Without a doubt, it's the best time of the year. Opening night in the National Hockey League. And while the league officially kicked of it's 2008-09 season in Europe last weekend, the North American version got rolling last night.
Versus did an excellent job covering the banner raising ceremony in Detroit. They were able to capture the tradition of hockey-rich Detroit, in part by showing the Red Wings legends that helped bring out the 2007-08 championship banner. It never gets old seeing the likes of Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. The opening night concert, which featured Def Leopard from the Fox Theatre was a refreshing twist for fans of all ages and helped celebrate the sport and league across the city.
On the ice, I thought Toronto looked very good. Anyone who thinks the Leafs won't be improved defensively doesn't know the sport of hockey. Head coach Ron Wilson is a defensive specialist. The Leafs did an excellent job eliminating odd-man rush attempts by Detroit and provided excellent, 5-man coverages in the defensive zone. Vesa Toskala made some key saves. Should their offense play well and Jason Blake rebound offensively, the Leafs could be alot better than people think.
What about the Vancouver Canucks? They took Calgary to the woodshed with a 6-0 pasting of a team many think will win the Northwest Division. The win was overshadowed by a classy pre-game celebration of the life of Luc Bourdon, who was killed in an off-season motorcycle accident. John Ashbridge, the Canucks long time PA Announcer was outstanding in the narrative presentation of the ceremony.