In today’s collection of early morning NHL headlines: Flyers newcomers play a big part in opening night win over Bruins…Introducing the 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets…Mike Richards looks forward to his first season with the Kings…Dany Heatley fitting in with his new team in Minnesota…Hurricanes Jeff Skinner faces pressure in his sophomore season…The Florida Panthers “to-do” list…Blues T.J. Oshie hoping for better performance this season…Don Cherry criticizes new league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan…Jets claim MacLean off waivers.
PHILLY.COM: New Flyers Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek played significant roles in their club’s 2-1 season-opening victory over the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins. Bryzgalov turned aside 22 shots, Jagr got his 1,600th NHL point when he set up Claude Giroux’s game-tying goal, and Voracek netted the game winner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, Flyers fans, it’s okay to exhale now. One game doesn’t make a season, but I doubt you could ask for a better start.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Aaron Portzline presents the “new and improved” Blue Jackets, fortified with a top notch center in Jeff Carter, a puck-moving blueliner in James Wisniewski, a solid plan for a new arena lease, and a likely financial fix. Now with more hope!
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a club which could use more hope. After years of spinning its wheels, they need to finally show real, sustained improvement.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Mike Richards has put his bitterness over his trade from Philadelphia behind him and looks forward to helping the Kings become Cup contenders this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Richards should bring a strong mix of offense, grit and leadership to the Kings, and should take some pressure off Anze Kopitar.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Dany Heatley has gotten over the shock of being deal this summer from the San Jose Sharks to the Minnesota Wild and appears to be settling in well with his new teammates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he meshes well with Mikko Koivu, Heatley could be good for at least 40 goals and 80 points this season.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner enters his sophomore season under the glare of local and national media.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the Hurricanes to make the playoffs, they’ll need Skinner to at least match his production of his rookie season.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers have seven key areas they need to address this season to make the playoffs. Among them: David Booth and Stephen Weiss should have career years now that the talent pool around them has deepened.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if this overhauled Panthers club can gel into a playoff contender this season.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward T.J. Oshie hopes to put an injury-shortened, disappointing 2010-11 season behind him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oshie has the skills to be star for the Blues, provided he can overcome the inconsistency which has dogged him the past couple of seasons. If he can put together a consistent effort his season, he could be good for 30 goals and 70 points.
CBC.CA: Don Cherry bashes league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, claiming the latter’s recent efforts to crack down on head shots will take hitting out of the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other news, the sun rose in the east again today, and poison is still deadly to humans. Film at 11!
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets yesterday claimed forward Brett MacLean off waivers from the Phoenix Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anyone else find it interesting the Jets claimed a player from the team that used to be the Jets?