Opening Night blog: Hockey's back

Updated: October 6, 2005, 1:14 AM ET
ESPN.com

We're all here and we're ready … Opening Night in the NHL.

Through the first round of games, we were blogging from throughout the continent.

We'll start things off with a little stat hit: the odds for the Stanley Cup finals. According to the Glantz-Culver Line, Philly is a 5-1 favorite to win the Cup (are there separate odds for the slight chance Peter Forsberg gets hurt?). Ottawa is at 7-1, and Detroit is at 8-1. Calgary, Tampa Bay and Colorado are all at 10-1.

Drop the puck!

Joy Russo, ESPN.com NHL editor: Welcome! We'll start bloggin' at 7 p.m. ET!

Russo (7:01 p.m. ET): It's interesting to see how all of the pregame telecasts are giving viewers a long, in-depth tutorial on the new rules. They are also showing highlights of some of the most classic NHL moments, like Bobby Orr's leap against the St. Louis Blues, etc.

ESPN.com contributor Terry Frei checks in from the Rangers-Flyers tilt in Philly (7:02 p.m. ET): The press corps tonight in the Wachovia Center press box is Philadelphia-area media, New York-area media, me, and, thanks to the presence of the Flyers' Peter "Foppa" Forsberg -- every journalist from Sweden. If King Carl Gustaf abdicates in the next 24 hours, there won't be any reporters in Sweden to cover it.

ESPN.com senior coordinator and puckhead Steve Miller checks in from ... ?? (7:04 p.m. ET): This OLN set feels like the McKenzie Brothers.

Russo (7:05 p.m. ET): Good to see Bill Clement back.

Donald Trump
APDonald Trump says he's happy the NHL is back. But Gary, he'll be watching ...

Russo (7:08 p.m. ET): OLN breaks out DONALD TRUMP. He said he believes in the NHL, and he didn't say Gary Bettman is fired.

Miller (7:12 p.m. ET): So Jagr turned down the Rangers' captaincy because he felt someone else could speak better English … but he's the one talking during the pregame.

Russo (7:13 p.m. ET): OLN breaks out Jack Edwards. He's talking to Martin St. Louis. It still amazes me how successful St. Louis is. Unfortunately, Jack didn't break out his "Mine eyes have seen the glory" or his "The Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave" lines.

Miller (7:17 p.m. ET): Why didn't OLN just interview Mario [Lemieux] in an alley outside the arena?

ESPN.com's Scott Burnside checks in from Pens-Devils (7:20 p.m. ET): As a Canadian, it's still a bit startling to show up to an arena like the Continental Airlines Arena and see full-fledged tailgating going on. Sausages on the BBQ in the backs of pickup trucks or under portable awnings. In Canada, you'd never see that! Restrictive laws surrounding the consumption of alcohol, plus the fact that it's freezing cold outside most Canadian rinks once the hockey season is in full swing, makes such revelry unknown.

Russo (7:20 p.m. ET): The Sabres' J.P. Dumont scores the first goal of the NHL season!

ESPN The Magazine's E.J. Hradek checks in from Pens-Devils (7:25 p.m. ET): Sidney [Crosby] looks very pretty in his white road sweater!

ESPN.com contributor George Johnson checks in from Flames-Wild (7:29 p.m. ET): Wild expected to start Manny Fernandez in goal. Either a strained neck or back spasms has thrown Dwayne Roloson into the breach against Calgary's No. 1 unit, the ALI line of Amonte, Langkow and Iginla. Wild missing Marian Gaborik (groin), and Saku's big-little brother, 6-foot-3-inch Mikko Koivu.

Russo (7:30 p.m. ET): Roloson! Great for my fantasy team!

