Good morning everyone!
First off, a very special happy birthday to the most magnificent hockey player of all time. Other adjectives can belong to other players, but this one is indisputably Mario's. Also, did you know that Patrick Roy was born on the exact same day (and year) as Mario? They must have been putting something special in the water in those parts of Quebec. Also happy birthday to my husband - the clever way to never forget your significant other's birthday is to pick a guy born on the same day as your biggest idol in life.
The season is still young, but some things are becoming clearer. Sid the Kid is almost old now, a wily veteran entering his 9th season. The league's new wave is here, with teenagers like Aleksander Barkov and Jacob Trouba emerging alongside superstar in the making Nathan MacKinnon.
In his first NHL game, Barkov, the young Finnish forward who surprised many when he was picked at the #2 spot ahead of the highly touted Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones, became the youngest NHL goal scorer in almost 70 years. Barkov is poised, mature and smart with the puck. It takes a lot of confidence to pass on Drouin and Jones, but the Panthers scouts saw something in him that the rest of the league is discovering as well.
And don't look now, but the Winnipeg Jets are 2-0 and the play of defenseman Jacob Trouba is one of the main reasons why. He averaged almost 23' TOI in his first two games and has 1G 1A with +3 rating. Only those who didn't watch the Michigan blueliner light up the WJC in Ufa on the way to the gold medal last winter are surprised. Another Jets rookie who's also making people notice his good play is #2 center Mark Scheifele.
The Pens play the Buffalo Sabres tonight. After only two games, the Sabres are 0-2 and already at the bottom of the Atlantic. Their only goal in the first two games was scored by their best young player, center Zemgus Girgensons, so let's get to know him. He is the highest-drafted player ever from Latvia, drafted 14th overall in 2012. He comes from a hockey family and his dad Aldis Girgensons was a defenseman for Dinamo Riga. He scored in his first-ever NHL game on Wednesday against Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings. I'd say there are worse ways to enter the league.
Another thing to watch out for is the goalie situation in Buffalo. Last night the Sabres lost a closely contested game against the Senators, in which Ryan Miller's amazing effort was overshadowed by Craig Anderson's shutout. After the game, literally in the middle of the night, the Sabres recalled goaltender Matt Hackett and defenseman Alexander Sulzers from the Rochester Americans. Hackett had an awful showing with the Amerks, also last night, and got pulled after allowing 6 goals in less than two periods, but has already joined the Sabres in Pittsburgh. Everybody is speculating this morning on what this means: is there an injury to Ryan Miller or is there a trade coming? Stay tuned for updates.
Enjoy your Saturday. Let's go Pens!
Here is an update from Buffalo's camp: Ryan Miller did not participate in the morning skate in Pittsburgh, while Hackett was on the ice.