Opening night reviews are in. And in movies as in hockey, it's the same notes being pounded over and over. A few blurbs:
"The Leafs put up numbers before the game but couldn't do it on the ice." Paul Hunter
|Briere: Lovely finish.|
"Mats, poor Mats. On pace for an 82-goal season. Unfortunately, so is his team." Rosie DiManno
"The Mats Sundin-needs-a-winger crowd was silent until the first three minutes or so." Bruce Arthur
"How many times am I going to hear "who's going to score on this team?" before I start clenching my jaw and talking back to the little voices in my head. I get it. We all get it." Bitter Leaf Fan
You get the idea. The preseason book on the Leafs - other than Sundin, where are the goals going to come from? - was the pounding. And to think, only 81 more nights of this. Bring on the NBA, please. If there's one thing I like better than watered-down leagues and overhyped teams, it's lots of it.
Thanks to the Centre Ice package, there was heavy PiP action between Leafs-Sens and Sabres-'Canes at the JABS Grotto. Here's what the Sabres did that the Leafs didn't/couldn't do: surprise the goalie, in this case Cam Ward. Two goals on redirected shots, and a lovely finish from Daniel Briere - deke to backhand, top shelf - for the shootout winner. It's not exactly fitting to compare the "Work in Progress" Leafs with the Cup-contending Sabres and yes, Martin Gerber was good for Ottawa, but as Dave Shoalts noted in the Globe, they did make it awfully easy for him at times: too many pucks "obligingly fired ... into Gerber's stomach."
Bigger story this morning is Jim Balsillie buying the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is the same fellow, recall, who recently put out $50,000 to extend exclusive rights to NHL hockey at the Copps Coliseum.
Question of the day: A new name, for if (when?) the Pens move (just don't count on Hamilton being the destination). Penguins in Motion, say.