Game One: The Hangover

Ed. Note- A good friend of mine is currently living abroad in China, and asked if I was going to do a recap type of deal for last night's game so he could read it and have a greater sense of the game despite not being able to really view it. So, in an effort to make that happen, I (or Nate, or whoever) will try our damndest to do one of these posts after every game; not so much for a recap, but to relay some thoughts or observations of each game. 

(Getty)

I'll begin this by saying this; I've been amazed at just how much media coverage the market has given The Wild since the Lockout ceased; for an area which The Vikings DOMINATE the coverage, pretty much year round, it was almost instantaneously over- like a switch flipped once the football season was over. There was seemingly a news story every night, newspaper coverage ramped up (including including by such noted puck guys like Jim Souhan and Pat Reusse), and even #1 Vikings bobo Paul Allen stopped tweaking his nipples to his Adrian Peterson Fathead poster in order to join in on the mania.

Its just crazy. Now the season has begun.
Game One Recap

Thoughts/Musings:

- Just taking a look at the Shot Summary for the game, and one number sticks out to me specifically- Zach Parise took 8 shots, 5 of them at even strength. I think that's huge for a team that was consistently outshot last year (yes, I'm referring to the ensuing Metrics-Gate kerfuffle) but Parise's mindset should be contagious- he was shooting from the slot, from the crease, and even from low-percentage areas like, oh, behind the goal line. As the adage goes, you don't score if you don't shoot, and if you do shoot, you can create chances. That said, there were still times where there was too much passing up on shots, especially on the PP.
- I said this to a friend last night, but Parise's work ethic is just outstanding. I do, however have a concern about just how he will hold up durability wise down the road when he goes into corners and scrums with reckless abandon. I get it, that's how he plays and that's what makes him so good, but I wonder if there will come a point where we all hold our breaths a little as #11 goes barreling into the corners.
- They had their rough patches defensively, but I like what Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon showed at times last night. Spurgeon, specifically, was much more involved offensively than in recent memory, and it will be interesting to see what sort of step he takes this year, and whether it is because of a spike in his development, or a result of playing with an all-star quality player like Suter (27 minutes last night btw.)
- Who didn't feel good for Pierre-Marc Bouchard last night, scoring a goal? Dude hadn't seen ice time in an NHL game in over a year, and scores a game-sealing goal. Also, good awareness from Cal Clutterbuck to lift his leg up to open a shooting lane for PMB.
- Also, this guy scored his first NHL goal last night, despite the look on his face shortly after.
(Courtesy of @cjzero)

Overall it was a solid debut for Mikael Granlund, goal aside. There is no doubt there will be some adjustment, the question is just how much time will it take before the "car clunks into gear."
- There's concern over blueline depth, but to me I think it comes down to Niklas Backstrom, who, in theory, should be motivated as hell in what will be a contract year. There's going to be defensive breakdowns like last night, so he has to be sharp- and for a goalie who primarily relies on great positioning, having to react and deviate from that may cause some trouble.
- Finally, this- Minnesota has won their home opener a number of years in a row, and when Colorado hands you copious PP time with the skill you have, you have to win. Now they did, but there were portions of the game where The Avs had them on their heels. It is now a sprint, as opposed to a marathon- so its a matter of taking advantage of those special teams opportunities is tantamount, but this team has to create goals at even strength too.

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