10/06/2009 3:52 PM - By Chad Huebner
The Opening Weekend for the NHL has come and gone, and boy was it a lot of fun. Lots of stuff going on from Thursday to Saturday, so I decided to chronicle all of it in my own style, with a bunch of stream of conscious stuff. You didn’t really want to get all the cold, hard facts here anyway, did you?
But before you get to delve into my meandering thoughts, I wanted to bring up something I read on ESPN.com the other day. They had all the NHL experts pick who was going to win the divisions, the conferences, the Cup and all the individual trophies. Nice to see that five of the six experts picked the ‘Hawks to win their division, then have three of those five pick Chicago to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup, then have one of those three to pick the ‘Hawks to win it all (one of the experts picked the Finals the way I did, with the Pens winning back-to-back titles against the ‘Hawks). But then the same six experts didn’t pick a ‘Hawk to win any of the individual awards. Nada, zip, zilch zero. I find it hard to believe that if five out of six people would pick the ‘Hawks to win the division, and then to have half of those people to pick the ‘Hawks to make it to the Finals, not a single ‘Hawk would be up for awards consideration. You mean it’s too far-fetched to think Patrick Kane would win MVP? How about Johnny Toews? Maybe make Dustin Byfuglien a legitimate Selke Trophy candidate? Or is this the experts way of saying that the ‘Hawks are so laden with talent, not one single person will outshine the rest? We’ve got a long way to go to proclaim Kane, Toews and even Cristobal Huet in the same category as Hull-Mikita-Esposito, but aren’t the first three some of the best of the colleagues right now?
And yes, while I think the ‘Hawks will come up short of a championship this year, I look forward to next year, where they put it all together on the 50th anniversary of the last time they won the Cup. It always seems like teams like to win championships on anniversary years.
Anyway, on to my mental diary.
THURSDAY, OCT. 1
Washington vs. Boston. Ovie vs., umm, well, Boston. Can’t help it if the Bruins don’t have a superstar. Looks like they need one the way they’re playing tonight. When will Ovie’s engine run out of gas? 2014? That’s two years after the end of the world, though. Zdeno Chara’s a big man, but not that physical tonight. Did I forget to mention hockey is here again? GAME ON!!!!
San Jose vs. Colorado. A rare two-fer from Versus. Too bad the entire DirecTv audience is missing all of this. That’s only, what, 18 million subscribers? Does this mean ESPN will finally carry NHL again? Please? PLEASE?! Ohh, right, back to the game. Raising Sakic’s #19 to the rafters. Do they know 19 is a special number in the Stephen King/Dark Tower world? Probably not, but it was a magical number for so long, how can you top it? Well, there’s Paul Statsny, son of Peter and nephew to Anton and Marian. Damn good pedigree. Avs playing fired-up hockey. Too bad it won’t last entire season. Craig Anderson a nice fit in the nets. Is San Jose this overrated? No wait, it isn’t the playoffs yet.
FRIDAY, OCT. 2
Brunch-time hockey? First time I followed a ‘Hawks game on the computer. Not the same as on TV (duh!). 55 shots, must be enjoying that Olympic-sized ice (double duh!). But Huet keeps the Panthers hanging around. Cause for concern, or just international jitters? Better be the second choice. Weird listening to a ‘Hawks game at lunchtime. Am I sure I’m not listening to a baseball game by accident? Good to see Kane get off to a fast start. Not going to be an easy season for him on the road. Circle that Dec. 11 game at Buffalo. ‘Hawks blow 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 leads, and they can’t do anything in the shootout. So much for 82-0-0. Is Huet the answer? Hmmmm.
SATURDAY, OCT. 3
More brunch-time hockey, but at least I can watch the game without work getting in the way. Damn you, work! Nice to have a beer at 11am and not feel guilty about it. A shame Eddie O couldn’t make the trip, but he was doing commentary at the San Jose-Colorado game. Yes, Versus trumps Comcast. Anyway, team is playing all facets of this game perfectly. Shooting’s up, power-play is dominant and the defense is as tight as I’ve ever seen it. Makes Antti Niemi’s job much easier. He still made some nice saves and poke checks. Can see why he’ll be No. 2 this year, but shame that Corey Crawford didn’t see ice time before being sent to Rockford. Niemi got to play in front of friends and family, that counts bigtime. ‘Hawks cruise in this one, and The Kaner is tearing it up. Too bad we don’t play in the same division or conference as Florida.
First Chicago Wolves game on regular TV. They were broadcasting all of their games on cable long before the ‘Hawks got in on the act. Wolves need work on audio for pregame. Also need work on stopping second period comebacks. Not the same Wolves team that won the Calder in 2008. Could be a long season. Nice to see the Granatos represented this weekend: Tony coaching the Avs and Don coaching the Wolves. Now we need Cammi to coach the USA women’s team in Vancouver. Wolves lose, but I can’t wait for the next game; pro, minor or college, bring it on. Hockey’s back baby!
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