Well it finally arrived. All those annoying hot summer days were suffered through just for this: opening night. No more analysis, no more projections, no more random guessing. Just drop the puck and let these guys play.
Oh, and the chumps across the ice? I believe you know a thing or two about them.
When Vancouver takes to the ice in Calgary this evening, some things will be a different. Take the absence of #2 patrolling the blueline for the first time in eleven seasons. Or having a Russian forward for the first time in six seasons.
Other parts will be similar. Luongo and the twins for starters. Pudge centering the third line. Rypien and Hordichuk muscling the fourth line. Vigneault barking orders. Mitchell and his ridiculously long stick (think Keenan still hates him?) ready for 82 games of misery before him.
If this year is like the last, then Vancouver will be bashing into Calgary all season long as the two jostle for the Northwest lead. As you know the Flames brought in a set of frowns this summer (Sutter and Bouwmeester) that will more than help erase the failures of the Keenan and Bertuzzi debacles in years gone by. They also brought in McGrattan who wants to lead the league in majors. Aww, that's swell chief. Heal up quick so we can all enjoy your pursuit at the expense of your club.
Here's some food for thought from this morning's rags:
"Everybody talks about Edmonton,’’ Flames centre Craig Conroy said. "For me, Vancouver is our main rival now. After the race we had against them last year. There’s a lot of . . . dislike.
And history (as Vancouver damn well knows) can certainly be a bitch:
Selective amnesia strikes the Calgary Flames when last year's season opener is brought up.
David Moss blanks out momentarily, then his face gives him away as the memory comes back.
"I tried to forget about it," said the big winger. "I was trying to think who we played, but then I remembered really quickly ... It was ugly."
It was a 6-0 pasting of the Flames at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place.
All well and good. But the Canucks won't be fueled by an emotional tribute to Luc Bourdon tonight. If anything the majority of them will be fueled by how last season ended with the meltdown in Chicago. We need them motivated to prove that was a fluke. Luongo needs to prove it. The Sedins need to prove it. Mitchell and the defense need to prove it.
The new blood (Ehrhoff and Shirokov) need to prove their worth, especially on the powerplay (I can't actually stress this enough; kittens will be punted left and right if they can't get the PP going for another season). Kesler and Burrows need to prove their breakthroughs weren't aberrations. SOB needs to prove he belongs in the top six. Samuelsson needs to prove he can succeed without a gaggle of Red Wings around him. Bernier needs to prove if he's a "power forward" or not.
Tonight's about who wins the first battle between the big dogs in the Northwest. Couldn't have asked for a better way to start it all off.
Here's your gameday thread for the first of 82. Jump on in.