Ahhhh... The first day of the season, so filled with hopes and dreams, just waiting to be crushed. Oh, wait we're supposed to be positive now, I guess I mean fulfilled. Anyway, let's take a look at the Ducks' opening night matchup against Colorado.
Keys to the Game: The Ducks and Avalanche are in a similar position, in that both teams' most glaring weakness is on defense this season. Last season Tyson Barrie and Matt Hunwick led Avs defensemen in Time On Ice. According to this article on the Avalanche official site, Hunwick is now fighting for a roster spot with, former Ducks great, Nate Guenin and Nick Holden who's played a total of seven NHL games (all with the Blue Jackets), presumably due to the off season addition of Cory Sarich from Calgary. Do any of those names inspire confidence in you? Me neither.
Of course, with the glass house of Francois Beauchemin still recovering from ACL surgery, Sheldon Souray out until December/January, Luca Sbisa on IR as well as possibly having Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm in the lineup, not to mention Bryan Allen being .... Bryan Allen, we shouldn't be throwing stones.
Up front, the Avs have quite the stable of young skilled forwards from Matt Duchene to Gabriel Landeskog and the first overall pick in this year's draft, Nathan MacKinnon. They can come at you in waves and the speed, especially of Duchene and MacKinnon could prove quite the test depending on how Beauch's knee is and how Bryan Allen-ish Bryan Allen is.
In goal, however, I think the Ducks clearly have the edge, regardless of what combination of Viktor Fast or Jonas Hiller versus Semyon Varlamov or our beloved J.S. Giguere we end up seeing.
What Can We Learn From this Game: It's the first game of the season! What can't we learn from it? Will Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry live up to their monster contracts? Can they rekindle the fire with Dustin Penner? (that seems unlikely, but let's move on) What does Teemu Selanne have in those 43-year-old legs of his? Was Viktor Fasth just a flash in the pan last year? Is this the year we see break outs from Peter Holland? Devante Smith-Pelly? Patrick Maroon? Emerson Etem? Sami Vatanen? Can any/all of those guys make up for the loss of Bobby Ryan? Can an NHL team succeed with a defense held together with scotch tape, twigs and possibly two rookies? SO MANY QUESTIONS yet to be answered.
But let's not over react to one game. What are we Arsenal fans? (Hey-ooooo, soccer joke!) Obviously we won't know the answer to all of these things tonight. Apart from seeing how the defense holds up, I think the most interesting question to be answered tonight is what the acquisition of Mathieu Perreault means for Nick Bonino and Peter Holland.
At the onset of training camp the second line center role seemed to be Bonino's to lose, based on his performance down the stretch and in the playoffs last year. Despite, never having played top six minutes in Washington, Perreault practiced between Teemu and Jakob Silfverberg yesterday. Is this starting to almost resemble something like center depth?
Side note: According to Eric Stephens, Silfverberg claimed he would "definitely" be ready for tonight's game. If he does play someone will have to be sent down. The smart money is probably on Holland or Smith-Pelly, as both are on the final year of their 2-way Entry Level Contracts.
Fearless Prediction: Patrick Roy misses his first game as Avs Head Coach while trying to get two Stanley Cup Rings out of his ears.
Stay tuned to this story stream for potential updates throughout the day, and a stats pack accompanying the official GameThread, shortly before puck drop.