I always enjoy looking back on previous seasons and finding similarities between games of the past and those of the present. You’ll never find any truth in the comparisons; it’s just fun to look at. Obviously, after Saturday night’s beatdown in Vancouver on Hockey Night in Canada, I wanted to check out what we said last February when Vancouver held the Hawks’ proverbial head in the toilet on a Saturday night in front of all of Canada. And yes, I’m aware I am pathetic.
Well, here ya go. Kind of freaky, huh? In that game, the Hawks trailed 3-0 after one period of play; their starting goalie (Huet) was yanked; and as soon as the Hawks threatened at making a comeback, the Canucks popped in a goal to put them away.
Anyways, while the Hawks are starting to show some annoying defensive tendencies, the good news is the mistakes are of the mental variety, not physical (discluding Cam Barker, obviously). The end result of Brent Seabrook’s recent habit of making soft plays is usually the other team celebrating. Stuff like that can be shored up and I don’t think I’m out of line in thinking that it will be.
Sticking on the defensive side, the Olympic break can’t get here fast enough for Ham Sandwich and Brent Sopel. Against Vancouver, Sandwich took a shot off the gonads and Sopel went crashing into the boards chest first at approximately 54 miles per hour. They just need to get to mid-February with their bodies in less than three pieces.
As for Vancouver’s string of success against the Hawks thus far, I don’t know maybe it’s just me, but it sure seems like the games mean a whole lot more to the Canucks than they do the Hawks. Canucks boss Alain Vigneault’s gameplan doesn’t make it seem like he’s holding anything back whereas with the Hawks and Joel Quenneville, I get the sneaking suspicion that they’re not going to tip their hand for two points in January. That’s just me, though.
–So let me get this straight: You start a fight with someone, he lands one big punch, you respond by tackling him to the ice to end the fight as soon as possible, and then after the game, you call him out in the media that he was the coward. I vaguely recall the hit Ryan Kesler is referencing but it sure seems like it runs a bit deeper than that. Perhaps Kesler and Ladd crossed paths in the World Junior Championships as both represented their home countries when they were eligible.
–Kris Versteeg has now tied his career high with a five-game pointless streak. This all following a nine-game point streak. I hate when players get called out for not scoring, but Versteeg has been largely invisible in all facets of his game. Last night, Versteeg registered his first shots on goal in four games. Not good.
*On the Farm*
—Despite spending the majority of this season bouncing between Rockford and Toledo of the ECHL, defenseman Jonathan Carlsson put together his best game as a IceHog on Saturday night. Carlsson scored his first goal of the season and was a +3 in a 5-2 win over Grand Rapids.
Bryan Bickell opened the scoring for Rockford with an assist from Evan Brophey six minutes in the game. In the second period, Bracken Kearns and Carlsson scored to give the IceHogs a 3-0 lead. The Griffins scored the next two goals to cut the deficit to one heading into the final period.
Mark Cullen scored 12 minutes into the third to give Rockford some breathing room and Kyle Greentree sealed the win with an empty netter.
Other notable achievements: Jack Skille and Matt Keith each had two assists. Kearns added an assist to go with his goal. Corey Crawford stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced. Since returning from his two month lower body injury hiatus, Crawford has gone 5-1-1.
—Kyle Beach scored the game-winning goal on Saturday night in Spokane’s 3-2 win over the Tri-City Americans. Sunday against Everett, Beach didn’t register a point but did have 6 minutes in penalties. To be fair, 2 of the minutes came when Beach served his team’s too many men on the ice penalty.
—Byron Froese had no points and was a +1 in a 3-2 win over Spokane.
—Shawn Lalonde had an assist and was a +1 in Belleville’s 5-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit.
—Dylan Olsen had 6 shots on goal and an assist in UMD’s 5-4 overtime loss to Bemidji State on Saturday. Dan DeLisle did not dress.
—Brandon Pirri had an assist in RPI’s 3-3 tie with Harvard on Saturday.
—Billy Sweatt didn’t register a point in Colorado College’s 2-1 loss to Alaska-Anchorage.