In what hopes to be a weekly segment here, NHTProductions will take a look at a particular NHL game that may be hyped up, may not be, but either way - the one for whatever particular reason I choose to watch and blog about. =)
From the second the schedule came out, I knew I'd be spending my night on October 1st watching one of the greatest rivalries in sports - Montreal and Toronto.
So I rushed home, tried to dodge any distractions, grabbed a Canadian (the beverage, not a literal citizen of our sister nation), and sat back to watch the game.
Yep, beer, Canadian hockey, singing the anthem - just like a good....American. . .?
Well. . .just like a true hockey fan.
Anyway, here is a mish-mosh of what happened and random thoughts you won't get anywhere else (seriously, let me know if other people spend time blogging about this!)
* The pregame ceremony, having six former Canadian hockey players for the ceremonial faceoff, was typical Toronto class. Not overstated, just simple and classy.
*Healy, with his old yet new position in broadcasting, has the following to say about new Habs coach Jacques Martin. For those of you that don't know and haven't seen, "he will bore the country in both languages." LOL!
*Cliff Fletcher, the I'm-sure-very-nice-man who often gets poked fun at here on NHTP, looked awake as he walked into the ACC. But just in case, yes, Cliff, the hockey season has started. And, please remember, your team is the one in the white.
*1:51 into the game, Orr and Laraques go at it. Orr goes right for Laraques, but Georges get the upper hand and takes down Orr with force. Orr, takes his helmet off, and skates away smiling. I still love it and him.
*Around 5 1/2 minutes in, Martin goes to the BIG/small line of Gomez, Cammalleri, and Gionta. This prompts "another turnover by Gomez." (Note, throught the 2nd I'd noticed no less than 4 such trangressions.)
*Komisarek's first phone message after signing w/the Leafs was from Habs GM Bob Gainey. He said if there was ever anything Mike needed, to let him know, but that from this moment on, they were going to - essentially - go after his butt!
*Komisarek loses some credit with us for listing Scott Stevens as his favorite player, but...we forgive him. For now.
*Already a leader, Luke Schenn (LUKE SCHENN!) supports teammate Rosehill on his fight with Travis Moen. Note, Leafs radio on XM predicted 3 fights in tonight's game. Only 2 so far.
*Gomez gets high-sticked by Komisarek. Gionta scores the first goal of the season for the Habs on the PP off the faceoff.
*Just when it seems the Habs have taken over the game, the Leafs come back to tie as Alexei Ponikarovski pots the pill.
*Mara is praised for reading the play so well, by shooting the puck off net when there wasn't a lane.
*During Coach's Corner, Don-less Cherry talks about how important it is to stand up for your teammates, and how more people than a young Luke Schenn need to do so for the Leafs this season.
*Gomez has another "vacuous" pass to no one.
*Kostitsyn (the older and only) and Komisarek share no love. And both go to the box.
*For the Canadiens, Lappy (Lapierre), D'Agostini, and Latendresse are the most impressive line so far.
*There was a Perry Pearn sighting on the bench, during a Paul Mara penalty. I reminded myself he was no longer part of NY's powerplay, and I was okay again. Scary!
*The Leafs are skating faster, passing quicker, and shooting harder than I thought they would. Stralberg, in his 1st game, is the one who is impressing early.
*During 2nd intermission, they show some Mats Sundin clips. Glen Healy says he is no doubt a Hall of Famer. And makes a point of saying how he had "no ego" and how he felt "everyone mattered," from the guys on the ice to the guys who picked up the towels. He called him one of his favorite teammates ever. And said that even though Leafs fans may disagree, that he was the "best Maple Leaf ever." High praise of a guy I've always liked and admired by a guy I truly like and admire.
*In the 3rd, Gomez bowls over Toskala. Gomez for goalie interference after some consultation. And Komisarek in the box for what ensued after.
*Leafs coach Ron Wilson wants to stress pride of the tradition of the franchise. He gave the players a quiz on Maple Leafs history which they apparently did pretty well on. As the radio pointed out earlier, Ace Bailey was the first number retired - in ANY sport.
*Komisarek gets cheered wildly on his way to the penalty box for fighting Moen. Ron Wilson told Mike before the season not to try to win the fans over in one night. But the look on his face and response of the crowd - he is already an important member of the blue and white.
*On the ensuing powerplay, Matt Stajan scores his 2nd of the game to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead. "A confident looking powerplay" for the Leafs.
*Andrei Markov leaves the ice with the help of a teammate. Not good news for the Habs or fantasy owners everywhere. Apparently he had to be "lifted" into the Habs training room.
*Komisarek, being too aggressive, takes a late penalty, putting the Habs on the powerplay, where Glen Metropolit scores with about four minutes to go.
*Voskala makes a series of impressive saves on the Gionta/Gomez/Cammalleri line with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
*Going to overtime. And we wouldn't have it any other way...!
*Cammalleri puts the pressure on and Georges wins the game in OT. Fini.
What an amazing rivalry this is. It always is, but on opening night, where the fans in the audience sang the anthem, it just felt even more special. A mix of new faces in new places - especially on Les Habitants, it is the beginning of what should be an incredibly intense season for these two teams.
I also must clarify one small thing. I am not wishing for Gomez to fail in Montreal, but I am not wishing for him to succeed either. I hope for his sake he takes it seriously, but the less things go his way, the more fun conversations I get to listen to on Montreal radio every day. I do have my priorities.
Bottom line. I love hockey. I love the teams with rich history and both Montreal and Toronto have that. I will root for Cammalleri and Mara, as well as Schenn and Orr. It'll be a fun year.
I'm just excited it's started. It's the greatest, simply the greatest time of the year.