaromir Jagr was sensational in his Stars debut, leading Dallas to a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, scoring 2 goals and adding 2 assists for a four point night. Jagr had a hand in all four goals and the “wizard” Ray Whitney also scored in his Stars debut. The Penguins won’t be seeing Jagr this season but will they? There were already rumors this week of Philadelphia planning to go after him if the Stars are out of the playoff race by the trade deadline.
As for Alex Kovalev, he returned to the NHL with a bang tonight and the Florida Panthers spoiled Jordan Staal’s debut in Carolina, knocking off the Canes, 5-1 on home ice.
Kovalev was a factor with a goal and 2 assists. The hands, creativity is still there and with his knee healthy, Kovalev’s skating looked better than it has for three to four years and the hands are still there. Rookie Jonathan Huberdeau gave the Panthers a glimpse of what’s to come, and also had a goal and 2 assists in his NHL debut.
Jordan Staal was pointless and a minus-2 in the loss. Staal, though, looked good in the offensive zone tonight, going to his power move coming out of the corner quite a bit. However, surprised to see he only had 17:00 of ice time. Carolina looked like a flawed team tonight.


Former Penguin Brian Strait was pushed right into action for the New York Islanders, after being claimed by the team on Friday. Strait had 15:48 of ice time, all at even strength, and a minus-1 in the Islanders 2-1 loss to the Devils.
*The Montreal Canadiens lost 2-1 on home ice to the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing in Michel Therrien’s debut. Watching the Canadiens tonight, they lack any offensive firepower……Zach Parise had 2 assists and Dany Heatley scored twice as the Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-2…… Tampa Bay beat Washington 6-3 behind a two goal game from Marty St. Louis. Anders Lindback made his presence early on as the Lightning were outshot 17-8 in the first period, yet held a 2-1 lead after one……..In Vancouver, Cory Schneider was pulled in the second period after giving up 5 goals on 14 shots against the Ducks, thrusting Roberto Luongo into action tonight.

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William DePaoli

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