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Friday Daily Puck: The Debut of McEichel

Jason Chen

Consistently fires muffins. Blue Line Buzz on Mondays, Daily Puck and DFS on Sundays.

I get Montreal-Toronto. I get Vancouver-Calgary. I get Rangers-Blackhawks as an Original Six matchup. I even get Nashville-Carolina, which I call the Condiment Showdown. But Dallas-Pittsburgh and Winnipeg-Boston? I thought season openers were supposed to drum up some excitement by having teams start off with a bang against a hated rival. What possible gripe could the Pens possibly have with a team from Texas?

Speaking of the Pens, they opened their season with a whimper in a shutout loss to the Stars. The Pens’ vaunted offense won’t be blanked too many times this season, but poor starts can be costly. Antti Niemi had two assists, Ales Hemsky had two points, and Phil Kessel and Kris Letang fired 14 shots on goal but had nothing to show for it. Not taking anything away from the playoff-bound Stars, but, yeah, that game was kind of a fluke.

In Colorado, the Avs sleepwalked through a third period that saw them blow a 4-1 lead and lose 4-5 to the Wild, thanks to Zach Parise’s hat trick. As talented as the Avs may be, they’re still a team with consistency issues and quite a few holes. Heck, Nick Holden led the team in ice time with 22:34, while the talented but notoriously streaky Nikita Zadorov was one of three players over 20 minutes. Mikko Rantanen, one of the few overlooked 2015 draftees who made the Opening Night rosters, played just 7:24. I mean, we’re not gonna write Patrick Roy off just yet, right? There’s a whole season of red-faced Roy GIFs waiting to happen. Check out this sneak peak:







And that’s just one game! Anyway, scheduling gripes and Roy GIFs aside, both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel made their NHL debuts last night. This probably should come as no surprise, but both the Oilers and Sabres lost. Eichel fared better, however, scoring his first NHL goal on the power play. McDavid, on the other hand, was held without a point, though both players were featured prominently, with Eichel’s 21:12 TOI tying Evander Kane for the most ice time among Buffalo forwards and McDavid logging 18:07, second only to Taylor Hall’s 18:43 and a shade more than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 17:44.

As the two top picks of the 2015 NHL Draft, both are tasked with the burden of carrying their respective franchises to Stanley Cup glory, and they’ll never escape the comparisons to each other, just like Sid vs. Ovi. But, boy, will the two new kids be fun to watch. McDavid was a blur on the ice and he can definitely rack up the points in a hurry. Then there’s Eichel, who showed a sniper’s patience on his first goal. And huge bonus points to Buffalo for an awesome goal song. Check it out:




Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider*), 7:00 PM
New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist*) at Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier*) at Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard*), 7:30 PM
Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at New York Islanders (Thomas Greiss), 7:30 PM
Arizona Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Friday

Winnipeg Jets
Grant Clitsome, D – (back) failed his physical and is out for the season.

New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias, LW – (knee) placed on injured reserve and not expected to play.

New York Rangers
None.

Columbus Blue Jackets
David Clarkson, RW – (lower body) considered day-to-day; will not play.
Josh Anderson, RW – (orbital fracture) out four weeks.
Daniel Zaar, RW (undisclosed) – considered day-to-day; not expected to play.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Petter Granberg, D – (Achilles) did not play Wednesday; not expected to play.
Stephane Robidas, D – (groin) did not play Wednesday ; not expected to play.

Detroit Red Wings
Darren Helm, LW – (shoulder) will dress next week.
Danny DeKeyser, D – (left foot ligament sprain) out four weeks.
Pavel Datsyuk, C – (ankle) placed on injured reserve; not expected to play.

Chicago Blackhawks
Michal Rozsival, D – (lower body) placed on LTIR, will miss at least 10 games.

New York Islanders
Thomas Hickey, D – (upper body) placed on injured reserve; not expected to play.
Jaroslav Halak, G – (upper body) “doubtful” to return this week; not expected to play.

Arizona Coyotes
None.

Los Angeles Kings
Dwight King, LW – (lower body) placed on injured reserve; not expected to play.

Hot
Kyle Turris, C, Senators – He’s found new life in Ottawa and should now be considered a 20-goal, two-way threat. He had a career-high 64 points last year and kicked off the season with two goals against the Sabres last night. He’s playing on Ottawa’s de facto top line with Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone, two other snipers who can help Turris get some assists. He went undrafted in most leagues but is getting picked up in a hurry. Fly, you fools!

Antti Niemi, G, Stars – He’s so good, he shut out a vaunted Pens offense in his season debut and scored two assists! He’s a two-way threat! Jokes aside, the Stars may publicly be committed to a timeshare in net, but if Niemi continues to shine, he’ll get the nod more than Kari Lehtonen. In all honesty, Niemi is probably the stronger goalie and would be my bet to finish the season as the Stars’ No. 1 ‘tender.

Cold
Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins – The Bruins defense didn’t help him out much, but it was a disastrous debut for Don Sweeney’s new-look squad. Rask allowed five goals on 30 shots for a .839 save percentage, and this is the first time he’s lost his season debut since the 2011-12 season.

Matt Duchene, C, Avalanche – You can’t ever write this guy off, but a minus-3 rating isn’t a good start for one of the best young players in the game. As much as the Avs rely on Nathan MacKinnon’s scoring and Gabriel Landeskog’s leadership, they also rely on Duchene’s speed and two-way play. He also coughed up the puck twice and managed just two shots in their 5-4 loss to Minnesota.

Connor McDavid, C, Oilers – Total bust. What were the Oilers thinking?! Not only did McDavid fail to register a point in his NHL debut, he totally didn’t deliver the Cup, either… What, you guys can’t take a joke? McDavid logged 18:07 and registered just two shots in a 3-1 loss against a very strong Blues team, but both shots certainly showed off his skill, with one shot coming off the rush and another off a nifty backhand. McDavid sounded a little choked after the loss and will no doubt bounce back with an even stronger effort on Saturday.

Recommended Pickup
Dylan Larkin, C/RW, Red Wings – He made the Opening Night roster at just 19 years old. This never happens on the Red Wings. The Michigan native spent just one year with the Wolverines, where he scored 47 points in 35 games and will now make his NHL debut playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader on the top line. If you’re looking for someone who might as have as much upside as McDavid or Eichel this season, Larkin’s a decent bet. He’s only owned in roughly 10 percent of ESPN leagues.
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