This is the best day of the year for hockey fans. Today, everybody's teams are in first place and the playoffs are possible for anyone. Oilers fans are excited to see their three new stars-in-waiting, leafs fans think their team has the best defence in the league and Caps fans are sure last playoffs were a fluke and this is their year.
Canadiens fans sometimes tend to get a bit too caught up in the hype to be happy at the start of a new season. The questions are there, of course. Will Carey Price be able to carry the goaltending load without Halak? Will the team stay healthy? Will not having more grit in the lineup hurt the smaller players' ability to perform? Pondering, debating and sometimes dreading the answers to those questions can make us forget to be hopeful.
While we're afraid Price won't be able to do the job in nets, we forget to hope that he will. What if he really grows into his talent and dominates this season? Today, that could happen. Today, Andrei Kostitsyn could be on the verge of having the season of his life. Benoit Pouliot might be set to find consistency and score thirty goals. P.K.Subban could be getting ready to launch a Calder-winning season. Tomas Plekanec might celebrate his new contract by scoring a point a game. The point is, today, anything is possible.
The new NHL season is like a clean sheet of ice, right after the Zamboni rolls off. It's fresh and smooth and unblemished. Now is the time to enjoy what might be. Just for today, there is no reality. Once the first goal is given up and the first loss in the books, it will be time to ask tough questions. Today is the day to hope. Today is the day of the fan.