It brings me great pleasure to say welcome to the first official coffee of the 2011-12 season. Don't you dare let anyone tell you that these games mean nothing. This isn't just about players fighting for roster spots on the Canucks, the Chicago Wolves and wherever the Canucks decide to send other players (the Missouri Mavericks are a Central Hockey League affiliate for the Wolves and are not affiliated with the Canucks, who currently haven't announced an ECHL replacement for the Victoria Salmon Kings, who folded this summer). Every pre-season game. Every scrimmage. It's all about redemption. Retribution. Revenge. Recycling. Wait, what? Sorry, despite some flattering comments the other day I too am still in pre-season form. Some thoughts on tonight's split squad matchups and more after the jump...
One thing that jumps out at you right away, especially in the game being played in Calgary is just how much the lineup the Flames are icing tonight looks like what you might see on opening night for them. Mikka Kiprusoff will start the first of his 378 games he will play this season for the Flames, and Flames regulars like Jokinen, Bourque, Tanguay, Stajan and new addition Lee Stempniak will skate tonight as well as Dmen Mark Giordano and Scott Hannan. In Vancouver the Flames will see Glencross, Hagman, Moss and our old friend Guilliame Desbiens along with Jay Bouwmeester on D.
Much of the attention in Calgary for the Canucks will focus on the 1st line of Cody Hodgson, with Victor Oreskovich and Mike...Duco? Interesting to say the least. Mark Mancari will see 2nd line time tonight, and if you open your windows around game time, I am sure you will hear squeals of joy and school-girl like giggling coming from the house of The Stanchion. Todd Fedoruk continues his comeback story on the 3rd line tonight, and Kevin Connauton gets 1st pair D minutes with Anders Erikkson.
At home tonight, more new faces, once again the first line will be the focus as it features Andrew Ebbett centering Marco Sturm and Owen Nolan. On the D Keith Ballard begins his season of personal redemption on the top pairing with Chris Tanev, and Cory Schneider will get the start, while Manny Legace gets the nod in Calgary. Being pre-season they will split duties with Eddie Lack and Matt Climie respectively. Nice to see Lack get some time between the pipes at home, even if it is pre-season.
Obviously some big names are left off these rosters, some due to injuries, as in the case of Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, etc. Jarome Iginla also hasn't resumed skating for the Flames as he deals with some back issues. I guess he's already suffering the strain from having to carry Flames fans massive expectations.
French Toast and Sausages
4 games last night kicked off the pre-season, with Nashville and Florida splitting a double-header, Buffalo beginning their pre-season with a win over Carolina with a 3-1 win and Toronto got 2 goals from Tyler Bozak in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators... The big news tonight is that the Winnipeg Jets mark their return to the NHL with a pair of split squad games against Columbus. The ice has been reinforced at the MTS Center as Dustin Byfuglien will be in the lineup tonight for the Jets...
BAND OF THE DAY- ANTHRAX
Fresh off an appearance at Yankee Stadium with the Big 4, Anthrax are back with a new album, the first with Joey Belladonna on vocals in what seems like an eternity. Make sure and check out 'Worship Music', here's the first track off the album 'Fight 'Em Til You Can't'
and a fan video from that Big 4 show... Caught In A Mosh, anyone?