Thing #1: Yanni Gourde looked like Yanni Gourde
One of the big questions for me heading into this season was how Gourde would respond to heightened expectations after a 25-goal, 64-point year in 2017-18. While he didn't score last night, and likely won't shoot at 18%+++ again this year, Gourde looked like the Gourde we've all come to know and love.
He was tenacious, he was a beast on the forecheck, and he was one of a few Lightning players who was able to "take it" to the Panthers at five-on-five. The great thing about a player who can do those things is that there's always going to be room for him in the lineup, even when he's not scoring.
With a $1M cap hit, Gourde has to be considered one of the better bargains in the National Hockey League. It was great to see him pick up exactly where he left off last year.
Thing #2: Andrei Vasilevskiy earned the win
The Lightning left Vasilevskiy out to dry last night, to put it lightly. He made 42 saves on 43 shots through regulation and overtime. His performance left me with mixed emotions. On the one hand, it's pretty great that the Bolts have a goaltender who can be relied on to steal a game like that; on the other, though, this seems to be happening far too often:
This is definitely something to watch as the Lightning continue through their first few weeks of the season. Expectations are too high on this squad to have games like that become a regular occurrence. Vasilevskiy can't be counted on to allow one goal on 40-plus shots every night. It's not fair. It's not sustainable. Raw talent masks process issues on many nights during the regular season, but it doesn't tend to be enough to take a seven-game series last in the postseason.Nights like this one, in which raw talent at one position or another (in tonight's case, G) masks a horrendous process, have become far too common for TB over the last couple years.— Michael Stuart (@MikeStuartTLL) October 7, 2018
Thing #3: Gary Sanchez hit a bomb
Listen, it's way too early in the hockey season to draw big conclusions or start weaving together narratives. Until the sample size is a little bit bigger, keeping one eye on baseball makes a lot of sense. You might even get a chance to see something like this:
It cleared Fenway. Like, what?Gary Sanchez with the longest home run ever hit at Fenway since we became a sportsbook😲#MLBPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/Ie1hgwfHCV— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 7, 2018
As always, thanks for reading!