TORONTO - Some of the things we’ve noticed from the first couple of nights of the new schedule:
-- Playing his first game in the NHL in three years, Flyers’ Jaromir Jagr drew an assist (for his 1,600th NHL point) but was otherwise not a factor. He managed two shots playing on the top line with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk, then admitted the flow of the game has changed since he bolted for the KHL in 2008. “I think there is less structure now,” he said in a report by Bruins blogger Ty Anderson. “It’s nobody really stopping. Keep skating, keep skating, I think that’s the biggest difference from what it was before. I have to get used to it.” The prime concern with the long-time Pens superstar is how long his 39-year-old body can deal with front-line minutes and rigours.
-- Ryan Callahan was everywhere in the Rangers’ opening loss to the Kings at Stockholm on Friday, pouring 11 shots on goal. The fifth-year winger has averaged 2.6 shots per game in his career.
-- Winger Erik Cole, the Canadiens big off-season addition, played Thursday night on the third line with David Desharnais and Mathieu Darche, getting only 64 seconds of power-play time. While his owners must be scratching their heads at that one, we don’t see it as being permanent. Cole was signed to ride shotgun with the Habs’ under-sized top six forwards and should wind up there sooner rather than later, likely replacing either Andrei Kostitsyn or Max Pacioretty. The fact that the Habs came up empty against the Leafs in their opener only solidifies that notion.
-- Unless you were desperate on draft night, you stayed away from anyone wearing goalie pads on the Islanders or Oilers. The Isles still have Evgeni Nabokov, Rick DiPietro and Al Montoya around while the Oilers’ expected transition from Nikolai Khabibulin to Devan Dubnyk hasn’t yet kicked in. Neither side, meanwhile, appears to be in any hurry to designate a No. 1 guy, which is probably a good thing as any of those five goalies would wind up being a drag on GAA and save percentage if given extended playing time. Forced to take one, we’d go with Nabokov, who could wind up being traded to a contending team.
-- The Blue Jackets’ new top line of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and Vinny Prospal combined for 10 shots (six by Carter) on Friday against the Preds. As the first two love to shoot, expect more of the same in the future, though we’re sticking to our belief that one of them will wind up on a second line at some point.
-- After a strong pre-season together, newcomer Ian White gets Nicklas Lidstrom as his defence partner in Detroit. That can only help his fantasy stock. Both scored in the Wings’ opening win Friday.
-- No points, but Ducks’ exciting, young D Cam Fowler came out even on the plus-minus ledger despite a 4-1 loss to the Sabres. Fowler’s minus-25 as a rookie pushed down his draft value.
Keith Yandle’s month-by-month point production last season was a nearly perfect bell curve — 4, 8, 15, 17, 10, 4 — from October through to March. With the ’Yotes life and death (literally) to make the playoffs in the final month and keep the franchise in Phoenix, the coaching staff attempted to shorten his leash and had him limit his forays deep into the offensive zone.
With fantasy rating out of five
Luke Adam, C, Sabres
* * *
Ignored in all but the deepest pools, second-rounder in 2008 found himself as a top six forward in the Sabres’ two European games, supplanting Leino, centring Vanek and Pominville and producing two goals and two assists. Great gig as long he can keep it.
Adam Larsson, D, Devils
* * *
The Devs expected their fourth overall pick in June to one day run the power-play, but not this soon. And unless he is overmatched at even strength, he’ll be teeing it up for Kovalchuk one-timers while playing 20 minutes a night.
Cam Atkinson, RW, Blue Jackets
Hobey Baker finalist after back-to-back 30-goal seasons at Boston College, he’s getting an early shot at a top-six job, playing with Vermette and Umberger.
Ryan Murphy, D, Hurricanes
The Canes are loaded with offensive D-men — though perhaps not as skilled as this 18-year-old should be in future years — so he could be a candidate to return to the OHL before 10 games. But if you can grab him now in keeper leagues, do it.
Jacob Markstrom, G, Panthers
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Another nice speculative pickup, Florida’s goalie of the future begins the season as Jose Theodore’s backup with Scott Clemmensen on the shelf.
Feared to be out until early November following hip surgery, Ryan Kesler is practising already and could be ready to make his season debut in a couple of weeks … With almost a week between their first and second games, the Sharks went without Martin Havlat (shoulder) and Antti Niemi (cyst) for Saturday’s opener ... Hopes that Brendan Morrison (knee) could start the season have been dashed. No timetable, either, from the Flames … Ryan Whitney (ankle) is expected to be ready for Sunday’s Oilers opener … Mike Santorelli (shoulder) is still a few weeks away … Don’t count on Andrei Markov back on the Canadiens blue line any time soon … New Habs defenceman Chris Campoli, meanwhile, is out until likely December after injuring his leg in the opener at Toronto ... Jochen Hecht (concussion) suffered a mild setback and missed the Sabres’ first two games.
HOT AND NOT
Opening game notables
Milan Michalek, OTT, 2 goals, 6 shots, plus-1
Drew Miller, DET, 2 assists, plus-2
Brandon Dubinsky, NYR, 1 assist, 10 PIM
Matt Cooke, PIT, 2 goals, plus-1, 0 PIM
- - -
Daniel Alfredsson, OTT, Minus-3, 1 assist
Eric Staal, CAR, 0 points, minus-2
GAMES THIS WEEK
4 COL, MIN, STL, VAN
2 ANA, BUF, CHI, DET, FLA, LA, MON, PHIL, SJ, WPG
1 NYR, TOR