Kozlov vs. Mason - GOAL - 1-0 ATL
Radulov vs. Brathwaite - SAVE - 0-1 ATL
Kovalchuk vs. Mason - SAVE - 1-0 ATL
Kariya vs. Brathwaite - GOAL - 1-1 NSH
Metropolit vs. Mason - SAVE - 1-1 NSH
Erat vs. Brathwaite - SAVE - 1-1 NSH
Sim vs. Mason - GOAL - 2-1 ATL
Dumont vs. Brathwaite - SAVE - 2-1 ATL Wins in the shootout.
Always good to hear hockey after a break of a few days, so last night's game was a welcome diversion. People often get too hung up on how things go in exhibition games, so the end result doesn't really bother me even when you lose. People have to remember, in general, home teams have huge advantages in these meaningless games, because of the fact teams want to show their fans the best team they can put on the ice.
A few observations, first on the game presentation;
..the pregame call in show. "michigan". one of those guys who has to call in at every opportunity to share his "hockey knowledge" with us southerners. he's right on top of things, saying "he's looking forward to seeing the tootoo-stevenson-hordy line this year.". followed by the great "how is signing mason going to affect finley's status this year". please, stop the insanity, quit taking call ins for either the pre or post game segments. just talk intelligent hockey.
..willy really dissappointed me here last night too, telling michigan he didn't know finley was not a pred either until "weeks later".. come on willy, at least act like you're staying on top of things so it doesn't discourage us hard core fans. willy capped that one off though by then telling about yonkman being sent down thru waivers, and henry going on the IR, by saying well this allows Klein and Zanon to "relax and not worry about making the team anymore"... HELLO willy, what about the fact that lehtonen is still in the mix and neither of them's job is safe at all yet?!.. come on, you're running the pre-game show and you HAVE to know little things like this. jeezus, for some reason this really bothered me
...Eli had a much better game.. you could tell he was becoming far more familiar with the players, and far more comfortable describing the action. one thing that i liked that he did, was to simply simplify his call of the play. much better job of identifying pred players involved in the action. "bodywork" as an acronym for checking in hockey is something i'll have to get used to i guess, and there were a few other brief football relapses ("substitions" instead of saying they were changing liines, and a "timeout" that sort of threw me once or twice). much better on following the flow of the play from zone to zone however. i think we're all really going to like this guy before it's all over.
now as to the game itself, i'll keep it short....
...have no clear idea what happened that first period. 2 shots? dominated in the faceoff circle (winning only 5 of 17). sounded like we couldn't mount any attack at all thru the neutral zone, couldn't carry the puck into the zone in any form or fashion. i think the basic answer is simple. if we have vasicek, fiddler, ncihol and smithson as your four centers on ice, well you are going to have difficulty offensively some nights.
...one thing that happened there during that first period, is that we were outshot 7 to 2. what makes this unusual is now thru a total of 15 periods of exhibition hockey (16 counting the overtime), this is the only time we've been outshot in any given period so far. to me this is an amazing thing for a team where we're all afraid might give up tons of shots this year with this young defense. strange goings on here, hopefully it is something that we carry over into the season. but we have to stop and ask why is this happening?. is it that the young defense is tougher and not allowing teams to cycle the puck down low and keep puck possession?.is it the fact our offense is that much better at puck control and holding onto the puck it gives our defense that much of a break? is it the fact we are gettting better at avoiding the penalty box as much? is it the fact that it's just exhibition season and we don't know anything for real yet because teams aren't icing their best offensive players?.. probably all of the above, with leaning toward we don't know what we're quite seeing yet, but it is very encouraging. if we limit teams to 25 shots a game average this year instead of the 30 plus last year, i do know this could be a scary good team.
...now, allowing a team to score in the last seconds of regualtion to tie a game you should have won. well that sucks and is not something really good teams can allow often. and to top that off they almost do it again at the end of the overtime. i sure would have liked to have seen that sim goal to know what happened.
...an awful timed penalty zanon took to set that last tieing goal up. lehtonen on ice for both of the first two goals we gave up, both of which had defensive breakdown sound all over them, not sure if it was him on either one from a radio report of course, but he was out there on both.
...that second ATL goal was one of those you really hate that you see so often. you're on a pp, and go all out to score as time is running out (according to the official play-by-play, it was lehtonen who hits a post, not upshall as it sounded like on the radio), and they come down as soon as the pp fails and score a goal, catching you changing or at least in transition immediately after a failed pp.
...it's these type of lessons that you hope a team learns in the pre-season. the dangers of giving up a goal on the shift after a pp, the danger of the last few seconds of a period or game when the other team is wildly scrambling. this is exactly what you hope someone learns to carry forward when it means something.
...we stunk up the joint in the faceoff dot last night when it was really important. only 6 for 20 in draws in our defensive end. those type of numbers back there will get you in trouble
...hamhuis sounded like he showed up in mid-season form didn't he?, two frigging goals and 27:40 of ice time. welcome to camp hamhuis. kariya also seems to be clicking on all cylinders.
...not sure any of the decisions about these final cuts was helped last night. radulov "sounded" ok, kariya really bragging on the pass from him. klein, "sounded" strong on the pk. zanon "sounded" ok right up to that penalty. lehtonen i simply don't know. tonight is the night where those decisions will in effect be made
well enough "analysis" of a meaningless game on the radio and from the scoresheet, looking forward to tonight.