October 26, 2009
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
We had a whopper of a three-day span for all you dirty hit lovers here in the NHL, as I'm sure you're all aware.
However, some hits were dirtier than others, as evidenced by the NHL's decision to suspend Tuomo Ruutu(notes) but not Mike Richards(notes) (Star players! Preferential treatment! Fan incredulity!). So as a way to help you, the average hockey fan, figure out your visceral gut reactions while attempting to feign impartiality, I think we should look at each hit together, figure out just how dirty they were.
That way we can begin to form a singular thought process and move one step closer to becoming the Borg.
[Coming Up: Sidney Crosby's(notes) new nickname; Breaking the bank on Bourque; Cal Clutterbuck(notes) needs to lie down; the latest Sens scapegoat; a whole bunch of videos; more injuries for the Canucks as Kyle Wellwood(notes) eats Andrew Raycroft(notes) (I think); yet another reason Nashville can't score; the Avs' awful third jersey; and references to both 1980s wrestling managers and Arrested Development [the show, not the hip hop group.)]
Was it bad?: Hell yes.
Should you be mad?: Absolutely.
What's the grad(e)?: Like an A+.
This is a textbook example of how not to hit a guy along the boards. This was a situation where Ruutu could see nothing but numbers and just drilled the guy. The only reason we didn't feel totally bad for him is because it was Darcy Tucker. Three games' suspension is about right.
Next up is the infamous Mike Richards hit.
Was it bad?: It sure was.
Should you be mad?: Not especially.
What's the grad(e)?: Call it a C-.
As "dirty" hits go, this one is pretty tame. Richards had already committed to the hit on Booth well before the puck was gone, and didn't really have time or room to pull out of it. Was it headhunting? Maybe, but the way Booth kind of stands up at right before impact probably negates the issue of intent. Richards is an honest hockey player, which is more than you can say for Ruutu, but if the NHL really wants to cut down on headshots, then it would have been good to at least fine Richards and make some sort of example of him.
Because it's been a weekend full of borderline cheapshots, you knew Steve Ott(notes) wasn't about to let himself get outdone by a couple punks that never even tried to take a guy's eye out with their thumb.
Were they bad?: Yes, it's Steve Ott.
Should you be mad?: Yes, it's Steve Ott.
What are the grad(es)?: A solid B for the hip check, and an A for the knee-on-knee.
Given what we've seen over the years, I'm disinclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on his intentions with the low-bridge on Carlo Colaiacovo(notes). It looks bad because Colaiacovo jumped to avoid the hipcheck (never a good idea, hockey players!) but look at the amount of time and space Ott has to bail and just doesn't do it. And then, of course, there's the kneeing penalty against BJ Crombeen(notes), which is so blatant as to be hilarious. Ott is a uniquely dirty player, and he turtles when Crombeen tries to make him pay for it.
Outstanding work outta Brave Steve once again this weekend. He's got to get suspended for one of those hits.
Was it bad?: Oh my yes.
Should you be mad?: No doubt about it.
What's the grad(e)?: A+ for sure.
Granted the blood and the faceplant make it bad, but Scuderi saw Ott's kinda-sorta low-bridge and said, "Oh I can get a whole lot lower than that." That's some Hunt for Red October work right there. The best part, though, is that Scuderi didn't get a penalty, Chimera got a misconduct, and the Kings got a power play out of this mess.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: The "good" news (good being a relative term) was that JS Giguere recovered from his groin injury in time for Saturday's game against Columbus. The bad news is that Randy Carlyle gave him the start, he surrendered five goals on 35 shots and left the game with another injury.
Atlanta Thrashers: More injury news: Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) took a puck off the foot Saturday against Anaheim and left the game. He's getting further info on the extent of the injury later today. And that's why Ilya Kovalchuk shouldn't go in the defensive zone. </jwalterweatherman>
Buffalo Sabres: Tyler Myers(notes) showed a liiiiittle bit of skill in picking up his shootout winner Saturday. I don't think 19-year-old defensemen that are 6-foot-8 should be physically able to make plays like this.
Calgary Flames: Scott Cruikshank raises an interesting question: Just how expensive is it going to be for the Flames to keep Rene Bourque(notes), who had another superb game Saturday against the hated Oilers with three points and four hits. How much I think he'll cost: too much for Darryl Sutter to afford.
Carolina Hurricanes: Paul Maurice knows exactly who's to blame as his Canes drop their sixth in a row, this time to the lowly Wild, dead last in the West: the officials! "I was not pleased with the slant of the way that game went in terms of the calls that were made," he said. Yeah, that 23-15 disparity in penalty minutes was an obvious con job by the refs, no question.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Prior to Saturday's game with Anaheim, Ken Hitchcock vowed to shake up the lines. He did just that, and Derrick Brassard saw himself dropped from the first line to the fourth after going minus-5 in his previous two games. He got less than eight minutes of ice time and recorded no stats whatsoever.
