I began to make a Facebook post regarding my thoughts about yesterday afternoon’s
disaster whooping hockey game in San Jose, but quickly realized I what I wanted to say would be more appropriate in a blog post. So here goes.
There was a turning point to yesterday afternoon’s contest and every Avalanche and Shark fan knows when it was. The hit itself? It was in that gray area where everyone is going to be upset about whatever happens to Stuart.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFDc6gbFPU
The first point of contact was definitely the head. Avalanche and Shark fans can agree on that point. We are all very much aware that the NHL doesn’t like that kind of hit. Also, Brad Stuart didn’t lead with his elbow and that’s good.
Past that, as I said before, fans of either team are going to be sad and angry at whatever is decided about Stuart’s pocketbook/near future.
Depending on which angle is/was available for your viewing pleasure, Stuart started the hit low and ended high. Those hits can get ugly.
Also, as Stuart followed through on the hit he left his feet. Did he jump? Not really, so it couldn’t be classified as a charge. But both feet definitely were off the ice at one point during the action of the collision.
Stuart was also not penalized for the hit.
Gabriel Landeskog returned to the game during the second period after being evaluated in the locker room. If he hadn’t returned and was going to be out for a while I’d put my money on Stuart getting at least a few games. But Since Landy is seemingly going to miss no time, I’m prepared for pretty much anything the league decides to dish out, including nothing. I’ve found it simpler to not expect much from the ShanaBan. It’s just simpler.
Overall, I’m simply relieved that Gabriel Landeskog looked like he was alright for the rest of the game. Avs fans know my feeling well. The Avs can’t afford to lose someone like 92 for an extended period of time.
The Aftermath and the Lappy Factor…
Ryan O’Byrne made it clear that hits on the young Avalanche captain would not be tolerated. Sometimes this happens in hockey, but don’t tell the Sharks television announcers that. (I’m sure their thoughts would have been different is it was Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau who was on the receiving end of a similar hit from Ryan Wilson. But I digress.) Does Ryan O’Byrne make anyone nervous because of his toughness? I like Cody McLeod, but has it ever been his role to be somewhat of an enforcer? Patrick Bordeleau is listed a 6’6″, 225 pounds, but is anyone not going to think twice about taking liberties with any Avalanche player as a result of a large rookie in his first few games in the NHL? This game, and a handful of Avs games during the past few seasons, needed some Lappy.
This is a concern I’ve had ever since Ian Laperriere departed the Avalanche for the Flyers. Granted, Lappy was one of the best in the business at things like this, I’m beginning to get a little nervous that the Avalanche are considered a “soft” team because that’s how I have seen them be treated over the past few seasons. Opposing forwards have hacked on Avalanche goaltenders with not much or enough consequence. During the 2013 home opener, and a good two or three seconds after the whistle, Drew Doughty shot the puck into an unattended Avalanche net. For those of you that know hockey at pretty much any level, this is a definite unwritten no-no that gets addressed especially that long after the whistle. It’s more about respect than anything. The Avalanche players on the ice barely even looked at Doughty twice. I don’t want or need fights or thugs in every game, but accountability is a must in this and every sport.
The Avalanche, and every NHL team, has their fair share of players that simply won’t fight or get in people’s faces. Guys like Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene (with one fight in his three plus NHL seasons), Mark Olver, Chuck Kobasew, and David Jones (although I believe he has one NHL fight and one NHL “fight” on his resume) are examples of players like this. And believe me, I don’t have a problem with players in this category. My worry though is that the Avalanche have a few too many of these guys, especially after losing Steve Downie for the season to a knee injury early last week. This team is young, but young doesn’t have to equal soft.
The remainder of yesterday’s game after the hit bothered me. And believe me, I didn’t need a bloodbath. They aren’t cool. Besides, Avalanche fans are especially sensitive to bloodbaths. The Avalanche had a choice though after the hit on one of their franchise players of the future and, in my opinion, they ended up laying down. The Sharks are hot, there is no doubt about that, but the Avalanche also showed what they were made of yesterday. It wasn’t much. Sure, this was only one game, but I’ve noticed this trend for a little while now.
One other question was could Shane O’Brien have helped the Avalanche’s cause yesterday afternoon in San Jose? My guess is yes, but for various reasons he has been a healthy scratch for the first four games of the season. I can imagine yesterday’s happenings served as motivation for O’Brien and I’m hoping he’ll be back on the ice for the Avalanche shortly. He has contributed positive things to this team since he has been in Denver.
Joe Sacco likes to bring up two things on a consistent basis to the media. One is “starting the game on time.” The other is being a team that is “tough to play against.” I’m having a difficult time deciding whether “tough” means scoring more goals than the opposition or actually being “tough.” I’m looking for some more of the latter from this season’s team.
Let’s Go Avs.