When it comes to professional sports, there is nothing like a home opener.
The team is prepared and ready to go. The coaching staff has their roster in place and the fans are pumped to watch their favourite team do what they can to win a championship.
This is especially the case in the NHL.
There have been several terrific performances from home team players in their regular season home opener.
Let’s take a look at some memorable home opener performances over the past 25 years or so.
Maple Leafs’ legend Wendel Clark Racks up five points in vs. Detroit Red Wings
When it comes to home openers, no one really expects terrific performances considering that the teams are just getting into game shape and trying to feel the rest of the league out.
This was not the case for Wendel Clark.
In Clark’s first home game as Leafs’ captain at Maple Leaf Gardens on Oct. 5, 1991, he notched a hat trick plus two assists for five points against the Detroit Red Wings.
In the team’s first game of the regular season, Clark picked up three points against the Montreal Canadiens. After two regular season games, the Leafs’ captain had eight points.
Chris Drury has three points for Rangers’ vs. Florida Panthers in 2007
Prior to the 2007-08 season, the New York Rangers made the biggest splash of the off-season by signing the top two free agents on the market in Scott Gomez and Chris Drury.
Drury made his presence felt on Broadway in the team’s home opener against the Florida Panthers scoring the game-winning goal — his first goal as a Blueshirt — in the third period adding two assists for three points to lead his team to a 5-2 victory.
The Great One scores four points in first game as a King at Great Western Forum in 1988
Prior to the 1988-89 NHL season, the biggest trade in NHL history was made when the Los Angeles Kings acquired Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers.
It did not take long for the Great One to make an impact on the Kings and Los Angeles. In his first game as a King, which was on home ice at the Great Western Forum against the Detroit Red Wings on Oct. 6, 1988, Gretzky scored and picked-up three assists.
Penguins’ rookie Marc-Andre Fleury stars in losing effort
The pressure is always on when you are an NHL goaltender. Now imagine you’re 18-years old and making your first start in your team’s home opener.
This was exactly the case for Marc-Andre Fleury on Oct. 10, 2003 as the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Fleury would not disappoint as the youngster stopped 46 of 48 shots, including a penalty shot save in a 3-0 losing effort.
Brendan Shanahan scores 600th Career goal in Rangers’ Home Opener against the Capitals
One of the many reasons the New York Rangers were excited going into the 2006-07 season was because during the previous off-season they signed all-star and Hockey Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan.
In his first game as a Ranger at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 5, 2006 Shanahan did not disappoint. The power-forward picked-up two goals, including his 600th career tally, in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals.