Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 12/17/13 at 11:11 AM ET
By Tom Murray,
News: The Boston Bruins Shawn Thornton gets a 15-game suspension for attacking the Pittsburgh Penguins Brooks Orpik.
Views: Good for Brendan Shanahan. In the days leading up to Friday’s hearing and Saturday’s decision, the conventional wisdom was that Thornton would get anywhere from eight to 10 games. The 15 he received is appropriate for what he did, which was not, as Shanahan stated, “a hockey play that went bad, nor do we consider this a spontaneous reaction to an incident that just occurred.”
But it all raises an obvious question: Why did Orpik’s teammate James Neal get only five games for his knee to the head of Brad Marchand in the same game? Like Thornton’s act, Neal’s was also vicious, premeditated and could have ended horribly. Keep in mind that Neal had been suspended twice before; Thornton’s suspension slate was clean. The fact that Marchand was uninjured and returned to play in the game shouldn’t have been taken into account any more than the news that Orpik--carried off the ice on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital--recovered in time to join his teammates on their return to Pittsburgh after the game.
Both acts were heinous and inexcusable and both players should have received punishments that were commensurate with their actions. Thornton was the only one who did.
News: P.K. Subban not a shoo-in for the Canadian Olympic team.
Views: Huh? Really? This nonsense is truly hard to believe. Has any incumbent Norris Trophy winner ever gotten less respect than this guy? As of this writing he’s second only to Duncan Keith in scoring among Canadian defensemen, has participated in two World Junior championships (and won two gold medals) and as a player for the OHL’s Belleville Bulls played a ton of games on an Olympic-sized ice surface.
Does he make mistakes from time to time? Undeniably. Who doesn’t? And PK’s up side is off the charts, even if he was brought to Sochi to participate only when the Canadians are on the power play.
And yet there was a commentator on CBC a week or so ago, predicting that seven defenseman were veritable locks: Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber and the pairings of Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis) and Dan Boyle and Marc Edouard Vlasic (San Jose). Which meant that P.K. was just one of 10 defenseman who were on the outside, all vying for that eighth spot, a list that included players like Marc Staal, Mike Green, Dion Phaneuf, Kris Letang and Karl Alzner.
None of these guys are playing even close to Subban’s level this season.
What is it about this kid that bothers everyone so much in his home country? You don’t hear this criticism from pundits in the United States, only in Canada, where hockey players are revered for their humility and--in the case of Subban, it appears--vilified for exuding confidence, even brashness. Of course, those qualities are precisely what make him the terrific player he is.
Impossible to believe that P.K. won’t be on the roster when it is finalized. But we’ll have to put up with the nonsense until it is.
News: New York Rangers finally win a game at Madison Square Garden.
Views: Break ‘em up! No, seriously, Sunday’s night’s 4-3 shootout win over Calgary was one the boys in blue had to have. In the exact middle of a 9-game homestand, they were 0-3-1 in their last four games, had been outscored 16-7 in those games and were an abysmal 1-7-1 in their last 9 games at MSG.
But the biggest concern was goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The bedrock of the team, their best player for the last 8 years, the guy who could always be relied upon to make a big save as he time and again covered up for his team’s lack of scoring punch has been far less than his usual sensational self this season: A 9-14-1 record going into Sunday night’s game, along with a very pedestrian .910 save percentage. And of course he finally just signed that long-awaited boffo 8-year $60 million contract extension. Pressure? What pressure?
Like most Rangers outings this season, the game was an excruciating three-act (period) saga. The first period (act) was a familiar and wrenching replay of maddening mediocrity: No intensity on the ice, no life in the building and a 2-0 first period lead for the Flames after just 8 shots on Lundqvist.
But then two rallies! From deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force overtime and, eventually, a much-needed win in a 7-round shootout.
When it was finally, mercifully over, Lundqvist spread his arms wide and raised up his head and stick. Ah, sweet victory! And as any Ranger fan can attest, Hank’s ebullient gesture also meant the pain could stop. If only for a little while. No experienced Ranger fan would ever predict for how long. It is a day-by-day proposition for all of them.
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