It was a good hockey day yesterday. Was able to catch the most of the Slovakia/Finland game and the Canada/Sweden game yesterday afternoon at the Worlds. Plus, later that night I caught a good portion of the San Jose' Sharks/LA Kings playoff matchup.
A few things about the IIHF games:
--Jhonas Enroth was stout in net for Team Sweden, and as shown when he stifled Canada's Steven Stamkos on a breakaway, he's tough to beat mano-y-mano. Therefore the shootout win. He's done that in Buffalo often over the last couple of seasons with the Sabres. Gotta love his competitive fire.
--Former Sabres' head coach Lindy Ruff was behind the bench for Team Canada. They played a tight defensive game, clogging up the neutral zone and generally playing a cautious game. Enroth's stop on Stamkos was a game-changer as Team Canada could have gone up 2-0 had he connected. Kinda sounds familiar to Sabres fans.
--Team Canada goalie Mike Smith played a solid game. Should the Sabres end up trading Ryan Miller, Smith may be a viable alternative in net. He's coming off a contract that paid him $2M last season. Smith is a solid goalie who has kicked up his game in the playoffs. There are signs of a Tim Thomas like future ahead of him should he land on a Cup-quality team. Wouldn't mind tandem of Enroth and Smith heading into 2013-14. Might be pretty solid. And it won't break the bank either.
--Andrej Sekera scored Slovakia's second goal last night to help them claw back from a 3-0 deficit vs. Finland. The Sabres' defensman playing for his homeland team moved to the center of the ice on the play and blasted a rising shot through a crowd from near the blueline. With a much larger ice-surface in international play, Sekera had plenty of room to skate all through the game. There's a marked difference between his international game and the one he plays on a smaller NHL rink. Which isn't good for the Sabres.
While watching the Sharks/Kings game last night, I couldn't help but notice the smaller ice surface in the NHL and was left to wonder why the biggest players in the world play on a smaller rink.
If the NHL really wanted to improve the game they'd make the ice-surfact bigger. Right?
Of course that would mean hundreds of high dollar seats eliminated and no owner would want that.
Perhaps Commish Gary Bettman and Co. should devise a plan to widen the rinks in the future. Maybe they could use that as a premise for the next lockout when the owners will want to add more to their share of hockey related revenue.
The Kings are a team that knows how to navigate a smaller ice surface, know how to play the North American game, have oodles of talent and sandpaper and are the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Sharks had them on the hook last night, but two penalties late in the game allowed the Kings to pull out a victory.
Los Angeles looks primed to hoist the Cup once again.
They're hitting their stride having won six in a row and look very tough to beat.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs blew a three-goal lead in Game-7 at Boston, the anguish that Leafs fans felt should not be wished upon anyone.
if it's gonna happen to any team and fan-base, gotta love that it happened to Toronto (with Vancouver being a very close second.)
Speaking of the Maple Leafs collapse, forward Joffery Lupul was quoted as saying, "that hockey game will haunt me until the day I die."
Karma's a bitch there, Jof.
Better heed the warning signs, buddy. If you screw up in this life, Satan has it all lined up for you in hell: locked in a hotel room in Buffalo with a continuous loop of your Leafs' third period/overtime, Game-7 collapse.