See this is what happens when you stop a team from playing for five damn days: a first round pick, last seen teetering on the brink of bust city, gets called up because of a slew of injuries and it's a 24 hour media pile on.
In a way this is good stuff. With two forgettable preseasons under his belt, we've wondered if Grabner would ever make his presence felt at the NHL level. After practicing on the first line and with second power play unit yesterday, Grabs said:
I’m just going to try and go out and do what I do in Winnipeg. I’m playing with great players and I have to take the chance. They are great set-up guys so it’s going to be a lot of fun to play with them.
AV played along as well:
Grabs was the best player the last three games Manitoba played and, obviously with two of our top six forwards out in Demitra and Daniel [Sedin], we needed someone to be able to step into that role and assume that job...Michael is an offensive player with great speed and a pretty good touch around the net so we’re hoping he’ll be able to fill that role for us.
This could be the first time I've heard AV say something positive - even neutral - about Grabner. Miracles can happen.
Though always subject to change, the new lines in practice looked like this:
Burrows – H. Sedin – Grabner
Raymond – Kesler – Samuelsson
Bernier – Wellwood – Johnson
Hordichuk – Rypien – Glass
Bieksa – Mitchell
O’Brien – Ehrhoff
Rome – Edler
At least that fourth line will be unpleasant for Calgary. But that third line doesn't inspire too much confidence (certainly not until Wellwood finds his offensive game). So if the second line hits a wall, then the SwedeAlexGrab line will have even more pressure, if not outright end quickly if the Flames take it to 'em.
But let's not be negative. Besides, how often can we celebrate a heralded Vancouver draft pick making their grand entrance onto the hockey stage? A brief history:
- Shirokov was also selected in 2006 (sixth round, 163 overall) and his first game (also against Calgary) he finished with no points and a -1.
- Luc Bourdon's first game in 2006 was against Minnesota and he also didn't register a point, but was even on the scoresheet.
- In 2007 Mason Raymond (2nd round pick, 51st overall in the 2005 draft) notched an assist on three shots in his first NHL start (and coincidentally he played on the top line with the Sedins).
- Cory Schneider lost his NHL debut (also against Calgary!) last November in a 3-1 loss. Other picks from 2004 and their first game results: second round pick Alex Edler was pointless in a loss to Colorado back in 2006, fifth round pick Mike Brown was scoreless but received five minutes for trying to destroy Aaron Voros and ninth round pick Jannik Hansen was scoreless in a 3-0 loss to Nashville in 2007.
- Ryan Kesler, first rounder in 2003, was scoreless and only registered one shot in his first game, a losing effort to Toronto in November of that year. Nathan McIver, 8th round selection from 2003, was a -3 with 7 PIMs during an Anaheim 6-0 romp in November 2006.
- I had to stop at the 2002 draft year because it's so terribly depressing to look at.
So, no pressure at all Mr. Grabner. Hockey history awaits you. How do you think our newest savior will do tomorrow?