Here are just a few observations about pre-season hockey on one of the best nights in baseball history, certainly in my lifetime:
-Before the game, all the rage was Patrick Kane playing center. Funny that a fanbase that suffered through Tomas Kopecky, 2nd line center and clamored to give Jake Dowell a bigger opportunity would be so against giving their most offensively dynamic player a shot. For my money, the only real risk of trying Kane out is suffering an injury from a position he hasn’t played regularly in five years (i.e. taking a huge open ice hit). Otherwise, I don’t have a problem with the move.
Kane didn’t disappoint, putting up a pretty impressive performance. Albeit, it was against the Grand Rapids Red Wings, but nevertheless, it lasted longer than the last time he tried it and it definitely warranted a few more chances.
-After the game, the only thing that will be discussed is the (Brendan) Smith on (Ben) Smith hit. I’m cautiously optimistic with the job Brendan Shanahan has done thus far. Most of my optimism stems from how swift he is and how crystal clear he is on the rulings. I fully expect a suspension to come from the hit, regardless of the defense some are trying to make for Brendan Smith.
Yeah, Ben Smith exposed himself a bit with his toe drag but Brendan still targeted the head on his hit. Besides, if it was a ‘clean’ hit, why was he given a match penalty? Exactly.
-Viktor Stalberg left the game after the first period because of a leg injury that Joel Quenneville described as ‘not good’. That probably means a Civil War surgeon cut it off during the intermission.
So with Ben Smith (most likely) and Viktor Stalberg (most definitely) likely out for the beginning of the season and Patrick Sharp still recovering from his appendectomy, it most likely means Brandon Saad will get his 9 game tryout before being shipped back to Saginaw. Or Brandon Segal could be recalled. Or Brandon Pirri could get a look. That is a lot of Brandons.
-Rusty Olesz, not bad. He certainly doesn’t have a problem standing in front of the goalie on the second power play unit. As for Andrew Brunette, he has been commended for his net presence. Unfortunately, when people hear that, they think of a Dustin Byfuglien-type player who parks himself in front of the crease.
Brunette doesn’t really play like that. He’ll be near the net; he’ll be around the net, but he doesn’t park himself in front of it. He’s more the type of player that looks for the soft spots in the ice to bang home rebounds or one-timers. And there’s nothing wrong with that.