Four things we learned in the NHL: Blues spoil Penguins’ party

Watch as the Pittsburgh Penguins raise their 2017 championship banner before their first game of the season.

The beaches are closed, the cottages are clean and the leaves are turning orange.

That could mean only one thing. It’s hockey season once again!

Four games kicked off the 2017-18 race to the Stanley Cup. In honour of that, here are four things we learned from opening night in the NHL.

Maple Leafs, not Jets, caught in penalty trouble

A key reason the Winnipeg Jets missed the playoffs last year was that they were undisciplined and had a bad penalty kill. Things were so bad in fact that head coach Paul Maurice invited retired referee Paul Devorski to camp to explain to the players what officials are looking for.

Maybe the Maple Leafs should have called him, too.

Toronto opened the season with three penalties in the first 12 minutes, and finished the night with eight minor infractions.

That included a bizarre one given to Leo Komarov for how he wears his visor. He was warned in the pre-season that this would happen and the referees made sure to show that they weren’t kidding around.

Unfortunately for Winnipeg, the Maple Leafs killed their penalties and followed that up with a power-play goal late in the first.

Some things never change.

Mason doesn’t complete Jets debut

The other reason the Jets missed the playoffs last season was poor goaltending, so the team signed free agent Steve Mason to bring some stability to the position.

So far, he’s done the opposite.

Mason was yanked from the season opener less than a minute into the third period after the Maple Leafs scored their fifth goal on only their 20th shot against him. Connor Hellebuyck was brought in to stop bleeding and gave up two goals, leaving the Jets right where they left off in April.

But it’s hard to argue that the Jets didn’t get their chances. The Maple Leafs gave them eight power plays, which they failed to capitalize on, and the Jets actually outshot Toronto 35-31.

After the game, Patrik Laine said the whole night was “just embarrassing.”

Based on how the Jets played, it’s hard to argue with him.

Pietrangelo helps Blues spoil Penguins’ party

The Pittsburgh Penguins unveiled their 2017 Stanley Cup banner on Wednesday and then were humbled with an OT loss to the St. Louis Blues.

You can watch the whole ceremony at the top of this page.

Alex Pietrangelo was the OT hero with his second of the night only 75 seconds into the extra frame. The Blues captain set a career high with 14 goals last season and this year he looks to be showing once again why he’s one of the more underrated defencemen in the NHL.

The Penguins salvaging a point continues a trend for the team. They’ve picked up at least one point in all five games in which they’ve raised a Stanley Cup banner, including three wins and a tie before Wednesday night.

The Penguins won’t have much time to bounce back after the loss. They’ll be flying to Chicago Wednesday night for a meeting with the Blackhawks on Thursday.

McDavid continues to haunt Flames

It didn’t take long for Connor McDavid to continue his dominance of the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers 20-year-old captain opened the scoring for his team 11 minutes into the first period, burying a rebound from a Leon Draisaitl shot.

He scored a beautiful goal to give the Oilers some breathing room in the third and added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick. The goals show that McDavid isn’t slowing down after being the only 100-point player in the NHL.

McDavid continues to dominate the battle of Alberta. The Oilers are now 7-1 against the Flames with McDavid in the lineup. And the reigning Hart Trophy winner has been very involved in those wins.

The Flames are going to have to find a way to slow him down if they want to have any chance in the Pacific Division over the next nine years.

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