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High fliers and bottom feeders

The best and worst from Week 1 of the NHL season

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The old and the young rose to the top as NHL hockey resumed this week after a four-month lockout.

Here's a look at the best and worst from the first week of the lockout-shortened season:

The Good

1. VLADIMIR TARASENKO: The 21-year-old rookie for the St. Louis Blues staked an early claim on the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year as he piled up four goals and two assists in three games. The slick right winger scored on his first two NHL shots in an opening-night victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

2. NAIL YAKUPOV: The first overall pick in the June draft bats a puck out of the air to score the game-tying goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation time and the Edmonton Oilers go on to beat Los Angeles 2-1. But what lingers is the goal celebration, as Yakupov slides nearly the length of the ice on his knees, stick upraised, and euphoric Oilers fans go bananas.

3. DAMIEN BRUNNER: The Red Wings' Swiss rookie ends a shootout against Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with a move that NBC analyst Pierre McGuire calls "Datsyukian." Brunner seems to defy the laws of physics as he drags himself and the puck sideways on the forehand and stuffs it in.

4. OLD BOYS: Opening night saw veterans at or near 40 years old pile up points. Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne each had two goals and a pair of assists. Jagr's Dallas teammate Ray Whitney had a goal and a helper. And Alex Kovalev returned to the NHL with a goal and two assists. That's not to mention 40-year-old Martin Brodeur, who led the league in save percentage and goals-against average after two games.

5. PATRICK MARLEAU: The San Jose veteran became the first player since Peter Stastny in 1982-83 to open the season with six goals in his first three games. It helped that linemate Joe Thornton had a league-leading nine points, including assists on five Marleau goals.

The Bad

1. NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Those long pre-game ceremonies aren't always kind to the local lads, as 17 teams lost their home openers. It was worst in Los Angeles, where after a rousing Stanley Cup banner raising, the visiting Chicago Blackhawks smoked the Kings 5-2.

2. INJURY WATCH: It was expected after a long layoff with a busy schedule that there would be injuries. To name a few: Colorado's Steve Downie is gone with a torn ACL. Flyers' defenceman Andrej Meszaros is out a month with a shoulder problem and winger Scott Hartnell has a foot injury. Toronto's Joffrey Lupul has a broken forearm.

3. THE LUONGO SAGA: The man of many trade rumours didn't sit on the bench long as new starting goalie Cory Schneider was blitzed for five goals in 27 minutes of the Vancouver Canuck's opener against Anaheim. Roberto Luongo started the next game, but the debate resumed as Schneider bounced back with a 34-save win over Calgary.

4. WHAT FAVOURITES? Pre-season predictions went heavily for the New York Rangers, who dropped their first two games and ended the week at 1-3-0. The Kings started 0-2-1, while the Red Wings were 1-2-0 in three games. And Washington, supposedly in a bounce-back year, went 0-3-0 and were outscored 14-6.

5. RED LIGHTS: Some well-regarded goaltenders put up some dreadful first-week numbers. Cam Ward of Carolina's goals-against average was 4.71, just behind Mike Smith of the Coyotes' 4.62. The worst was Braden Holtby of Washington at 5.04.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2013 B15

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