Preseason games are right up there with chain letters and the Daytime Emmys on my must-do list. But before we head out to practice this morning for a brunch of warmed-over alibis, some quick observations (disclaimer: I didn't see all of this one, my wife insisting quite rightly on the latest episode of Rome, which sure beat the heck out of watching Jason Spezza skate rings around the home team):
First off, that message on the ice. Something about thanking Leafs fans. A nice sentiment. Nicer would be: cheaper tickets. Players shaking fans' hands as they come through the turnstiles. A run deep into the Cup playoffs. Hockey Night in Canada. I'm sure you can come up with some more suggestions.
Nice, too, was the flow to the game -- at least when they weren't calling penalties. Welcome to the new NHL. Look around this first weekend of make-believe games, and hey, everyone's wondering what's going on. After an 8-6 loss to the Flyers, Atlanta coach Bob Hartley sounded like Dr. Phil:
"I told them not to think about what they can't do, but try to figure out what you can do with the new ways of calling things."
And as Damien Cox notes, the Leafs are especially going to have to adapt, the faster Senators a little quicker study, at least off the evidence of this 5-2 Ottawa win.
Mark Zwolinski calls in this just out -- the Leafs' starting lineup for Tuesday night against Boston (thanks, Zorro):
Forwards: Eric Lindros, Matt Stajan, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen, John Pohl, Ben Ondrus, Steve Thomas, Mariusz Czerkawski, Jeremy Williams, Jeff O'Neill, Darcy Tucker, Nathan Perrott.
Defence: Wade Belak, Jay Harrison, Marc Moro, Alexander Khavanov, Thomas Kaberle, Andy Wozniewski
Goal: Ed Belfour, Jean-Francois Racine.
What does this mean? Not much, except that the preseason playing debut of Jason Allison is on hold, apparently because of that nagging hip flexor.
Elsewhere, the Capitals are finally welcoming Petr Sykora.
The Coyotes' opening-night goalie is already set.
The Blues have suspended Keith Tkachuk.
And in the Islanders camp, they're set to name a new captain.
Oh, and starting tomorrow we'll be changing it up slightly around here. I'll be starting up a new all-sports blog, while keeping an eye on this one. And I promise I'll try and post earlier in the day.