Johnson (7:32 p.m. ET): The home guys in the spearmint chewing gum jerseys are wearing WILD FANS in place of nameplates for the warm-ups. Nice gesture. Problem is, from about the 10th row up, they must be awful tough to read …

Burnside (7:36 p.m. ET): The Devils did a bit before the opening faceoff, showing their mascot panhandling during the lockout. The NHL should have used the same idea for their marketing campaign, showing Mario Lemieux flipping burgers and Joe Sakic doing a paper route and getting the call that the game was back on. Might have passed the Martha Burk test at any rate.

Frei (7:36 p.m. ET): An aside, we're taking votes/advice. What's the best place for a postgame cheesesteak? Pat's, Geno's or Jim's? And with or without (if you have to ask, you can't vote)?

Burnside (7:42 p.m. ET): It took Sidney Crosby less than a minute to record his first shot on goal. Picking up a loose puck to the right of Devil netminder Martin Brodeur, Crosby walked out untouched and flipped a backhander into Brodeur's pads. He also made a nice pass to John LeClair. All in all a fine acquitting for a 30-second introduction to the NHL.

Russo (7:44 p.m. ET): Who knew? Rangers go up first on the Flyers. It's an ol' MSG reunion in the booth with Sam and J.D.

Burnside (7:46 p.m. ET): Moments later Crosby was out again as part of the Penguins' second powerplay unit. Working the puck down low he made a nice pass to Mark Recchi who tried to feed LeClair in front. … When Vladimir Malakho went off for hooking at the 4-minute mark the stadium staff played Billy Joel's "Innocent Man." They'd better get a spare copy given the rate at which penalties will be called at least early in the season.

Hradek (7:48 p.m. ET): Four minutes into the season and Brodeur has already made three big saves. He stopped Crosby, then he turned back Pens forwards Matt Hurley and Rico Fata. I guess some things won't change.

Russo (7:48 p.m. ET): What else doesn't change? Peter Forsberg setting up a teammate with a perfect pass … Forsberg dished the puck to Simon Gagne, who put it home. Game tied.

Russo (7:49 p.m. ET): Jagr with the hooking call. Shocking.

Russo (7:51 p.m. ET): And Kasparatis has joined him ... the braintrust and leadership of the Rangers in the box. It's going to be a looooong season for the Blueshirts. Didn't take long for the Flyers to score on the two-man advantage, all controlled by Forsberg. Nah, the Rangers didn't need him.

Burnside (7:51 p.m. ET): The Devils have been shorthanded for about seven minutes straight. In spite of that, the Penguins haven't been able to bury their chances early. That includes free-agent sniper Ziggy Palffy, who got the yips with an open net and couldn't get his stick on the puck. A little rust maybe? or nerves?

Burnside (7:55 p.m. ET): Midway through the first and the Penguins are outshooting the Devils 14-2, but bet no one's having more fun than Devils netminder Marty Brodeur.

Frei (7:57 p.m. ET): See Forsberg play the puck off the back of the net on the power play? There's less room back there this season, but he could find room to be creative in a phone booth.

ESPN.com contributor Damien Cox checks in from the Sens-Leafs game at the ACC (7:59 p.m. ET): As has been the tradition in Toronto, the 48th Highlanders drum and pipe band has hit the ice prior to game time, as has been the case for every Maple Leaf opening night since 1931. They will conclude, as has been a more recent tradition, with The Maple Leaf Forever. But before they do, yes, Stompin' Tom Connors has stepped out to do a live version of The Hockey Game. What can I tell you … it's a Canadian thing.

Russo (8:00 p.m. ET): "The good ol' hockey gaaaaaame, is the best game you can nammmme! The goalies jump and the players bump ... "

Russo (8:03 p.m. ET): If you are a hockey fan and you don't know that song, you MUST do the Google search! My brothers and I were singing it all night during a hockey trip over some Moose-tinis at The Loose Moose. Shout out to The Loose Moose! If you're in downtown Toronto, you must go there. Hockey on the TVs, everywhere!

Frei (8:03 p.m. ET): A flash of realization as the first period ends: Simon Gagne is going to score 60 goals this season. He was 15, the son of a policeman in suburban Quebec City, and devastated after Forsberg played the shorted '95 season as a rookie with the Nordiques -- and then the team left town.

