For the fifth straight year, our giddy anticipation of the start of the season was mildly spoiled by a rough loss in the very first game. This morning's 4-1 defeat to the Sabres in Helsinki was, oddly enough, the fourth such losing score for Anaheim in those last five season openers (the 4-0 loss in Detroit last year being the only outlier).
What little the Ducks were able to get going on the attack and the power play (where they were 0 for 5) was thwarted by goalie Ryan Miller, who not unexpectedly had a very strong opening game. Anaheim actually outshot the Sabres 30-25 (including 11-0 in the third) but not enough of those shots posed a viable threat to Miller, and Nate Guenin
's goal in the second period was all the Ducks got.
Meanwhile, the Ducks' coverage down low was not sharp, making things tough on Jonas Hiller
. That was a major reason for Buffalo's four goals in the first two periods (two on the power play from Thomas Vanek, who had nine shots), which all but put the game away.
The good news? Three of those previous four seasons ended much better than they started -- with a trip to the playoffs. There's 81 more left, starting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. against the Rangers in Stockholm.