Detroit Red Wings: Either the Avs are the best penalty killers in the league or the Wings have been terrible on the power play against them. They're 1 for 12 man-up against Colorado this year after going 0-for-8 on Saturday.
Edmonton Oilers: Money quote from Saturday's dismal effort and 5-2 loss to their provincial rivals comes from Sam Gagner(notes): "We had a few tough breakdowns at tough times. Our effort was good, but our execution has to be better. We can't expect Khabby to do it for us every single game. When you give up five goals to Calgary..."
...you only have a 20 percent chance to come back and win 6-5 in overtime.
Minnesota Wild: Cal Clutterbuck went from almost not playing to scoring like this in overtime.
P.S. Carolina defense, you're doing it wrong.
Montreal Canadiens: Mike Boone, in his always-excellent About Last Night... (seriously, read it after every Habs game), recounts a great question outta radio host Tony Marinano. "Was [using Guillaume Latandresse on the power play over Andrei Kostitsyn(notes)] a reward for Guillaume, a challenge for Guillaume or a message to Andrei?"
Martin, who smiles less often than Stephen Harper during these sessions with the media, couldn't suppress a grin as he replied:
Martin's really got his troops marching now. Les Habitants will be an interesting watch for the remainder of the season.
Nashville Predators: The Preds got shut out for the third time already this season. By Cristobal Huet(notes). Yeah, I know. The top line of Steve Sullivan(notes), David Legwand(notes) and Martin Erat(notes) have four total points in 10 games and their salaries total $14 million.
New Jersey Devils: Things that are not good: Jacques Lemaire describing injuries to Jay Pandolfo(notes) and Paul Martin(notes) as "scary." Pando dislocated his right shoulder and Martin blocked a shot with his left arm then got slashed in it. Not good.
New York Islanders: Even if they're bad (they are), the Islanders at least go around earning other players' respect up until the third period. First Brooks Laich(notes) praised their hard work, but then said, "On the ice you could see fatigue in their faces in the third when we started carrying the play. They looked a little tired." The Islanders are 1-0-3 when leading after two periods this year.
New York Rangers: Brandon Dubinsky(notes) got benched for the entire second half of Saturday's game for a particularly egregious neutral-zone turnover with which John Tortorella was entirely unhappy. Chris Higgins got the same treatment for a bad penalty and a lack of backchecking.
Ottawa Senators: Total meltdown by Ottawa on Saturday, and the Ottawa press has found its scapegoat for the Sens giving up two goals inside of two minutes to go to blow a two-goal lead and then lose in a shootout. Try to think of who it could be. Spezza, Alfredsson, the defense, the coaching? Well you were close, it's Tim Thomas.
Phoenix Coyotes: If you had Oct. 25 in the "When does Dave Tippett start replying curtly to questions about where this team will be next year?" pool, you can pick up your winnings in Hamilton later today.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Apparently it's time to give Sidney Crosby a new nickname. I like Sidney "The Doctor of Style" Crosby as much as the next guy, but Sidney "The Mouth of the South" Crosby is my darkhorse.
San Jose Sharks: Like most goalies recently, Brian Boucher(notes) struggled against the Sharks, his old team, in his re-debut with Philly, his new-but-also-old team. He gave up two goals to Manny Malhotra(notes) and another to Jed Ortmeyer(notes). The win meant Sharks ended their east-coast road trip 4-2-0, and they're looking real strong.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts have now lost three shootouts this year, having blown late leads in two of those games. Steven Stamkos(notes) gets to the heart of the matter when discussing how to not do that any more: "Maybe win it before we go to a shootout." Maybe, kid. Maybe.
Play of the Weekend
You wanna talk about important plays, how about Brian McGrattan's(notes) epic scrap with Steve MacIntyre(notes) early in Saturday's Battle of Alberta Pt. 3? Fight lasted close to two minutes and there were some BOMBS exchanged. McGrattan certainly got his boys going. After giving up a goal just 2:25 in, the Flames outscored their old rivals 5-1 the rest of the way.
Gold Star Award
Mike Cammalleri had a huge night in Montreal. Three goals, including the overtime game-winner, and an assist.
Minus of the Weekend
Note to Brian Boucher: if you ask into a game against your old team, don't suck, eh? Four goals on 28 shots, pretty much all of them ugly? Not good, Boosh. Not good at all.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "Prudentius" would like to solve the Habs' goaltending problems.
To LAK: Price, S. Kost, Hamrlik, 1st 2011
To MTL: J. Johnson , Frolov, Stoll, Ersberg, 1st 2010
He would also, apparently, like to acquire good players for cents on the dollar.
If someone had left a note, this innocent man would still have his arm!