Hradek (8:05 p.m. ET): I have to say, it doesn't seem like we went an entire year without hockey. Several of the writers in the press box made the same comment. The near-sellout crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena has been revved up.

Ken Hitchcock
Getty ImagesKen Hitchcock ... little man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, or Captain Kangaroo? You be the judge.

Burnside (8:09 p.m. ET): Brooks Orpik just took a holding penalty that you'd need a magnifying glass and the slowest of slow motion to detect. But these are the calls that have to be made if the game is going to open up the way it needs to. Let's see if Orpik learns his lesson the rest of the way tonight.

Hradek (8:10 p.m. ET): Under-appreciated Devils forward Sergei Brylin scores the first goal of the game off a goal-mouth scramble at the 16:55 mark. The backhand eluded goalie Jocelyn Thibault. Crosby suffers the first minus of his career.

Burnside (8:13 p.m. ET): In answer to our earlier question regarding Brooks Orpik's learning curve, the answer is "No." He hasn't quite got it as he takes a tripping penalty with less than a minute to go in the period and the Devils immediately cash in for a 2-0 lead. The goal is scored by the Devils' own hot prospect, Zach Parise. It is his first NHL goal.

Russo (8:13 p.m. ET): RATS! I picked Zach up for my fantasy team, but he's on the bench!!!!! $%^$#@@#$%^#$^%$!!!

Russo (8:13 p.m. ET): The Commish!

Miller (8:16 p.m. ET): This between-periods interview would be a lot better if it was The Big Whistle interviewing King Clancy.

Miller (8:17 p.m. ET): YEAH! The Nuge!! He rocks!!

Russo (8:17 p.m. ET): For those not playing along, OLN just showed a commercial for Ted Nugent's hunting show. Hockey fans will have to watch these throughout the season. But hey, here's a shout out to Phil Liggett!

Russo (8:20 p.m. ET): Tom Renney, a man that can move mountains.

Cox (8:22 p.m. ET): First official screw up of year -- 1:32 into game, out-of-position Ed Belfour sticks his glove out to apparently stop a Bryan Smolinski shot ... game continues without a review, but replay shows the puck was clearly over the line.

Russo (8:24 p.m. ET): Hey Frei! Tell the media gang that the early leader in our Cheesesteaks Poll is Geno's!

Cox (8:27 p.m. ET): At 4:50 of the first, Leafs send out defense pairing of Carlo Colaiacovo and Andy Wozniewski, both for first NHL shift ... Scrabble players celebrate!

Russo (8:27 p.m. ET): I got another one -- Curtis Leschyshyn. Pat, I'd like to buy a vowel!

Johnson (8:27 p.m. ET): Who says the Wild are boring? Just 1:43 in, Marc Chouinard wins a faceoff from Chuck Kobasew and then cashes in the rebound off an Alexandre Daigle shot from out of the corner. Kiprusoff, the Flames' MVP last season, didn't look like a potential Vezina Tropny winner on that one.

Russo (8:29 p.m. ET): Did anyone know that Boomer Esiason had his own TV show on MSG. Nothing against Boom, but there has to be some hockey guys that should have their own show before him. Hmm ... let's think?

ESPN.com's version of Stat Boy chimes in with a dispute (8:30 p.m. ET): "Problem with the Cheesesteak poll is that Jim's is underrated due to location. Even though South Street is a definite cheesesteak haven, Geno's and Pat's being right across the street from each other taints the poll numbers."

Russo (8:30 p.m. ET): Power to the people. Vote!

Miller (8:31 p.m. ET): My vote for TV show -- Jeremy Roenick can do "ThisWeek in Labor Relations."

Russo (8:32 p.m. ET): Meet The Press with Claude Lemieux.

Miller (8:34 p.m. ET): Wow! Mats Sundin got hit in the face with a puck. Hope he's OK, but he fell like a tree. It didn't look like he was wearing a visor.

