The National Hockey League kicked off its 92nd season last night, and I got to watch a couple of beauty games. Toronto and Montreal battled into overtime before the Canadiens won the game, and Vancouver and Calgary lit up the scoresheet in a 5-3 Flames victory. With the season finally underway, the Penguins got down to business tonight by raising a new banner to the rafters before going out and defeating their divisional rivals in the New York Rangers by a 3-2 score. With the NHL back to the office, bloggers and media alike can sift through stories for news and information. That's what I'm doing here today. Here's what happened in the news from the past week.
- Hockey is apparently doing well on Versus despite DirecTV not having a deal with the NHL's US cable network. Versus posted its highest opening night numbers ever, showing that 832,781 viewers tuned in to watch the Capitals-Bruins game and the Sharks-Avalanche game. While less than one million people tuned in, that's a pretty good number considering that Versus is hitting less households in their dispute with DirecTV. While it's not a number they want to top out at, it's something to build on for Versus.
- Montreal's most reliable defenceman, Andrei Markov, got some bad news today. After getting tangled up with goaltender Carey Price in last night's game, Markov found out today that a broken tendon in his ankle will keep him out until mid-February. Markov led the Habs in scoring from the blueline last season, and Montreal is 7-20 without him in the lineup. Here's hoping that Markov can make a speedy recovery.
- Ray Emery made a statement tonight as his return to the NHL was a zero. He backstopped the Flyers to a 2-0 victory, posting a shutout on 28 saves against the Carolina Hurricanes. Emery looked sharp all night, and made a couple of key saves to preserve the shutout. If the Flyers can get quality goaltending like this out of Emery night in and night out, they will be a force in the Eastern Conference this season.
- On The Forecheck is back with Dan Ellis' new mask. If you ask me, the sabertooth tiger looks a little Ice Age-ish. Here's a picture of Diego. Compare for yourself? Whaddya think? Comments are welcome! Decent mask, though.
- If the splash page is to be believed, the Colorado Avalanche will have a new member of their team tomorrow night. The Avalanche will unveil a mascot tomorrow! As you may remember, the Avalanche used to have a mascot named "Howler" that lived at the Pepsi Center and loved Avalanche games. The silhouette looks a little like Howler. Maybe he has finally come home to Denver?
- Speaking of Denver, Sakic's retirement ceremony last night saw Sakic's number retired by the team. Sakic thanked everyone, including the fans in Quebec City, and it was a very classy ceremony. The Avalanche wore a patch in honour of Sakic's retirement during the game as well.
- Did you know that the Phoenix Coyotes are the only team that has banners hanging in its arena from its former WHA team? They have retirement banners hanging at the Jobing.com Arena in Winnipeg Jets' red-white-and-blue for Bobby Hull and Thomas Steen. The Colorado Avalanche have no banners honouring the former Nordiques, and the Carolina Hurricanes do not honour any of the Hartford Whalers' history. I found that to be quite interesting. But then again, I'm a hockey nerd.
- For those of you looking for more trivia, the first player to score in Texas Stars' history is defenceman Maxime Fortunus. Fortunus netted a powerplay goal at the 19:34 mark of the first period to put his name into the record books. For the record, San Antonio defeated Texas by a 3-2 score.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!