This was a really tightly-played, pretty exciting game, even though it was only 1-1 in regulation. The horror! Am I right, MSM?
Before I get started, can I just say one more time how much I love Nik Hagman? I really do love that guy. He had a couple of chances in the game, as usual. He is all over that puck all the time. Razor has pointed out on other occasions that when he goes back to the bench at the end of his shift, he always looks like he might not make it. He spends everything he has on every shift. Then that fantastic shootout goal to win the thing. Very creative, coming in sideways like that.
“Nobody knew what Haggy was going to do, including us,” Tippett said.
Hagman said he duplicated a move he used to score on a short-handed breakaway earlier this season.
“I’ve tried it a couple of times in practice, and maybe that’s something goalies don’t expect,” he said.
—Mike Heika, Dallas Morning News
I’m sure Eddie Olczyk is a fine broadcaster, but a little of him certainly goes a long way. In tonight’s game he was really hoping he was about to break the story that Modano was in Coach Tippett’s doghouse again. Modano missed most of the first period and when he did come out, there was a graphic showing he’d only had two shifts. Edzo starts wondering why he only had two shifts. Mo seems okay, maybe it was an equipment problem, or maybe it was the “coach’s decision.” And as added evidence, Edzo notices, Modano’s out on the penalty kill! I tried to point out to him the last game on Versus that Modano always plays on the penalty kill. He likes it! It’s not a punishment!
Meanwhile, as he frets, we get long, drawn-out close-ups of Modano as he skates around during a stoppage and we can all see that he has a huge stitched-up gash on his chin and blood all over his jersey. Edzo doesn’t notice this. He’s beside himself thinking he’s going to find out something juicy.
After the first intermission, Christine Simpson, the ice-level reporter has a report from the locker room! He got cut by a stick and had to get stitches! Whew! A crisis averted!
Later in the game (I should really take notes), Chris Conner beats a Blue Jacket to a puck to negate the icing in a very exciting play and Edzo and Joe Beninati were completely oblivious. Just chatting away about some personal experience they thought was more compelling.
One other complaint about the Versus broadcast and I’ll leave them alone. (Hey, at least they were in HD. Bad high-def beats good standard def any dang day.) They appear to suffer from too strict an adherence to the camera-shot template they apparently have. Early on, probably the first real shot on Pascal LeClair, we get a shot of him just standing around while there is obviously something going on behind him. He’s looking behind him, players are zipping in behind him, and a scrum is obviously trying to get started. But we just see the goalie. The same thing happened later in the game where they stuck to their planned shot and didn’t look around at something that was going on off-camera. It’s like the new girl at the counter that is not interested in the circumstance of your complaint, only the rule that applies to it. No wavering based on the situation. That’s our policy, ma’am. Even if it’s stupid.
I’m starting to think I should go with the theme of complaining about the broadcast after every game. Just kidding, that would be too boring. Still, somebody should tell them these things. On the whole it was perfectly acceptable; just a few things to work on, Versus.
Here are some miscellaneous observations:
*Brenden Morrow has lately been spending precious time after every gaffe saying, “Shit!” or whatever it is he says after he loses the puck or passes it to nobody. As my music teachers used to say, if you make a mistake, keep going, maybe nobody will notice.
*Niskanen looked none the worse for being the latest victim of the Flyers Machine. The Versus guys were really giving him some credit for learning from Zubov how to “walk the blue line” during the power play. That bodes very well for us if Zubov is passing along some of his genius.
*The Stars played generally well, but there were plenty of times when I said, “Gah! What are you doing?!” LeClair at their end and Turco at our end each did an excellent job.
*Modano continued to amaze me with his skill at stickwork, as they call it. Once, a Jacket was trying to pass across the zone to the other point and, naturally, tried to send it a little high to get over any defender’s sticks. But Modano just waved his stick and deflected it out of mid-air. I find myself re-winding often to watch Modano when he backchecks and surprises someone who’s about to catch a pass, lifting the player’s stick. It happens so fast, you’d be inclined to blame the guy for whiffing on the catch, but it’s Modano’s subtle stick-lift that screws the guy up. It’s an art.
Now the poor boys are finally on their way home. I’m sure they’re relieved. 4-2 on a 6-game East Coast road trip is really not bad at all. I think they can keep it up if they don’t get too comfortable sleeping on their own pillows.