James Neal is on a mission, Jordan Staal is thirsty, and hockey is back. What a game last night from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, where before the face-off fans gathered to celebrate losing the Stanley Cup and then trying to destroy the whole city. Based on what we saw Thursday, they may get the chance to do it all again next spring, this time with a different dance partner in black and gold.
- Marc-Andre Fleury scored another goal on himself last night, breaking his own record for most goals scored against oneself and extending his lead over the second-place goalie to approximately 612 goals. He scores so many goals against his own team that he should play for the Capitals. He did complete the MAF hat trick by making a jaw-dropping game-saving stop in regulation and then again in the shootout, so the report on him is pretty much the same as it always is: he had plenty of "Fleury-moments" both good and bad.
|We could never stay mad at you.|
- We wondered as Letang skated in on Luongo if he added any moves to his shootout repertoire over the summer. He did.
- For anyone who expected Evgeni Malkin to score 7 goals last night, this was a good outcome. Reel yourselves in. He's going to be more than fine. Watching Malkin and Jimmy Neal on a line together is like watching two Clydesdales pull a stroller. Once they get in rhythm, hide your children and undersized defensemen.
- Stevie Sullivan must feel like he died and went to a place full of large swaths of open ice.
- We've heard a lot lately about the latest Dan Bylsma man-crush, Joe Vitale, and based on his first-game performance, this one looks justified. Vitale is a waterbug out there, and he looks entirely comfortable at this level. That's not to say he is clearly better than Richard Park, but he did nothing but solidify his spot on the 4th line.
- You know something? Matty Niskanen wasn't too bad. Ah, the sweet smell of possibility from that first hockey game in October. It's all out there for the taking. LGP. GTOG.