Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Like I said, magic

As most Portland fans know, I have already declared four to be the Winterhawks’ magic number. By and large, they have proven it this weekend. Whether they are at NHL training camps or back with the team, it worked like a charm. What does it all mean? Not sure, maybe nothing, but if you were a Winterhawk in a hockey game this weekend and the number four or a derivative thereof was involved, it’s a good bet there was a victory.

Fore!: Forward Taylor Peters returned from the Minnesota Wild’s training camp on Friday, following his participation in a winning game against the Blues on Thursday. He then played three back-to-back winning games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, making it three victories in four nights. And three out of four in back to back games after a plane ride ain’t bad. Still don’t believe it’s magic? Check this out:

First they did this: As he did on Friday, Taylor opened Portland’s scoring in a Sunday game against the Tri-City Americans, just when all hope seemed to be lost. Going into the second period, the Tri-City Americans were up 5-0 and Connor Rankin had already notched a natural hat trick. Taylor came off the bench, and pretty much into the goal, and with a little help from William Wrenn he cut the score to a four goal difference: 5- 1. It was shorthanded to boot.

Then this happened: About two minutes later, with a little help from Ty Rattie, Brad Ross put one home, cutting the lead to 5-2. Which means that both goals were scored by and with a little help from four NHL draftees/prospects.

And this: The team went on to score four goals in the second period, cutting the lead to 6-4 going into the third period. In addition to his assist, Ty Rattie went on to score two goals in the second period. He scored the team’s third and fourth goals, the latter of which was also his fourth goal in two nights (he returned from St. Louis Blues’ training camp on Friday, just in time to score in a road game against the Seattle Thunderbirds). Pay attention now: that’s three points in one game through two periods for Ty Rattie, and then:

They did this: Taylor scored 1:30 minutes into the third period, cutting the lead to 6-5. But alas, the Tri-City Americans would hold on for the 6-5 win, but not without a final minute of valiant effort from Derrick Pouliot and teammates to try and close the gap and send the game to overtime.  I had visions of Game 2 in the WHL Championship series. But then again, that game, though it was a loss for the Winterhawks, is still one of the great sports moments in my book. So was tonight.

Here comes the future: On Saturday night, defenseman Derrick Pouliot, a top prospect for the 2012 draft, racked up four assists. He’s affectionately known by fans and teammates as Poo or Pooh. But after Saturday, I think several of us in the blogging community have decided “sir” will make a better nickname. Get ready, NHL draft watchers. If he did this in one night in the pre-season, imagine what he’ll do this season. And just so you know, the proper pronunciation of his last name is poo-lee-aht. Not poo-yo.

Meanwhile in the NHL, there’s plenty of magic going on in the big time:

1) Saturday afternoon, Joe Morrow scored his first NHL goal in the second period of the game against the Minnesota Wild. It was the first of four power play goals the Penguins would go on to score. You can hear what he had to say about it here.

2) Also on Saturday, the Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils by a four goal difference for a final score of 6-2. Alas, Nino Niederreiter didn’t get in on the scoring nor did he get any shots, but he did get 15:25 TOI.  Odd not to see him on the scoresheet, but I have a feeling we will have to get used that for a while. After all, it’s the NHL, not the WHL.

3) On the other hand, the fourth overall draft pick from 2010, Ryan Johansen, scored in the Blue Jackets game against the Sabres. The final score? Columbus 4, Buffalo 1. This is a bit unlike Ryan, but he did rack up a few penalties, including one for boarding and one for hooking. Total PIMs? Four.

4) Further East, the Boston Bruins dropped the Montreal Canadiens 7 -3. The Winterhawks are connected to the Bruins on several fronts. To name just a few: Cam Neely played on the 1983 Memorial Cup team and was rookie of the year, Andrew Ference played on the 1998 Memorial Cup team, scout Tom McVie, who recently brought the Cup to Portland, used to play for the Portland Buckaroos and draft pick Craig Cunningham played on the Vancouver Giants’ Memorial Cup winning team in his rookie year with Milan Lucic. Stats were hard to find on the NHL site, but it doesn’t look like any of our former players now on the Bruins’ roster scored. But I did find this: 4 - number of goals scored by the Bruins special-team units, with two coming on the powerplay and the other two, shorthanded.

Parting shots: I’m not really sure what all this means, but I do know that where the number four goes, the Portland Winterhawks winning follows. The best part of all is this is just one NHL pre-season weekend, and the first weekend of the WHL regular season. If this is what they did in the past four days, imagine what the rest of the season holds. Stay tuned, because no matter what the magic number is on any given night, something tells me this season is going to be magic, period.

 

 

 

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com