In this morning’s collection of early morning NHL headlines: Ilya Bryzgalov addresses the expectations he faces in Philadelphia…The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins are anxious to start the season…Penguins defensemen looking toward a better season…Leafs MacArthur unhappy with “Shanabans”…Will Canucks Edler and Sturm face suspensions?…An unheralded defenseman could crack the Panthers blueline.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov acknowledged the heightened expectations he’ll face in his first season with the club. He’s eager to show he’s one of the best goalies in the league, but cautions he alone cannot bring the Stanley Cup to Philadelphia.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any other NHL goalie this season will face the kind of expectations Bryzgalov is going to encounter. The Flyers shipped out two popular young forwards (Mike Richards and Jeff Carter) to clear cap space for Bryzgalov’s expensive new contract. No disrespect to hockey fans in Phoenix and Anaheim, where Bryzgalov previously played, but he’s never played before a truly demanding fan base like he’s about to experience in Philadelphia. If he fails to break the Flyers two-decade cycle of mediocre goaltending, he’ll be in for a long, painful ride.
BOSTON HERALD: The defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins are looking forward to starting this new season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And why shouldn’t they? Their roster is pretty much the same one which went all the way last season. They stand a very good chance of becoming the first NHL team to repeat as Cup champions since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings.
PITTSBURGHLIVE.COM: Penguins second-year defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin are expecting better performances compared to last season. Michalek said he and Martin “know the system now. We’re comfortable now”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both needed a period of adjustment last season, having joined the Penguins as free agents. Michalek also missed nine games early last season to a shoulder injury, which also affected his game. If these two become more comfortable, they’ll help make the Penguins a tougher team to play against this season.
TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur wasn’t pleased to be suspended from the first two games of the regular season for a recent hit to the head of Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, warning the recent spate of suspensions levied by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan could result in no hitting in the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nonsense! Hitting will always remain part of the game. The league is simply trying to reduce the number of targeted hits to the head and blindside hits, and force the players to be more responsible. Had MacArthur gone shoulder-t0-shoulder on Abdelkader, he wouldn’t have been suspended.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’d agree with that assessment of the Edler hit, but not so much about the Sturm hit.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: An unheralded rookie defenseman named Michael Kostka is making a strong case to crack the Panthers blueline this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen what happens with Kostka, but I always like stories about unknown players who buck the odds and reach the NHL. Best of luck to him.