NHL Pucks Drop: Sharks Actually Did What Sharks Do
A tap of the stick to those coy programmers at NBC Sports for nudging the NHL to open its season with four dagger games on its successful midweek Rivalry Night series.
Three of those tilts were close.
The other one was apparently arranged to be a gut check.
And no, not this one, but give the dude full marks for not missing a beat:
The True North should rest easy, knowing he's standing guard for thee.
Meanwhile, Opening Night action around the league didn't disappoint:
- The Toronto Maple Leafs began their campaign in Leafly fashion, dropping a 4-3 decision to Montréal on a Tomáš Plekanec goal with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.
- The Vancouver Canucks look relieved to be free of John Tortarella's robotic shackles, as Calgary can attest.
- The Boston Bruins went toe-to-toe with Philadelphia -- as if those two could play any other way -- right down to Chris Kelly's strike with 1:51 left to earn a 2-1 triumph.
And then there were the San José Sharks, travelling south to confront their kryptonite, the team they led 3-0 in last year's playoffs and collapsed so miserably that Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau had letters stripped from their sweaters.
The Los Angeles Kings had prepared flamboyant opening ceremonies to recognize what they had so richly earned:
And they couldn't resist adding an element that would've put a tear in Vince McMahon's eye.
The pointed tone of play-by-play man Bob Miller's comments almost made fans forget the Kings beat the New York Rangers to hoist the hardware and not the Sharks.
The Sharks had no choice but to stand there and take it. In fact, it seemed the only indignity the Stanley Cup champs missed was kidnapping the San José players' pets, herding them into the rink, and beating them to death with their sticks.
So if anyone wanted to shut up a crowd and shut out an opponent, they were skating in white sweaters at Staples Center last night.
One game does not a season make, and San José has much to do if they expect to shake the visage that they're Maple Leafs West, but this result oughta cover their quest for revenge until Sat 27 Dec when they next meet the Kings.
That won't be an NBC Sports' Rivalry Night. But it will be rivalry night.