Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Hockey is back!

Great news, everyone! The hockey season starts TOMORROW! The Canes are facing off against the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland.

But, if you were lucky enough to watch it, some overseas hockey has already occurred. The Canes took on the KHL team SKA St. Petersburg, losing 5-3 in their final preseason game.

My thoughts? Absolutely amazingly awesome. Probably because I was watching Canes hockey after several long months without it (The withdrawal symptoms were getting pretty tough, man). Also, what equated to a 11:30 EST start time made for a very nice lunch break - although, again, since it was the first hockey I've seen since June (even longer than that for Canes hockey) I probably would have been this excited if the game was played at 4 o'clock in the morning.

So I was a little caught up in the "first hockey of the season" moment to actually notice a lot about the game itself. It also probably didn't help that the announcing was in Russian and whenever I switched tabs to tweet, SKA seemed to score. But from what I could tell:

- Defense didn't look great on a few goals. Par for the course.
- Jeff Skinner is the man, looking excellent on the goal that he scored. And, yes, like everyone else I couldn't believe they drafted this dude. I'd supply a link to that particular opinion but I'm feeling a little lazy right now. But, obviously Skinner is proving everyone who was skeptical wrong with goals like that. (Will the Canes keep him? Another story entirely.)
- Yup, the Russians were going after players knees. Pretty blatant knee-to-knee contact on Eric Staal. Not good, but you know what I liked about this episode? Our players stood up for Staal, both Jay Harrison and Tim Gleason. Oftentimes it seems like people take shots at our star players and there's never any repercussion. Hopefully this represents a new mindset in our team.

I wasn't disappointed in this game at all. There seemed to be a lot of jump in our team, definitely opposite to some of the horrible games we suffered through last year. A little tough to get a good read off of our season-readiness due to the fact that we weren't playing an NHL team (although it did have a few NHL castoffs - Alexei Yashin and Evgeni Nabokov to name a few), and also because Eric Staal won't get yanked from a normal game for safety reasons.

And if I may digress from the Canes for a brief point: I hate how this game got no publicity in the US. It seemed as if the Russian media was spinning it as a Russia against USA game, why weren't we doing the same? Yes, many of the Canes players are not from the USA, or even North America, but I would think that after the success of the Olympic games any correlation between nationalities would be played up a bit. Of course, it probably doesn't help that it's a preseason game, but I would still have expected a tad more hype. Then again, maybe I'm watching too much morbidly-detailed NFL coverage (Breaking news! Brett Favre may or may not be coming back next year!).

Back to the Canes: Are we season ready? Well, we better be - our first game is set to have the puck drop tomorrow at high noon EST, kicking off both our season and the NHL season. Hockey is back!

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