Rick Tocchet had had just about enough of the crap outta his team. He benched Jeff Halpern. He benched Alex Tanguay. He was going to dress eight defensemen against the Predators. He was sending a message.
The message, from what I could glean from their allowing Nashville to pop in seven tonight, was that Rick Tocchet is coaching a team that has managed itself into such a terrible situation that they couldn’t beat anyone no matter who he benched or how many defensemen he dressed. Even with eight freaking defensemen on the line chart tonight, the problem was that these were eight defensemen that play for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which immediately puts anyone behind the eight ball.
Have a look at the stats tonight and you tell me who even approached having a good night from the blue line. Matthias Ohlund: 23:48, one assist, minus-2. Lukas Krajicek, fresh off clearing waivers because no one wants him on their team: 16:08, minus-2. Kurtis Foster: 14:16 one goal and one assist, minus-1. Matt Walker: 16:54, minus-2. Andrej Meszaros: 21:42, one assist, minus-1. David Hale: 10:20, minus-1. Matt Smaby: 12:29, minus-1. Viktor Hedman: 13:23, minus-2.
Kurtis Foster had two points in 14:16 and still finished a minus. In fact, there being eight of them instead of just six probably saved a few of them from finishing minus-4. Only four Preds didn’t pick up at least a point in the game.
And poor Mike Smith took the loss tonight despite Antero Niittymaki getting the start and giving up four on 14 shots. ‘Course, Smith gave up three on 13 so maybe that’s fair enough too.
But to really underscore what a fundamentally broken team this is, look at the big night by Vinny Lecavalier. Two goals and an assist despite being saddled with, and I swear I’m not making this up, Steve Downie and Paul Szczechura, neither of whom managed a point but were fortunate enough to be the only other Bolts to not end up a minus.
So they’ve got that going for them. Good building block there.
Pittsburgh 6, Philadelphia 1
Sid Crosby a buncha points blahblahblah. Listen, there were three fights in 15 seconds in the first period. Mike Rupp and Arron Asham, Eric Godard and Riley Cote, Craig Adams and Danny Carcillo. Maybe these two should play at Fenway. They at least made this blowout entertaining.
St. Louis 4, Calgary 3
The Flames gave up four goals to the worst offensive club in the league. A lot of that had to do with starting Curtis McElhinney, who is awful and really shouldn’t even be in the NHL except he’s like 30 and too old to play in the AHL since it would be developmentally detrimental to future NHL backup Leland Irving, who is currently a mediocre starter for Abbotsford. And thus ends my fascinating look into the politics of the Flames’ backup goaltending position.
Minnesota 2, Columbus 1
Just another super-exciting win in St. Paul, I’m sure. Columbus has only won four of the last 13. Score!
Washington 6, Colorado 1
Pretty great game here if you like seeing Colorado lose so that you will be proven right about what a flash in the pan they are. Fortunately for me, I like seeing that kind of thing very much. Also David Koci ran Mike Green from behind and he might just get suspended for it, while Alex Ovechkin went knee-to-knee with someone again but nothing will come of it because a. the guy got up immediately (this being a big determining factor apparently) and b. he is Alex Ovechkin and he’s been suspended enough for one season thanks.
Los Angeles 3, Edmonton 2
People will now continue to go around acting like LA is one of the best teams in the West. They’re not. Their goals allowed per game is 19th in the league, just .02 goals per game ahead of the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning.