With the NHL season finally getting under way Saturday, one of the most critical early factors will be conditioning. Who’ll be ready to hit the ground running on Day 1, and who’ll need some time to get back to his usual output level?
That doesn’t just apply to players — fans will also have to ease themselves back into regular-season shape. For example, the NHL is serving up 13 games Saturday. That’s just way too many for a typical fan who's still shaking off the lockout rust. Try paying attention to every one of them, and you’re going to tear a groin.
Pace yourselves, hockey fans. Here are five games to focus on during the NHL’s long-awaited opening day:
1. Claude Giroux: All Claude Everything
I am obligated by William Penn blood oath to award any Philly athlete the top spot in Rankonia, but Sarah Larimer really makes a compelling case for the Flyers forward: "Katie Baker is right. It is pretty much impossible to dislike Claude Giroux. Apologies to that Monet bro, but Giroux is now my favorite dude named Claude. Let's all start a Claude Giroux Fan Club. We can get T-shirts that say 'Are you taking this faceoff here?'
"'Before they even dropped the puck, he came over and he told me watch the first shift,' Danny Briere said after the Flyers' 5-1 win. 'When he did, I didn't know what to say to him. He's been our leader all year and once again he took another step in that direction today. It was simply amazing, plain and simple. He was possessed.'