Wednesday, February 7, 2007

These Nights are TOO few and far between!

Bruins-Caps – Jeremy Reich earns his first NHL scrap taking on a willing Ben Clymer. Not exactly Reich’s status, but I give him the checkmark for sticking up for a teammate after a big Clymer hit on Primeau. Both were willing and Reich got the better of this one.

Sharks-Ducks – The Ducks add to their fighting major total last night (51 now) with Parros taking on the once dominate, Scott “The Sheriff” Parker. After a good square off, not much lands in this one. I take that back… they threw their gloves at each other after the fight and Parker landed Parros’ glove in the stands. Nice to see some true emotion out of two top enforcers.

Panthers-Avs – Montador and Lapperiere have a go in this one. I haven’t seen a description for it, but will note that Lappy has all of his team’s fighting majors save ONE. How sad is that if you are Avs fan? Good for Lappy for being so willing. The Panthers, on the other hand, are about as weak as they come in the team toughness category.

Canes-Habs – Eric Staal bumps the goalie and in comes Rivet to protect the netminder. Ladd takes exception and sticks up for his teammate. He eats a big right to the kisser, yet keeps on going. Nice win for Rivet and huge props to Ladd for having a head of steel.

Kings-Lightning – Roy gives Ivanans the nudge and these two big heavies have a go. Both go with rights with each landing a few, Roy more early and Ivanans more late.

Blackhawks-Flames – Phaneuf puts a nice hit on Seabrook and latches on. Seabrook doesn’t like the attention and sheds the mits. BOTH lose the lids (good for them!) and have a go. They throw a couple while spinning, each landing one or two and Phaneuf lands one on the way down. Dion “the Canadian” Phaneuf can play on my team any day.

Preds-Pens – Talbot and Hordichuk have a running feud. The tussled last year and they wasted no time in this one. Another Hordichuk hit starts this one and Talbot comes over to say hello and they both drop the gloves. Talbot doesn’t last long however against the highly skilled enforcer and goes down immediately, eating a few rights for his troubles. Talbot gets points for being willing to go against a solid scrapper in Darcy.

Yotes-Jackets – A big scrum ensues after a whistle along the boards and Boynton is throwing punches at Shelley around the linesman. Something must have landed because Shelley had a nice mouse on his eye and was spitting blood. He was noticeably upset and was yapping at Laraque while being pushed over the Yotes bench. It would have been nice to have seen what would have happened should the linesman not have been there. Might have been a different story. As these two are going to the box, Konopka and Nolan get free and start firing away. Each exchange a couple of spirited rights before Konopka sends Nolan down and feeds him a few when he tries to get back up. Surprised this game didn’t have more tough stuff after this, especially being played at 3-0 for quite some time.

Game of the Night – Oilers-Nucks… I will leave this one up to “ILB” at
This was easily one of the most entertaining games, if not THE most entertaining game of hockey that I have watched thus far this season. It had everything - Amazing hits, fights, lots of roughing after the whistle, and some pretty goals. Here's what I saw... Early in the game, in the first couple of minutes, Zack Stortini absolutely crunches Lucas Krajichek (sp?) with a massive body check. Stortini really caught him in the trolley tracks behind the net, but it was a clean hit. Stortini figured that someone would be coming for him after that hit so he quickly turned and looked for the first guy coming and Rory Fitzpatrick happened to be in the vicinity. They both dropped the gloves but Stortini simply fell on Fitzpatrick and there were no punches thrown - but this set the tone for the rest of the game. Krajichek had to helped off the ice and was gone for the game. Fitzpatrick and Stortini got roughing minors but it started off an extremely intense first period. Then Jeff Cowan off the Canucks nailed one of the Oilers from behind into the boards - It was a big-time hit and probably should have been called for boarding. I can't remember which Oiler it was who got nailed, but it was very hard. Anyway Jeff Greene of the Oilers immediately dropped the gloves and went after Cowan who dropped his gloves as well... Zebras get in there before the fight can really get going and once again two guys with the gloves off are given roughing minors. Excellent officiating for a change! Of course these two big hits set up a lot of animosity and as soon as the coincidental minors are served, there is a whistle in the Canucks' end and we have Zach Stortini vs Jeff Cowan: Stortini lines up facing three Vancouver Canucks players and there is some trash talking going on... One of those Canucks player's is Jeff Cowan and off the draw, they hardly look at the puck and while Stortini is chirping, Cowan drops the gloves. Stortini is one second behind and away they go! Both fighters get in tight and start grappling a little bit, jockeying for position, each guy wary of letting the other get loose. Both guys start throwing with the lefts in tight with Stortini landing about 3-5 shots and Cowan landing 2-4, hard to say without the benefit of a replay. It looked like Stortini's had a little more pop behind them though... Nothing was doing much damage though as they were in pretty close and it was starting to look like a Brashear-esque scrap - but Stortini tried to gain some separation and it became obvious that Stortini wanted to get loose while Cowan was content to keep in close. Stortini switches to the right and throws about two or three shots, one which might have landed solidly, which causes them to separate and gives him more space to throw. Than Stortini throws an absolute bomb of a right hand which might have partially caught Cowan but it was difficult to tell - definitely didn't catch him flush though. Stortini than wrestles Cowan down to the ground and the zebras are there to break things up. Give the win to Stortini - he didn't land much but he controlled the fight and landed more/better. Later in the period Ladislav Smid tried to go after Matt Cooke after Cooke caught somebody with a very hard hit. Cooke of course didn't fight... The chippy play wasn't over though as later on in the period Matt Cooke caught Ales Hemsky with a very hard hit. Hemsky went back after Cooke and got him with a cross-check, and this brought in Raffi Torres and Steve Staios after Cooke. Also at another point Hemsky gave Luongo a partial shot as he went for a rebound and this brought in Canucks d-man Willie Mitchell after Hemsky. Oilers captain Jason Smith didn't like this and he skated in from the point and manhandled Mitchell out of the pile, threw him up against the glass and looked like he wanted to fight him but the linesmen came in quickly. No penalties were issued on the play but it was a VERY intense game. There were several "almost" fights, and it felt like there was a potential for a line brawl on a couple of occasions. These two teams clearly don't like each other. Also Zach Stortini was a force last night - He threw about 3-4 huge hits, the hit on Krajichek being one of the best I've seen yet this season which put Krajichek out for the game, he scored a beautiful goal which was his first NHL goal, had several quality scoring chances and was clearly Edmonton's best player. Great game by Stortini - Lowe and MacTavish couldn't send this guy down if he wanted to after this game. The fans absolutely LOVE him and were chanting his name. Perhaps the best NHL game that I've watched in past two seasons.
By my count, TEN fights last night. If the NHL had nights like this a bit more often, you would see a hell of a lot more fans in the stands. There were emotion-filled fights, glove throwing, spitting blood, teammates sticking up for one another. It was hockey played with intensity, emotion, and grit.

The most boring game had to have been the Devils-Rangers game… Gary Bettman was in attendance for this one. You make your own comments about this.

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