By now, you know the drill: when the game was played early yesterday, I rarely post a typical recap. Rather, I generally post the usual string of game tidbits. I’ll do the same for yesterday afternoon’s shootout win in Columbus. You know what happened: Jake Dowell scored twice, while Sharp and Kane added tallies.
Yo, Listen Up!
– Of the couple big stories that will emerge from yesterday’s game is Antti Niemi’s fourth straight start, with the fourth coming on the back end of a back-to-back. After all, I stated it as a fact yesterday morning that Cristobal Huet would start in Columbus, especially after Niemi surrendered seven goals in his previous two games, albeit in two wins.
So, while I’m not entirely sure what Joel Quenneville is thinking, I don’t believe he’s “passing the torch” – so to speak – from Huet to Niemi as the number one. Coming off three straight wins, it seems Q was hesitant to change the winning solution any more than necessary.
Other than that, especially after 11 goals in four starts for Niemi, I’m not sure I want to guess anymore.
– The game’s big standout from yesterday’s game was Troy Brouwer, who received 19 minutes in penalties with 15 minutes left in regulation for making Anton Stralman his Valentine. This was after Stralman stepped up at the Jackets’ blue line and went knee-to-knee with Hawk star Patrick Kane.
I’ll again skip over the “enforcer” debate and stick with the facts.
First, the sequence shows another reason I fell in love with hockey when I was three. Though the camera didn’t catch the beginning of the altercation because the puck was down at the other end of the ice, while Stralman is anything but a heavyweight, he apparently willingly dropped the gloves with Troy Brouwer, who’s certainly not a heavyweight but can protect himself when necessary. Kudos to Stralman for answering the bell.
Next, I urge you all to listen to the Columbus replay of the hit and the fight. As Brouwer rains blows upon Stralman and after the play-by-play man celebrates Kane’s pain, he screams, “Stralman’s not a fighter!” Then, he begs the referees to stop the madness, asking them to step in and reign-in the large maniac knocking the Blue Jacket into next week.
Well, maybe Stralman will remember the massive beating next time he steps up on a 175-pound superstar. Such is life in the National Hockey League. If you’re “not a fighter(!),” you should skate very, very carefully and choose your targets even more carefully. If you’re not careful, you may find a big, sweaty man ripping your helmet off and raining fists rather quickly.
– Speaking of fighting, I thought Pat Foley was well on his way to a stroke when Raffi Torres went after Patrick Sharp in the third and, rather than receiving 17 minutes in penalties (two less because I don’t believe he wears a shield), he got a two-minute roughing sentence.
I’m not sure why one attack was different than the other, but I assume the referees were hesitant to let the Hawks play the majority of overtime on the power play.
– I didn’t necessarily notice yesterday evening, but Kris Versteeg got less than five minutes of ice. Either Q’s had enough of his stickhandling, or Versteeg killed Q’s brother over the weekend. Either way, five minutes?!
– I said yesterday that I didn’t necessarily like Patrick Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Kane, but with two more goals on Sunday, I’m starting to see the light.
To me, I think the line is too diminutive to fight through any struggles that may come. Lacking any size, they’ll be hard pressed to forecheck themselves out of any problems, but maybe I should just enjoy the points as they come. Sharp certainly seems to be; he looks rejuvenated.
Again, though, until Tuomo Ruutu makes his return, I’ll just be unsatisfied.
– While the Hawk power play continues to have its difficulties, I’m still dumbfounded as to why the points are never on the correct side. Case in point: against the Stars on Tuesday – I believe – the Hawks had a 5-on-3. Keith and Seabrook were on the point, but Seabrook was on the right side while Keith was on the left. That meant that each essentially took away the one-timer from themselves, leaving them passing the puck back and forth, as each passed up shot after shot. After about 30 seconds, they switched, but thinking about why they didn’t line up that way kept me up at night.
It happened a couple times last night, too, though not on the two-man advantage.
*Weekend Farm Update*
–Friday: Rockford 4, Milwaukee Admirals 2 – In a game where the IceHogs never trailed, Evan Brophey put Rockford on the board eight minutes in. Daryl Boyle and Rob Klinkhammer had assists. Ater the Admirals tied it at the end of the first, Kyle Greentree scored his 21st goal of the year on the power play. Bracken Kearns and Richard Petiot had the helpers. Jake Dowell extended Rockford’s lead eight minutes later with his sixth goal of the year. Klinkhammer had his second assist of the game.
The Admirals sliced into the two goal lead early in the third but it was as close as they would get. Richard Petiot scored an empty netter to seal the deal.
Corey Crawford stopped 27 of the 29 shots in the win.
Saturday: Milwaukee Admirals 3, Rockford 2 – After the IceHogs went into Milwaukee and grabbed a win on Friday night, the Admirals returned the favor on Saturday. Danny Bois scored for Rockford two and a half minutes into the game with assists going to Jake Dowell and Brian Connelly. The Admirals responded by scoring 3 unanswered goals. Evan Brophey scored his second goal in as many nights but the IceHogs wouldn’t get any closer.
Corey Crawford had 30 saves in the loss.
–In two games this weekend, Shawn Lalonde had a goal and an assist.
–Kyle Beach notched an assist on Friday and had a hat trick, including the game-winning goal in overtime, on Saturday.
–Byron Froese had a goal and an assist in two games.
–Brandon Pirri scored a goal and had three assists as RPI beat Harvard on Friday night and lost to Dartmouth on Saturday. Pirri is third in the nation with 30 assists on the season and with 39 points, he’s currently tied for 8th in total points. He leads all freshman in assists and points.
–Newly acquired Nick Leddy had an assist as the Golden Gophers were swept by Denver this weekend. Denver outscored Minnesota 8-2 in the two games.
Not that anybody needs to be reminded, but the Feather will be fully functional during the Olympic break. There will be no shortage of thoughts and/or posts. We’re going to kick off the festivities with our Olympic preview which ran in Saturday’s edition of “The Committed Indian.”