Friday, November 20, 2009

10 Thoughts about Game 20: Dallas

1. The Columbus Blue Jackets played a complete game and undressed the Dallas Stars, 4-1, in front of 417 fans at the very attractive American Airlines Arena.  Here are your highlights:

2. Just sit back and ask yourself, "If I caught a puck in the mouth, lost two teeth and had part of my jaw crushed, how long would it take for me to get back in the swing of things?"  For Raffi Torres, the answer is ONE WEEK.  ONE FREAKIN' WEEK.  Good God, he's not a man, he's a monster.  No one should be able to do that.  He should be convalescing in a hospital or something, sucking his calories through a straw.

2a.  Not Raffi.  Dude only put in 9:33 of ice time and notched his ninth goal of the season.  I am awed.  He is twelve times the man I am.  For that, let's shout the cheer:

2b. I'm not sure that there's a bright side to his hellacious injury, but allow me a somewhat tasteless attempt:  I now can differentiate Raffi from Fox Sports Ohio's John Michael.

2c. Oh yeah, Raffi had a stomach bug, too.  Just add it to the legend.

3. to say this delicately?  Dallas is a bunch of cheap-shotting, weak-ass punks.

3a. First amongst the Punk Brigade is James Neal, who backed away from Derek Dorsett in the first period and then viscously boarded Dorsett later in the game, sending him sprawling onto the ice with a presumed concussion.

Neal has a hearing on Friday with the NHL and deserves every game that he will be suspended.  It's a shame that he had to get ejected; he would have provided plenty of schadenfreude moments throughout the rest of the game.  Jerk.

3b. The rest of the team is ill-tempered, too.  Do they just have something against teams that are better than them in general, or is resentment that Columbus now has the one coach that got them a Stanley Cup?  I mean, even Marty Turco got in on the Rick Nash fight.

3c.  (Rick Nash got in a fight.  Cool.)

3d. I suppose that this violently erratic behavior should be expected.  Marc Crawford is their head coach, after all.  Remember, Crawford was the whack-job coach of the Colorado Avalanche that melted down on Scotty Bowman and the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Sadly, I can't find the video of Crawford shrieking like a banshee at Bowman, but here's the precipitating stuff:

He also allegedly ordered the Todd Bertuzzi hit in Vancouver that knocked Dennis Moore out of hockey and apparently still is working its way through the courts.  Here's the ESPN guys' take at the time:

My point is, this appears to be Crawford's modus operandi.  If you can't win, fight.  If you fight and can't win, fight more.  If that still doesn't work, take some cheap shots.  Classy.  Great hire, Dallas.  

3e. The beauty of all of this is that the barrage of Dallas penalties lost them the game.  Huselius' second goal and Torres' goal in the second period were 20 seconds apart, and BOTH were power play goals.  It's the sign of a good team when you refrain from punching back (too much) and instead just keep putting the puck in the back of the net.  You keep slashing/boarding/hooking/brawling, we'll keep scoring.  

4. 2 more goals for Kristian Huselius.  That makes 4, I believe, for Juice since he returned from injured reserve.  If he can keep up anything close to this pace, 1) He might catch Raffi Torres (hee hee) and 2) He might justify his cap hit and compensate for his middling-to-poor defensive play.

4a.  It must be fun to be so totally in control of a goalie as Huselius was tonight with Marty Turco.  "Turco....I OWN you." Juice made another drive later in the game and nearly scored again.  I think I saw Turco's knees shaking.  

4b. OK, maybe I was a little harsh on Juice for the defensive play.  He did, after all, grab a puck and make a short-handed goal through his smart defensive positioning and aggressiveness.  (Can we see that more often?)

5. Speaking of goalies, Mason looked much more like the Mason we like.  Good saves, reasonably strong rebound control, command of the crease.  Outings like this make me cautiously optimistic that Hitchcock is managing his two goalies the right way, giving Mason the right breathers of proper duration.

5a. Hmmm....Hitchcock managing the development of a young superstar.  I thought he couldn't do that?

6. The Captain gets his 14th goal of the season with a 'never say die' crash of the crease after Turco bobbled a rebound.  (What an awesome photo.  Take a moment and soak that in.)  That's our man!

7. Nikki who?

8. Surprise Fox Sports Announcer of the Game: Ray Crawford!  His postgame highlights/recap was inspired...classic homerism boosted by a shot of "5 Hour Energy."  He called 'em like they were - yes, a Fox Sports announcer used the words "cheap shot" (and repeatedly tonight!).  Crawford offered a needed casual fan-style enthusiasm in his presentation that has been lacking in game coverage since Danny Gare got the boot.  

9.  I found myself admiring Derick Brassard tonight.  Sure, it was the return trip to the place where his season ended (at the hands of James Neal, no less), and that probably is why my eye was drawn in his direction.  But, in the bigger picture, he's having a tough year.  Despite that fact, he's still trying.  Hard.  I saw him drive and press and try to make plays.  He's going to get past this speed bump and be a fantastic center for Nash (and....Voracek?) for many years to come.

10.  I love a game when Good Beats Evil, when Crime Doesn't Pay.  

Next up: Saturday night in Nashville to take out Darth Vader.  Should be interesting as the Preds won tonight in a shootout and might think that they have a little momentum (but they only beat an Eastern Conference team, so go figure).  All I can say is, I'm glad that Dark Blue Onesie doesn't look like Barry Trotz any more.  That kid was giving me the chills.  

(Photos from Yahoo! Sports - NHL; graphics were created by the Dark Blue Jacket and may be used with permission)

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