Apparently the NHL handles supplemental discipline in this tournament (as well as goal replays). Its my opinion that they will come down on Thrower, judging on how they have handled things this season. I'm concerned with Leier: short term & long term as well. That kid is a huge part of this team, and will be next season as well.
Other highlights from the 1st were:
Pouliot's stick work - there were 2 or 3 noticeable instances where the play was headed towards the 'Hawks end and #51 stuck his stick out and picked off the puck, and BAM the play was headed the other way. Looked really good with his stick position in the period to me.
One of the biggest plays in the entire game was the save Carruth made on the Stransky breakaway. I'm a glass-half-full guy, and often times if a goalie is struggling and/or the shooter is hot I'm especially optimistic of our goalie making the save. That being said, I wasn't all that sure on this one, until Carruth came up victorious on this play. That's a huge momentum play, as well as confidence - as all goalies have struggled in this tournament.
One thing that was fun was when Ferland took Iverson into the camera well between the benches:
The smile on Iverson's face was great - as well as him touching on it during a mid-game interview.
How 'bout that Pouilot goal: was it soft? He just threw a wrister on net, as both teams were changing. I felt he was rewarded for his good play over the game.
Powerplays were a big part of the 2nd. The two that stand out were the 5-on-3 that the Blades had & the double minor on Ferland.
The first penalty was on Pouliot, for taking a guy into the crossbar behind Carruth. The Blades were trying extra hard to get into Carruth's kitchen all night, and the defense corps had to clean up extra garbage because of it. I'm not sold that Pouliot's X-check was worth 2 minutes, but I'd feel pretty good if it was - I've got no problem with taking a penalty to help establish your goalies crease - especially from a guy who plays his position like Pouliot does.
Then Taylor Peters took a high sticking penalty. The replay looked bad: the puck was head high, he swung his stick at it and whacked a dude. I've heard some in house accounts that the puck hit the other guy in the face, rather than #25's stick, but you can't get your stick in the vicinity of anyone's face and think you're in the clear. This is a huge issue, now that you have one of your top 4 defenseman AND your #1 draw man / penalty killing forward in the box for a minute-and-a-half. Petan took the draw, and eventually Rattie took off on a breakaway. That's how the 'Hawks kill penalties - in my mind their PK is the #1 reason for the success they've had all year.
Then, after killing off the 2 man short portion, the Blades get a flukey goal: centering pass goes off of Rutowski's stick, and past a screened Carruth. Part of me thinks he should have had that one, but between the screen + deflection, I'm not sure.
How many times this year have we seen a 'Hawks powerplay that moves the puck like magic, but has zero sense of urgency to shoot? Its often discussed that you can't just shoot whenever you want, as teams are so good blocking shots & heading the other way (and we saw that too on this PP) - but you have to get some shots AT SOME POINT - which just didn't happen. Four goddamned minutes, like 2 shots got through. Not good enough.
Ferland had 10 pim through 2 periods. That ain't good.
1 -1 after 2 periods.
The 'Hawks have been a 3rd period team for a few years - many credit that to their conditioning.
There were a few moving parts to the DeLeo goal: 'Spooner shot the puck so hard that it knocked the stick clean out of Makarov's hand (at least I'd like to think it did). The rebound ends up behind the net with Bjorkstrand setting up DeLeo out front - with Bittner planted firmly in the slot. DeLeo put that shot right where the goalie's stick would normally be. Bittner ultamitley had little to do with that goal, but I sure liked the look of that big Minnesotan causing a ruck in the slot. I could get used to that.
Shortly thereafter there was the Leipsic goal: #leipsnipe. This has been a "blood in the water" team - they get one, they generally get a couple more. This goal felt like that. During intermission rumor broke that Leipsic signed a pro deal. He hadn't done much to this point of the tourney, then buried this goal - which was huge.
Rattie with the casual 4th goal - dude acted like he's been there before.
Josh Nichols made it interesting with a goal with 3:33 left - good shot, good player, right time to score. Brought the Blades back in it, if only briefly.
Its been fun watching the national (Canadian) media get used to Mac Carruth. Things like being the last one off the ice after warm ups, to getting guys faces in scrums, to playing the puck ALL THE TIME, to things like intentionally fanning on the puck as a fake - he's got too much character to get used to in 4 years - let alone 10 days.
Buzzing The Net: Leier hit
BTN: 3 stars
O-live twitter reaction to the Leier hit
How was a four-minute penalty kill actually counterproductive for the Blades? In their win, the Blades were buoyed by the combo of a late second period penalty kill and an out-of-the-box breakaway goal by Matej Stransky.
It was 1-all with 4:10 left in the second period when Saskatoon overage Michael Ferland got a double minor. Thanks in part to both Brett Stovin blocking "five or six" shots — by his own rough guesstimate — and the puck bouncing on some bad ice, the Winterhawks didn't capitalize. It didn't lift the Blades, though, despite a huge ovation at the end of the period from the announced crowd of 9,239. It took a lot out of them.
"It was probably our only positive of the game," Nicholls said. "Unfortunately, the period ended. What we really needed was a good first five minutes of the third period to keep that momentum. We weren't able to do that. We kind of slowed the game down. We have to keep pushing the pace and use our endurance to push teams to the brink."
"It took a lot of energy out of us," Blades coach-GM Lorne Molleken added. "We had some mistakes that Portland took advantage of."
Friday night should be fun: 1 win away from the Memorial Cup game. I like these odds.
|clean hits don't draw blood|