Sunday, January 20, 2013

Veterans Shine Early, Can They Keep This Speed

Hockey fans across the world have had their prayers answered. The NHL season is just a day old, but already has a slew of story lines grabbing everyone's attention. The league's older players are group that is grabbing most of those headlines after one day of play.

A shortened season will benefit and hinder different players and teams in different ways. Some players have had more time to recover and were able to start on their team's opening night roster, a scenario that would not have been possible had the season started back in October. Others say it will benefit older players that may not be as equipped for the long haul of an 82-game season.

In the season's opening night, it did not seem like the NHL's old dogs have lost much in their step as some turned out dominant performances.

There were 74 goals scored over the course of the season's first night. Of those goals, five were put in the back of the net by a player that was 35-years-old or older. That same age group racked up 11 assists, totaling a point output of 16, in one night of play.

Most notable out of that group is 42-year-old, Teemu Selanne, who netted two goals and added two helpers, 40-year-old, Jaromir Jagr who scored two goals and assisted on two as well and 39-year-old, Alex Kovalev, who lit the lamp once and recorded two assists.

Other players who are 35 or older that recorded points were Martin St. Louis, Sheldon Souray, Stephane Robidas and Andy McDonald.

Of course, it is a long season, even an abbreviated version, and you can take a player's performance in the first game of the season with a grain of salt. But, along with old age comes wisdom and the experience of game day preparation and training, which could go a long way in a shortened season.

An older player likely already has a routine established that makes them comfortable and ready night in and night out. This may not be the case with the league's younger talent that still needs to find themselves.

Only time will tell whether or not this burst of energy was a one time thing, or the first of a productive and offensive season for the grey beards of the NHL.

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