Russo (8:34 p.m. ET): NOOOOOOOO! Not Mats! The Oil's Ryan Smyth got a puck over the eye during the playoffs one year and came back, bloody jersey and all. The hockey hero!

Cox (8:35 p.m. ET): Looks serious, particularly since he doesn't wear a visor. Interestingly, 22-year-old Colaiacovo has taken his visor off for the game after wearing one throughout his minor, junior and pro career.

Johnson (8:35 p.m. ET): Former Hobey Baker winner Jordan Leopold has switched to No. 6 this season. As fate would have it, U.S.-born ex-Flame Phil Housley, who used to wear No. 6, is in the house this evening. ... Flame coach Darryl Sutter is using rookie Dion Phaneuf as Roman Hamrlik's power-play point partner ... First penalty: Pascal Dupuis of the Wild at 5:53 for high sticking. The queue to the sin bin might be longer than for Stones tickets.

Frei (8:36 p.m. ET): Early in the second period here. And everything was right in the world until four people came up to me between periods and said life was good because THEY HAVE FORSBERG ON THEIR FANTASY LEAGUE TEAMS! Geez, can't even get away from it in the press box. I would like to make an announcement. Fantasy leagues are wonderful, BUT EVERYONE AROUND YOU DOESN'T NEED TO KNOW EVERY TIME SOMEONE ON YOUR TEAM GETS A POINT! (Uh, no offense, Blog Moderator.)

Russo (8:37 p.m. ET): No offense taken. I am only in one league. My better half, however, is in about 10 baseball fantasy leagues. Hmm.

Burnside (8:40 p.m. ET): Take a look at Ryan Malone of the Penguins. He is the spitting image of Boston captain Joe Thornton. Same hair, same big presence. Separated at birth?

Russo (8:41 p.m. ET): OK, hockey rant. When a team is on the power play -- SHOOT THE PUCK! Watching the Leafs, skate around, passing the puck around. Look, when you send the puck TOWARD the net, chances are better that it might go in. With the sound of the collective groan at the ACC, I know the Leaf Faithful are with me!

Miller (8:42 p.m. ET): Maybe the Rangers keep taking penalties because they think they're helping some bizarre Fantasy League owner somewhere.

Russo (8:43 p.m. ET): That Molson commerical with the guys singing What a Feeling from Flashdance is fantastic. Better than the Bud-Weis-eeeeeeeeeer Frogs.

Russo (8:45 p.m. ET): Latest on Mats ... he's out for the game. So sad. He's only missed 24 games in 11 seasons with Toronto. They don't make 'em like that anymore!

Miller (8:46 p.m. ET): Refs speaking directly to the fans, like the football refs. That rocks.

Burnside (8:48 p.m. ET): Why don't we hear Stompin' Tom Connors at any American rinks? Bud the Spud and Sudbury Saturday Night should be required listening at every NHL game.

Russo (8:48 p.m. ET): "Where players dance with skates that flash the home team trails behind ... But they grab the puck, go bursting up, they're down across the line ... They storm the crease like bumble bees, they travel like a burning flame ... we see them slide the puck inside it's a 1-1 hockey game!" Great stuff. Better than that Cotton Eyed Joe crap.

Burnside (8:50 p.m. ET): We're midway through the game and this is where the conditioning is going to be a factor either positively or negatively. Example? John LeClair was just whistled for a hooking penalty in the offensive zone. Tsk. Tsk.

Miller (8:50 p.m. ET): Man, Nylander hits the crossbar, then the pipe on the penalty shot. Great to see a penalty shot already.

Frei (8:52 p.m. ET): Already shorthanded, the Rangers get a too-many-men penalty. In the immortal words of Ralph Kramden, whose route was near Madison Square Garden and noted that he just had X-rays of his head taken: "And you know that they showed, Alice? Nothing!"

Russo (8:52 p.m. ET): Too many men on the ice? Where's Don Cherry?!

