- To make any bold pronouncements (how great specific lines are already, etc.) after one game is madness, in hockey terms. But winning on the road is never a bad thing.
- Kadri was dancing, and besides playing at times with a physical edge, most importantly, he simply looked confident all night—as though (perhaps ironically, eh?) he belonged. Starting the season on the roster on the heels of a nice training camp has to feel good for the much-discussed young forward.
- I can see Kostka becoming a fan favourite in Leafland. Underdog story, came out of “nowhere” (though not really) and seems to have the kind of personality that will be embraced here.
- Kostka played more than 22 minutes, more than anyone other than Phaneuf, and was strong in the final seconds of the game.
- Franson played a dangerous two-on-one very smoothly late in the second period, helping the Leafs maintain a two-goal lead going into the final stanza. I have a sense that Franson is determined to prove he is a better defenseman than a lot of Leaf fans figured—after a less than impressive season a year ago under Wilson.
- Scoring on the power play, twice. Hey, that’s the objective. Nice start.
- Until Gionta scored late in the third, the Leafs had also been flawless on the penalty kill.
- Kudos to Scrivens. Maybe a bit shaky at times and not tested a ton, he played with confidence for the most part, and I think he has plenty of that. A more opportunistic opposition might have taken advantage of some rebounds, but he did the job.
- I’m guessing Carlyle will go with Scrivens until he loses a game. As much as I hate to see Reimer lose his job basically due to the lockout-imposed inactivity, Carlyle has made it clear he will play whoever plays well—and wins. Hard to argue with that.
- Kessel quietly started the season with two points.
- Komarov can play here. I doubt many fans are surprised.
- The Leafs seemed to flag a bit in the third (they had to be tired), but overall, they won a lot of battles for the puck, and that has been one of Carlyle’s mantras this season: win battles.
- We’re going to hear the phrase “compete level” a lot this season. It’s one of those overused terms in hockey nowadays, but the focus on competing is necessary for a squad that has not achieved anything in recent seasons. The willingness to compete is an achievable goal for any player—regardless of skill levels.
The reality check
- Montreal was one of the very worst teams in the NHL last season. They finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and earned that designation.
- Montreal’s roster is suspect at the best of times these days. They have an elite goalie in Price, of course, but without Subban in the line-up, they are clearly vulnerable. That’s not a potent offense.
- Neither team had played a game for real in ages. I’d be hesitant to place too much emphasis on one game against any team under these circumstances, but in particular I think we can say that beating Montreal is not necessarily a harbinger of things to come, though Leaf fans can hope.
- Again, we're talking one game.
Around the league:
- Luke Schenn was a plus 1 in a losing cause for the Flyers, playing just over 17 minutes.
- Another ex-Leaf, Alex Steen, had two assists for the Blues in their win.
- Nick Foligno scored in his first game for the Blue Jackets.
- 800 year-old Alex Kovalev scored in his first game for the Panthers.
- On that note, Jagr scored (twice) for the Star on opening night, too.
- The young and talented Wojtek Wolski continued his pattern of showing well early on with his new team—this time in Washington. He scored in a losing cause.
- Red Wings struggled early in St. Louis. Age? Just not the roster they used to be, more likely. They’ll likely still be there at the end, but my annual pre-season “prediction” that they will fall back may finally come true. They had 7 shots on goal in the first two periods in St. Louis, 14 overall in a 6-0 loss. Ouch.
- Erik Karlsson didn’t miss a beat for the Senators (2 points in a win).
- Hossa, Kane and Toews all scored for the Hawks. If they’re healthy, glad the Leafs not playing the West this season.
- The Kings would not have been raising a Cup banner if Quick’s save percentage in last spring’s playoffs was .773, as it was Saturday night. (I know, it’s just one game…)
- I’d be utterly shocked if the Kings repeated. They’ve had time to rest, but likely also celebrated a lot.
- I expect big things from Ryan Ellis in Nashville this season. He scored Saturday night.
- Jonathan Huberdeau scored in his first NHL game.
- Dale Hunter is not behind the bench in Washington anymore. You can tell. The Caps gave up six goals.
- Rask started the season as the new number-one in Boston and did well, though the Bruins were 0 for 7 on the power play. (He likely won't talk about the U.S. President this season.)
A win is a win is a win. Leaf fans can feel good for a couple of days. It’s been a long wait since an important victory and two big points for the blue and white.