So the “new” NHL started last night, and I tuned in to have a boo. I watched the last half of the Ottawa-Toronto game after getting back from dinner with the Wednesday night crew, and the first period of the Phoenix-Vancouver game.
The “Battle of Ontario” reminded me a lot of the last NHL game I saw live. It was boring as hell until the last 5 minutes of the game, where the two teams combined for 3 goals. Passing and puck movement was god-awful, with the majority of play seeming to be flipping the puck back-and-forth between the blue lines. It could have been that the teams were on edge, but it was disappointing.
The officiating was pretty decent during regular time, with very few non-calls (and I still don’t get why, when a dive is called, there are offsetting minors). Unfortunately, overtime was the same-old, same-old. Two very blatant non-calls (one for each team), and they have to start calling this shit.
The shootout was anti-climactic, with Toronto’s shooters mis-firing twice. For once I agree with Pat Quinn – I hate to see the games decided this way, but everyone else seemed to like it.
The Vancouver game was much more entertaining. Like all West-coast games seem to be, the skating was wide open with end-to-end action being the MO. Curtis Joseph stood on his head (Clouthier was no slouch, either), and it was a much more entertaining game (although the lighting was so bad, I’m kind of wondering if GM Place has replaced the halogen TV lights with compact flourescents).
It was refreshing to see a lot less of the clutching and grabbing, muggings in front of the net, and goaltenders breaking up offensive drives risk-free. Not a bad start, although I’m still not convinced the officiating will stay on par for the whole season. We’ll see, but if overtime was any indication, the slope is slippery, and it’ll be very easy to fall back into old habits.
West Coast hockey still rules, and the sole East Coast game I saw was listless up until the last couple minutes. We’ll see how it goes.