Hradek (8:52 p.m. ET): With all the penalties the Devils have taken tonight, penalty-killing guru John Madden has been on the ice quite a bit tonight. I got to skate with Madden during the lockout. Great guy, but no finishing touch! I'm sure he'll love me for that.

Russo (8:53 p.m. ET): Hey! Leafs coach Pat Quinn is being interviewed on TSN. No word on Sundin, but Quinn has a black eye! What happened!? Did Rob Dibble raid the locker room? I can hear Sweet Lou now ... "Be a man!"

Hradek (8:55 p.m. ET): In the middle of the second period, Crosby is frustrated. He came to the bench after a shift in the Devils' zone and doesn't seem too thrilled. On the previous play, defenseman Paul Martin did a nice job of bottling him up in the corner. ... Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault doesn't seem on top of his game. He has left several rebounds loose in his crease. With Pittsburgh's inexperienced defense, he's got to take charge of that crease. If he doesn't, he's going to get a good burn from that red light behind him.

Johnson (8:55 p.m. ET): Flames get another power play, and generate nothing. Zilch. Absolutely nada. No shots. Wild go back on the man-advantage thanks to a Steve Reinprecht interference minor, and set up a last-second shot that appears to have deflected off Calgary D Steve Montador and in behind Kiprusoff. Brent Burns gets the goal. Would love to be in that room listening to the acidic Darryl Sutter tear a strip off his Stanley Cup "favorites."

Hradek (9:00 p.m. ET): Snakebit no more! Gionta makes a great play along the RW boards. He steals the puck from Orpik, drives to the net avoiding a sliding sweepcheck from Rob Scuderi, then bats his own rebound past Thibault, who continues to spit rebounds all over the slot. I can remember what one scout told me about Gionta. He said, "If you want to win, you want Gionta." With the new rules, a smart skater like Gionta could be even more valuable.

Burnside (9:00 p.m. ET): Maybe the reports of the Devils' demise were a tad premature.

Miller (9:00 p.m. ET): Florida is leading Atlanta in the third period, 1-0. Speaking of Florida, did you see the story about the python out in the Everglades that tried to swallow an alligator whole, and then exploded? Almost as messy as the Panthers' handling of Roberto Luongo's contract.

Russo (9:01 p.m. ET): That's like the one that starts with "did you hear the one about the chicken that crossed the road?"

Hradek (9:05 p.m. ET): Thankfully, after two periods, we're treated to some human bowling. You just never get enough of this stuff! Actually, the Devils' girls -- a new touch -- are pretty cute!

Russo (9:05 p.m. ET): Right up there with Stanley C Panther, the mascot in Florida. I once punched him square in the eyes after he tugged my Messier jersey. True story. No mascots and no frills at games, please!

Less than an hour left to BLOG

Frei (9:10 p.m. ET): Forsberg's grab of Nylander leads to a penalty shot! Two other members of the Rangers tried to come off the bench and get shots, too, but they had to be reminded that that's only after the overtime.

Frei (9:12 p.m. ET): After Jamie Lundmark took advantage of a bad Flyer pass and blasted one by Robert Esche to close the Rangers to within 3-2, we've got to give New York credit for hanging in there. And tell Damien I'm finishing his book "67" on the plane tomorrow. A great read for hockey fans (or anyone else), by the way. And I'm sitting not far from The New York Post's Jay Greenberg, who shares the distinction with me of having been a young beat writer covering the New Jersey Devils before they were the New Jersey Devils -- Jay, when they were the Kansas City Scouts, and me, when they were the Colorado Rockies. And whatever happened to Michel Plasse, anyway?

Johnson (9:13 p.m. ET): Jacques Lemaire is using Wes Walz, Matt Foy and Stephane Veilleux against the Iginla line, which went shotless in the first period. Iginla's looking PO'ed. You get the feeling he may drop the mitts to give his passionless side some life. ... Calgary has doubled its shot total to six in the first 3:31 of the period. ... Kiprusoff's double save on Todd White and defenseman Willie Mitchell keeps his team within hailing distance.

