Thrashers and Leafs Play 1980s NHL Hockey
The Thrashers - Maple Leafs game last night was like getting in a time machine and watching a game from the late 1980s. There were multiple end-to-end rushes. A stand up goaltender. Some bad goals, some spectacular "oh my god, how did he keep that out of the net" saves. Defensemen pinching up to join the rush and odd man breaks throughout the game. The outcome see-sawed back and forth until the very end when it was decided by the final shooter in the shoot out. If every hockey game was this much fun to watch they could double the price of tickets and still sell out the place. It felt like my heart was in my throat the whole game.
- Hedberg gave a weak goal to Hall Gill of all people, but was just sensational at other times including the last two minutes of regulation and during the shootout when he shut down Sundin.
- The Toronto goal that tied the game should not have been goal. I replayed the overhead camera shot in slow motion several times. You can clearly see the puck is up against his leg pad, Hedberg puts his glove over top of the puck, pause, then the stick of the Toronto players comes in and smacks against the glove dislodging the puck and sending it under his leg pad and into the back of the net. There should have been a whistle. Hedberg had every reason to be furious with the referee.
- Ilya Kovalchuk continues to play the best hockey of his career. He was a force virtually every shift and the announcers were audibly fearful when he carried the puck into the offensive zone. Again, it is shame but nobody will notice how much better he is this season until the team starts winning. (Full disclosure: in the past I've always felt that Kovalchuk's poor defense would prevent him from becoming a MVP type of player but he is changing my mind this year.)
- Tobias Enstrom also won praise from the announcers but I hate the fact that everyone is starting to call him "Toby" because I think "Tobias" sounds cooler. Borje Salming went by his real first name even though it was unusual to most English speakers, why can't they just call him Tobias? Getting back to the game, Enstrom had his first NHL goal off a nice drop pass from Ilya Kovalchuk. Enstrom joined the rush and was able to exploit the open ice created when the Maple Leaf defenders chased Kovalchuk down low.
- Many Thrasher fans complain about bad calls and the tendency of this team to give up goals in the final minute of the period, but Atlanta was on the favorable side of that at the end of the 1st period as the linesman missed an icing and Kovalchuk scored to make it 2-1 in the final minute of that period.
- Speaking of the referees it was throwback night for them too--back to the old days where lots of things were missed. In the third period they let go both a trip and an interference penalty (even the Leafs announcers commented on one of them) but they called Jason Blake for a phantom hook. On the replay it looked like he never even applied any pressure to the Thrasher player.
- I thought Sterling had his best game as a Thrasher even if he didn't score. He was very involved in winning battles along the boards and was going hard to the net when he had a chance.
- Another rookie Bryan Little dished out over 50 tickets to friends and family and he was playing very hard all night as well.