The Avalanche used to be a pretty boring outfit. Under Joe Sacco, these guys won a game here and there and largely minded their own business.
Life under the mercurial Patrick Roy is much, much different. Roy’s NHL coaching debut ended with a WWE-like exchange with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, an outburst that earned him a $10,000 fine from the NHL.
Game 2 was highlighted by Steve Downie’s big run at Predators defenseman Roman Josi. That crushing hit pleased the crowd in Denver but left the Predators most displeased.
“I take issue with that. He’s one of those players who looks for the crowd to cheer him on or something like that,” Nashville center Paul Gaustad told the Tennessean. “It was a dumb hit and we know who did it. We play these guys several times this year.”
Naturally, Roy saw it differently.
“That was a great hit I thought,” Roy told reporters afterward. “I don't know, I need to re-look at it, but I thought it was a fair check.”
The NHL will re-look at it, too, and Downie can expect to do some hard time for it. He is what Brendan Shanahan would call “a repeat offender.”
“We’re trying to get all that out of the game, launching yourself with the head shots and stuff like that,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We’re trying to get that out of the league.”
Here is what elsewhere we learned from Friday night’s hockey:
Craig Anderson is still an elite goaltender. He played brilliantly for an injury-riddled Senators team last season. Now that Ottawa is up to full strength, he could win a LOT of games. His 1-0 victory over Buffalo and Ryan Miller sent that message.
The Hurricanes miss Joni Pitkanen. They had a 2-0 lead over Detroit, but the swarming Red Wings backed the Carolina defense into goaltender Cam Ward and kept firing away. They forced OT with a last second goal and then scored the inevitable game-winner. Carolina also misses the old Southeast Division.
Winnipeg has some firepower. Led by Evander Kane (goal, two assists), the Jets shot down the Kings 5-3. Newcomer Devin Setoguchi is getting every chance to become offensively relevant again. This team will bring more entertainment to the reconfigured Western Conference than, say, the punchless Predators.
Pekka Rinne needs a hand. Speaking of Nashville, it’s not too early to fret about that team’s offense. That mobile young defensive corps will be something as it matures, but how far can that team go without a 50-assist center or a 30-goal scorer? Maybe the Blues can score by committee, but the Blues have a much better committee.
FROM THE TWITTERVERSE
Joe Yerndon, Pro Hockey Talk: “I don't like that hit from Downie tonight one bit. No, sir.”
Dan Rosen, NHL.com: “Isles' Matt Moulson on shootout winner tonight: ‘To help out that way is good because I didn't help out too much in the game.’”
Chris Johnston, SportsNet: “Nice goalie battle in Buffalo tonight between Ryan Miller and Craig Anderson -- two U.S. Olympic hopefuls.”
James Mirtle, Globe and Mail: “I'm thinking Olli Jokinen is going to have a much, much better season offensively than last year.”
Chris Johnston, SportsNet: “Nathan MacKinnon picks up his third assist in just his fourth NHL period. Good start for the No. 1 overall pick.”