Burnside (9:15 p.m. ET): Of the two teams, it seems the Devils are more comfortable making the long pass now that it's available to teams with the removal of the center red line. That's surprising given the offensive firepower the Penguins possess. Just goes to show you it's a state of mind, not necessarily a state of skill.

Russo (9:15 p.m. ET): Is it just me, or does Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock look like the little man behind the curtain from the Wizard of Oz? You be the judge, I might have just worked too long this week.

Russo (9:16 p.m. ET): Flipping through the channels here in Bristol, I am still seeing a lot of phyiscal play. Scrums along the boards, hits ... the new rules don't seem to be taking anything away.

Burnside (9:16 p.m. ET): The Kid logged 5:31 in the second period, but in a strange hockey optical illusion, seemed to do less. We have to stop staring. There's no optical illusion when it comes to the Penguins' power play though -- 0-for-7. Ouch.

Russo (9:17 p.m. ET): Geno's still leading the poll, Pseudo-Stat Boy.

Burnside (9:18 p.m. ET): Crosby starts the third period with Recchi and new winger Ziggy Palffy. With all due respect to John LeClair, this makes more sense. We'll see if the upgrade in speed and skill yields results.

Johnson (9:18 p.m. ET): Chris, Crimein' Simon, makes his first visit to the stir and the Wild cash again, a lovely little backhand flip pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard at the side of net to Kyle Wanvig, just when Calgary seemed to have awoken from their stupor. ... The attendance: 19,398, a Wild/Xcel Energy Center record. More from the felony-riddled Flames -- Shean Donovan for holding.

Russo (9:20 p.m. ET): Kasparatis in the box again for the Rangers. He's shaking his head. I hope he isn't going to whine all season. You didn't see Mats whine after getting the puck to the face, did you?

Russo (9:22 p.m. ET): Wild crowd in Buffalo. 5-4 lead over the Isles. There a LOUD boos each time Miroslav Satan touches the puck. I love it. I wish we weren't getting the MSG feed of this game. Nothing against MSG, of course, but Rick Jeanneret is da man. Doh! The Isles just got called for a penalty. Could it beeeeeeee ... Satan? Buffalo also has one of the best goal-scoring horns, too. Right up there with Edmonton.

Burnside (9:27 p.m. ET): It's nice to see that Devils fans haven't forgotten the old traditions like the sporadic and completely random chants wishing the Rangers luck. What? They're not saying "luck?"

Burnside (9:30 p.m. ET): There it is. Crosby picking up a loose puck in the corner, taking a stride and in the same moment feeding a delicate pass to Mark Recchi going to the net. Very nice. That's a keeper. Crosby gets his first career point, an assist.

Another disgruntled message from ESPN.com resident Stat Boy (9:31 p.m. ET): By continuing to announce that Geno's is in the lead, I think you are dissuading Jim's fans from voting. It's sort of like when Bush got angry in 2000 that news organizations had called Florida for Gore before the polls closed in the panhandle part of the state. Jim's fans -- do not be dissuaded. Rise up and vote! SOUTH STREET PRIDE!

Russo (9:31 p.m. ET): Get a life?

Miller (9:32 p.m. ET): I keep hoping Satan gets traded to the Devils ... but then, I also used to hope that David Faust would get sent to Jersey so he could "ink a pact with the Devils."

Johnson (9:33 p.m. ET): Roloson's first meaningful save, standing his ground as Iginla is set free behind the Wild defense by Roman Hamrlik. If that doesn't kill the visitors' spirit, nothing will. ... Good thing there's public health care in Canada, because if this scoreline stands, there'll be a lot of broken ankles in need of repair tomorrow in Calgary.

Frei (9:35 p.m. ET): Hey Russo, I don't know what this means, but I have been told to tell you to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, and there's no place like home, and ding, dong, the witch is dead, and the Rangers just tied it up because Robert Esche couldn't handle an eminently stoppable Jagr shot on the power play.

