Rather than just a bunch of random thoughts, I’m going to try to keep it to four for each game this year. We’ll see how it goes.
- The third line already looks miles ahead of last year’s. Remember, last year was the year the third line never really got it together: Chris Kelly struggled, Rich Peverley struggled, and the third skater featured a revolving door of players. Last night, Kelly was probably the best player on the ice, Jordan Caron looked like he finally woke up, and even Reilly Smith fit in nicely. If he continues to play like he did last night, Caron probably won’t find himself out of the lineup when Carl Soderberg is ready to return. Truthfully, the entire trio may stay intact, and Soderberg could be on the sidelines. One game doesn’t make a season, but Kelly appears determined to right the wrong that was his 2012-2013 season, and it looks like his line has the horses (pun intended, Jordan Caron) to make some noise.
- Jarome Iginla played like a guy who wanted to endear himself to his new teammates and especially to his new fanbase. There were grumblings on Twitter that Iginla was greeted with a smattering of boo’s as the game started, which is juvenile, but apparently some fans still have hard feelings towards the Flames legend. However, Iginla threw a big hit on his first shift, had a couple of scoring chances, and fought Radko Gudas. Nothing like dropping the gloves to win over the Garden. I say it was done on purpose because Iginla himself said that the hit by Gudas was clean (and really, it was a terrible pass by Milan Lucic, reminiscent of the awful pass that led to Lars Eller’s injury last year), and that he thought it was just the right time to do so (read: I wanted to fire up the crowd). If he keeps playing like he did last night, he’ll be welcomed with open arms.
- The penalty kill looked strong last night, which is a good sign. The Bruins have routinely been near the top of the league in PK efficiency for the past few years, making last year’s occasional PK slumps all the more surprising. The B’s killed off every penalty they received last night, including a couple of extended 5-on-3’s. Making the feat more impressive is the fact that Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis were among the skaters on those penalty kills, two of the more prolific power play producers in the NHL. Ideally, the B’s will stay out of the box this year, but it’s good to know that it looks like the PK can be depended on again this season.
- Anders Lindback didn’t exactly look like the solution in goal last night for Tampa. This is a team that has struggled to find a goalie for years now, only finding a temporary solution in Dwayne Roloson in 2011. I’m not sure if Ben Bishop will be any better, but Lindback wasn’t exactly inspiring last night. Obviously it’s not terribly fair to make judgments based off of a single game, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Lindback can’t be faulted for Kelly’s tremendous deke. However, he seemingly whiffed on Milan Lucic’s goal, and somehow let Bergeron’s squeeze past him. He also very nearly completely missed on an attempted glove save, and had a few other hairy moments. Tampa has elite offensive talent, but their defense and goaltending is suspect. The Bolts need some back-end help before this team’s offensive prime passes it by.