Some Random thoughts on the Minnesota Wild and the NHL in general:
-After a 4 game win streak, the Wild lost 3 straight. They have now come back to win the last two behind the goaltending of Anton Khudobin. One has to wonder how many of those 3 losses would have been wins if Theodore had not been playing hurt or if the coaches had shown more confidence in Khudobin.
-Calgary has traditionally been a rough place for the Wild to play, but the last two seasons that has changed. A big reason for that change has been Marty Havlat. The Wild will need a big game from him tonight. Niklas Backstrom returns to the lineup for the 1st time since his injury. The former Vezina finalist has been flat out amazing at times this season, but he has also had some struggles. Hopefully he can get into a groove early and get his confidence up.
Crosby, cowardly referees, & crappy journalism after the jump.
-Tom Kostopoulos will be out of the lineup for the Flames tonight due to his 6 game suspension for the hit that broke Brad Stuart’s jaw. There is some debate as to whether that punishment was too severe, but I for one am glad he won’t be gracing the ice tonight with his undisciplined and thuggish play. In the game back on Dec 18 in Calgary he injured Nick Schultz with an elbow to the head, gave Marek Zidlicky an elbow to the head, and stomped on Cal Clutterbuck’s stick prior to a faceoff. And yet he somehow managed to only get one tripping penalty in the game.
-Speaking of referees, what a joke the officiating was in Edmonton last night. I could complain about the lopsided way penalties were handed out, 2nd straight time that has happened in Edmonton, but I won’t. I will save my vitriol for two very specific events. With 12 minutes gone in the 3rd, and the Wild up 3-0 Theo Peckham crosschecks Havlat several times while he is on the ice. The coward of a referee just watches and does nothing. Havlat finally retaliates, and once again, the coward of a referee does nothing. Now, if the ref calls the cross check, or even if he waits and calls both men for coincidental minors the situation ends. But instead it continues. Havlat and Peckham continue going at it, two more players get involved and it ends with Brent Burns and Zack Stortini in a one-way “fight” where the referees watch Stortini hit Burns and refuse to stop it, despite Burns never dropping his gloves. And all of this happens because a coward won’t call a penalty right in front of his face. Courtesy of the Star Tribunes Michael Russo, here is Bob Kurtz’s call of the situation. Needless to say I was yelling something quite similar, albeit more colorful.
-But, it gets better. Two short minutes later Ladislav Smid decides to skate in and hits a Wild player after an icing call. He justifiably gets a game misconduct, but the Wild don’t get a powerplay out of it. Given the score I could have let that go, but 90 seconds later Brad Staubitz gets an instigator penalty for fighting which hands Edmonton a powerplay and allows them to break up the shutout. I would love for someone to explain to me how what Staubitz did was deserving of a powerplay but what Smid did was not. Staubitz was sticking up for a teammate during the course of a play. Smid came in after a dead play on an icing call of all things. Call it both ways, cowards.
-There was a big Sid Crosby hate fest yesterday due to a report that he would skip the All-Star Game in protest of head injuries not being taken seriously. But I called it early on, pointing out David Shoalts’ history of reporting with unnamed “sources.” It didn’t take long for him to backtrack and declare it an “opinion.” In a world where too many journalists are more concerned with creating a controversy and making a name for themselves than telling the truth, Shoalts might be one of the biggest offenders. It has become clear he cares more about getting the scoop than getting it right. I may only be a blogger in the middle of the middle-west, but I know enough about reporting to know that if you are going to break a story like that you better get someone on the record. For the record, I think Puck-daddy nailed it when he said that the story was the protest and that Sid has no desire to skip the All-Star game. So if the story was a plant to bring attention to the issue with no desire to actually follow through, Mr. Shoalts might ask himself why he was the mark.
-Good luck to the Wild tonight.
Tags: Andrew Brunette Bob Kurtz Brad Staubitz Brent Burns Cal Clutterbuck David Shoalts Edmonton Oilers Jose Theodore Kyle Brodziak Ladislav Smid Marek Zidlicky Martin Havlat Minnesota Wild NHL Nick Schultz Niklas Backstrom Referees Sidney Crosby Theo Peckham Todd Richards Tom Kostopoulos