Burnside (9:35 p.m. ET): It must be the first game of the season, the young guys, including Crosby, hardly bother to sit down while they're on the bench. Le'ts see if that's still the case in Game 64.

Hradek (9:36 p.m. ET): Gionta and Parise -- nice start for two U.S. college kids. The Devils aren't very big up front, but they are quick. They seem to be getting to the net very quickly.

Russo (9:36 p.m. ET): Gionta -- BC PRIDE!

Frei (9:38 p.m. ET): Aw, it just ain't the same without Mark Messier.

Russo (9:38 p.m. ET): Note to all ... that's a dig to yours truly!

Miller (9:39 p.m. ET): Rangers score twice in 34 seconds. ... it's only one game, it's only one game, it's only one game.

Burnside (9:39 p.m. ET): Here's a score for you. Buffalo 6 New York Islanders 4. In the old NHL it would have taken these two teams four games to come up with 10 goals between them.

Hradek (9:42 p.m. ET): There are a lot of NHL types in the crowd tonight. The league's second and third in command -- Bill Daly and David Zimmerman -- are in the stands. Across the rink, I can see Daly working his Blackberry. That guy can handle that little computer. ... About halfway through the third period, the crowd has thinned out a bit. Perhaps, some Yankee fans are trying to get home for the 10 p.m. start against the Angels?

Johnson (9:44 p.m. ET): Minnesota's second goaltender interference penalty of the evening ends up in it net. Daymond Langkow scores his first as a Flame, stepping out to Roloson's left, his pass deflecting off the goaltenders's stick and then the left skate of defenseman Brent Burns and in at 17:13. At the buzzer, Simon and McCarty stirring the pot, drawing a scrum along the boards. ... Calgary ends the period with a bit of life.

Frei (9:45 p.m. ET): Jagr scores again on the power play to ... hold on, now Marcel Hossa scores for the Rangers, too, and it's 5-3. The ice has tilted, the Flyers look gassed, and maybe the Rangers won't go 0-82, after all.

Burnside, checking out (9:47 p.m. ET): Time's winding down. Time to make the long trek to the dressing room and collect the usual cliches about taking it one step at a time, and staying within themselves, and not looking too far ahead, and not getting too high or too low. But in the meantime, this has been a pretty good tilt. It's going to wrap in less than 2½ hours, the two teams will have combined for more than 65 shots and a couple of "oohs" and "aahhs." Sure beats listening to Ted Saskin and Bill Daly go at each other doesn't it?

Russo (9:49 p.m. ET): A high-placed source told me that Brendan Shanahan just "dusted off" the Blues' Jamal Mayers.

Frei (9:50 p.m. ET): What a shocker. The sounds of silence in Phily. But there's always -- how'd that poll turn out? -- (Pat's/Geno's/Jim's) for a midnight snack. Oh, and I'll add this: When Jagr shows up, as he did tonight, he still can be the best in the business.

Russo (9:50 p.m. ET): That would be Geno's.

Miller (9:51 p.m. ET): As The Chief used to say, "Have a great hockey night, everyone!"

Russo (9:53 p.m. ET): Marty Brodeur gives the Devils a 5-1 win in Crosby's debut. Tough test for the Kid. Luongo shut out the Thrashers (Iron Mike, are you listening?).

Johnson (9:56 p.m. ET): This is, for a while at least, going to be a power play-driven league. Flames just messed up their fifth of six. But if the Wild keep up this rate of juvenile delinquency, Calgary can't help but get back into this thing.

Russo (9:59 p.m. ET): Well, we're going to wrap things up here and get ready for the late games. Gretzky's debut! Thanks for tuning in to the Live Blog. Check out ESPN.com's continued NHL coverage and watch Hockey Night on ESPNEWS every Thursday, featuring the great Barry Melrose. Be safe all ...