A few thoughts before Game No. 4 of 82:
<li>I’m not sure why Nigel Dawes has looked out of synch through the early part of the season. Maybe it didn’t help that his center last night, Lauri Korpikoski, wasn’t particularly sharp, either. But for much of the home opener, Dawes was either a step off the puck or he couldn’t do much with it when he had it.
At least Dawes’ struggles makes Tom Renney’s job easier when trying to slide a new forward into the lineup (a sensible pick against a physical group like the Flyers would be a big body like Patrick Rissmiller). Should Renney go that route, a night off can only help Dawes, because he’s too good a player to keep playing the way he has.
<li>Let’s be clear that there is probably no tangible explanation for Stephen Valiquette’s success against the Flyers in particular last season. This isn’t baseball, after all. But there is something to be said for a goalie having a comfort level against certain jerseys and teams. That’s why my guess is Renney goes with Valiquette in net.
<li>What does 3-0 mean? It means six points, of course, and it also means a team has bought itself some capital with its fans. But just ask Wade Redden about what a fast start guarantees you in this league. There was no team better than his Ottawa Senators in the early part of last season. By the time the playoffs began and the Senators and stumbled in the back door, there was probably no team worse.
Update, 5:55 p.m.: All of the above turn out to be true. Rissmiller in for Dawes on the third line, Valiquette in for Lundqvist. Is Palin in for Santa Claus? First prize to the reader who can correctly guess what I’m talking about.
Update, 9:12 p.m.: And to think, all this time we thought Marek Malik was home in the Czech Republic sifting through offers from other NHL teams, when in fact he has resurfaced on the Rangers….in the form of Dmitri Kalinin.
Mind you, this is not to paint every Eastern European defenseman with a broad brush.
Just every Eastern European defenseman who makes fans want to tear their hair out…
Update, 9:44 p.m.: A 4-0 start to a hockey game is kind of like a 4-0 start to a season. You’re never going to turn it down, but it’s a tough pace to maintain.
Still, the Rangers found a way to hold on tonight, stealing the momentum back from the revived Flyers when they killed off an extended 5-on-3.
Not a perfect effort, but impressive nonetheless. And now it’s worth asking again: Outside of cutting some excess salary, is now really the time to be tinkering seriously with your roster?