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Archive for February, 2010

You got a little...um...no, right in the front... (Getty Images)

Brenden Morrow is doing just what we Stars fans expect him to do.

There’s a really nice article about him in the The Vancouver Sun (thanks to Andrew’s Stars Page) describing how many people thought he was a bad pick for the team, and how they’ve been proven wrong so far.

He’s scored two goals, one being a really nice tip-in between his feet in the game against Slovakia. He’s been hitting and goalie-screening, as well. In the game against Slovakia, he seemed to be on the ice every other shift. I haven’t checked his ice time, but I assume that it’s high.

I love the guy and I’m terribly proud of him. I hope he won’t be too upset that I’m pulling for Team USA, though.

P.S. Brenden? PLEASE OH PLEASE! Don’t wear a branded mouthpiece when you get back to Dallas! They are so irritating as it is, but it’s especially disheartening to see somebody’s company name hiding your beautiful smile when you’ve just scored a goal. What’s next? GoldenPalace.com across your forehead? [Don’t worry, I didn’t link to the casino.]

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I am still kind of buzzed about last night’s USA-Canada hockey game.

For the benefit of my relatives who don’t really care about hockey, but are still nice enough to read this blog, Team USA beat vaunted Team Canada last night in the Olympics in preliminary play. The game had been highly hyped for months. The Canadians have been presuming they’d coast through the round robin play, scoring at will and embarrassing everybody they met.

And while they may have thought the US might give them a competitive game, they assumed they’d win that one, too.

I braced myself to feel good if we competed well and didn’t get blown out. When Brian Rafalski scored that first goal for the US in the first minute of the game I surprised myself by freaking out.

The rest of the game was a thrill. The Canadians tied it, then the Americans got that one back 30 seconds later. Then the Canadians tied it again! The Americans took the lead again, but when they got the 4th goal to go up by two, I just about lost it.

(more…)

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There are several kinds of fights over hits. In my opinion, the three basic categories are:
• fights after dirty hits,
• fights after any hard hit on a star player,
• fights after clean hits.

I’m okay with fights after dirty hits. I’m okay with fights after questionable, even clean but hard, hits on players like Modano, Eriksson, Richards, etc. I don’t like fights after normal, everyday, clean hits.

But! There are two subcategories of clean hits. The kind that are normal, common, legal and clean that just piss off the guy that gets hit and the kind that are questionable or result in a scary injury.

I’m with Mike Heika in that I understand fights after clean hits when there’s no way the victim’s teammates know if it was clean or not. A few games ago, against Minnesota, Brad Richards got knocked to the ice by a clean, hard, open-ice hit from Cal Clutterbuck and Steve Ott came in and fought the guy over it. That hit fell into two categories — skill player and questionable hit.

The fans and the broadcasters had the benefit of multiple replays to see that it was a legal hit and Brad wasn’t hurt and everything was aboveboard. Steve Ott didn’t. Plus, you just can’t let players like Brad Richards get hit like that.

Last night, in the game against Phoenix, James Neal made a perfectly normal everyday hit along the boards on Petr Prucha, but poor Prucha suffered a terrible injury. His teammates didn’t get a chance to sit quietly and watch replays from all angles to see if it was the hit or the fact that his head hit a stanchion that caused the injury. It’s too bad that Neal had to fight after a clean hit, but that one is understandable.

The fight after a clean hit that I don’t like is when everybody’s okay and nothing is even questionable and it’s on a guy that can take a hit. Several games ago, Mark Fistric got dragged into a fight with Eric Nystrom in a game against Calgary. That was the fight that Mark got fined for because he hit Nystrom with his own helmet. The fight was pointless, though, because Nystrom was the victim of the hit and just didn’t like it so he picked a fight with Fistric. It was a regular hard hit against the boards and Nystrom went after Fistric. He knew that it was a clean hit because he’s the one that took it. None of his teammates even thought anything about it. He was just pouting.

Those are the kinds of fights after clean hits that I don’t like.

So, to recap:
• Fights after dirty hits — OK.
• Fights after hard/questionable/unnecessary hits on star/skilled players — OK.
• Fights after clean hits that require extensive replays and analysis to determine they’re clean or that result in an injury — OK.
• Fights after obviously clean hits — NOT OK.

Simple enough, right?

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In last night’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes, James Neal hit Petr Prucha along the boards and Prucha was injured and carried off the ice on a stretcher. Fortunately, Prucha is out of the hospital and is day-to-day with an “upper body injury.” Hopefully it’s not serious.

The hit was the same kind of “finish the check” hit that occurs dozens of times in every single NHL game. Neal hit him from the side, shoulder to shoulder, and not that hard. The problem was that Prucha’s head hit one of the few stanchions in the arena. Their glass is “seamless” so it doesn’t have a stanchion between all the panes, but there are posts at the penalty box doors and that’s where the hit happened.

Dave Tippett, in his post-game press conference, called it “an obvious hit to the head.” Obviously, he hadn’t seen all the replays.

The Coyotes showed a replay during their broadcast (thanks to Heika’s DMN blog) that was from the nosebleeds behind the goal and it was not close up by any means.

The Stars, on the other hand, showed the replay in slow motion from the main game-play camera, behind and above the penalty boxes.

You can see that Neal hits Prucha’s shoulder with his own shoulder and that Prucha’s head whips against the steel post. It’s a terrible, terrible result from a normal and common hockey play.

James Neal didn’t deserve to have to fight for that hit, but I can understand why the players thought he should. I don’t fault the Coyotes for calling him out during the game. And Neal did the right thing in accepting a fight. But that’s it. It’s over now. We all truly hope that Prucha is okay. Nobody likes to see someone get injured like that.

Neal doesn’t deserve to be called out by his own former coach as a headhunter in the post-game show. Tippett should know better than that. He also doesn’t deserve a suspension or a fine and he doesn’t deserve to be hated forever by all Coyotes fans because of that hit. Sure, Coyotes fans can hate him because he’s a Dallas Star or because he has scored on them a couple of times or because he’s beautiful, but that hit doesn’t warrant it.

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