NHL preseason: Day 3 thoughts
Senators 5, Penguins 2. What a great move by the NHL to have Sidney Crosby play an exhibition game in front of a hometown crowd in Halifax last night. Coach Michel Therrien even made sure the young phenom was a factor in the game, and Crosby picked up a goal and an assist.
Blue Jackets 4, Sabres 1. Ty Conlin and Fred Norrena battled it out in the Columbus' crease for the backup role, and the veteran Finn has the early edge so far. Sergei Fedorov left this one with a shoulder injury, and his loss could be a huge blow to a team that is very, very thin down the middle. Prospects Jaroslav Balastik and Geoff Platt chipped in with 1 goal and 1 assist and both could contribute some offence in the NHL this season. Not much of note on the Sabres side, although this club must have been tired after a flight from Toronto the night before.
Bruins 5, Canadiens 2. The Bruins went with almost a full line-up here, with the only players of note sitting out being Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes. Rookie Phil Kessel impressed with two assists in nearly 18 minutes of icetime, and given the Bruins lack of scoring depth, I think he's nearly a lock to start the season in the NHL. Montreal has run into some injury problems on defence, and apparently only dressed five blueliners, most of whom played in the NHL last season. Popular rookie Guillaume Latendresse picked up a goal here.
Rangers 3, Devils 1. New York netminding prospect Al Montoya was reportedly pretty impressive here (not that there's room for him with the big club), and Slovak blueline prospect Ivan Baranka played the most minutes for the Rangers. The Devils, meanwhile, continue to break-in all kinds of newcomers, and it was centre Travis Zajac and defenceman Matt Corrente, the team's first rounder from the summer, picking up a lot of the minutes. With Brian Gionta and Paul Martin still unsigned, there could be an awful lot of spots up for grabs here. Exiled defenceman Dan McGillis also played nearly 21 minutes.
Wild 3, Red Wings 2. This was the Red Wings' rookie squad. The only veterans from last year's team in the line-up were Dan Cleary, Boyd Devereaux, Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda and Johan Franzen, and the likes of defencemen Kyle Quincy and SEL youngster Jonathan Ericsson picked up 20+ minutes. There's no room for a newcomer on the Wings blueline, so these are AHL battles for the most part. The Wild, on the other hand, had a number of veterans in the line-up, and weren't really breaking anyone of note in.
Blackhawks 2, Blues 0. Eight meetings in the regular season wasn't enough? With free-agent signing Patrick Lalime laid up with an injury, the 'Hawks have Brian Boucher in on a tryout basis, and he pinched the shutout here. All kinds of foreign names took part in this one, with defencemen Lasse Kukkonen, Dan Richmond and James Wisniewski all seeing 20+ minutes for Chicago. I think Kukkonen will be the one who sticks around, but who knows. For the Blues, former NHLer Denis Pederson suited up as a tryout player, and prospect Tomas Mojzis played more than 23 minutes.
Avalanche 4, Stars 1. The line-up sheet I have for this one says Colorado only dressed 15 skaters, which may be inaccurate given how poor the quality of preseason box scores have been so far. Defenceman Jeff Finger was the only real big-minute newcomer for the Avalanche, while the Stars spent considerable time looking at Swedish youngster Yared Hagos. Marty Turco and Jose Theodore were in goal for much of this game.
Oilers 3, Coyotes 1. This was the third game in three nights for Edmonton, highlighting just how ridiculous the exhibition schedule is for some teams this season. Tom Gilbert continued to play a lot on the Oilers blueline, as did Ladislav Smid and Jan Hejda. One or two of those three will make the big club. The Coyotes gave former Oiler Mike Morrison the reins in goal.
Flames 3, Canucks 1. Adam Cracknell, a ninth-round pick from 2004, played 16 minutes and scored the game-winning goal on the power play, probably guaranteeing a spot in Omaha this season. Flames coach Jim Playfair obviously wasn't worried about overworking his veterans here, as both Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf played 31 minutes. The Canucks had a pretty AHL-calibre line-up for this one, with Rory Fitzpatrick and Yannick Tremblay leading the defence core and Lee Goren of all people getting the most minutes at forward. Finnish-league veteran Tommi Santala apparently was one of the best Vancouver players and is likely to hang with the team in a fourth-line centre role.
Sharks 3, Kings 1. Another very prospect-heavy game, with the Sharks giving big minutes to veteran defencemen like Patrick Traverse and Tero Maatta, one of whom could catch on to fill the void left by the departing Tom Preissing. Patrick O'Sullivan saw his first action for Los Angeles and impressed despite not getting on the scoresheet, while Anze Kopitar saw 22 minutes of icetime as coach Marc Crawford took a long look at his two heralded rookies. Expect both to make the team. Bruins/Blues castoff Kevin Dallman continues to impress on the Kings blueline, although who he could replace on a deep defence core is uncertain.