- Paul Grant
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Highlights and lowlights from Saturday, Day 1 of 99 of the NHL season:
--Off the top: The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings were the ones with the ordinary goaltending against the Blackhawks; despite big expectations, we saw opening-day losses by the Rangers, Hurricanes and Capitals; the Blue Jackets are undefeated without Rick Nash; Cory Schneider was pulled and replaced by Roberto Luongo!
--Sidney Crosby was held off the score sheet, Evgeni Malkin looked out of sorts despite playing like a pistol in the KHL and the game was an overall sloppy affair, but the Penguins managed to bang out a 3-1 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia.
--Henrik Lundqvist went ahead and got the Glove Save of the Year award (off David Krejci; so what if it might have been over the line?) out of the way on the first day, but the Rangers got off to an inauspicious start with a 3-1 loss in Boston. The Bruins sent a bullhorn message that they should be considered Eastern Conference favorites amid all the happy hoopla that the Rangers will walk away with it.
--Still with the Rangers, their highest-profile addition, Rick Nash, had a good debut as a Blueshirt, showing gritty hustle and a tenacity on offense and defense that will quickly win him fans in the Garden. Even if it looks like he's playing with a stick that's a foot too long.
--Dany Heatley, Marian Hossa, Daniel Winnik, Brian Campbell, Radim Vrbata, Eric Brewer, Joel Ward and Martin St. Louis each scored a pair of goals, proving definitively that playing during the lockout is overrated.
--Oldster Alexei Kovalev had three points for the Panthers, proving that playing in the NHL at all last season is overrated.
--Jaromir Jagr had four points, proving it wasn't all Claude Giroux. We would be remiss not to add that fellow oldster Teemu Selanne also lit it up, notching four points in the Ducks' win over the Canucks. (Thanks for the reminder, commenters.)
--In the waning moments of the Devils-Islanders game, new Devils assistant coach Scott Stevens was seen diagramming plays on the whiteboard. If he ever takes over the line changes, that's the only time you want him looking at you and saying, "You're next."
--The night's opening ceremonies were a fridge stocked full of cheese, but none more cringe-worthy than the torch relay in Montreal. Not because it was a bad idea, but because it was anxiety personified, each calamitous step bringing those legends dangerously close to taking a header while carrying fire.
13hPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald