I admittedly have one weakness that prevents me from being a truly crazy hockey fan, and that is the fact that I tend to ignore things that don't directly impact the Caps. It's something I've struggled with all my life. When I was younger, I doubt that I could have named three players who weren't in the Patrick Division, let alone three who played in the Campbell Conference. While I'm not that bad anymore, I still have this tendency to be blissfully unaware of anything going on in the Western Conference.
It's how I managed to miss the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues are starting to play real hockey. Sure, I'd seen the scores recently and filed them somewhere in the back of my mind...right next to other important information like the lyrics to "Baby Got Back" and the names of all 50 states in alphabetical order.
But with the Caps (thankfully) off tonight and no semblance of a life to get in the way, I tuned in to watch Chicago take on St. Louis on Versus. I'll admit it, I originally turned the game on for two reasons. 1: I was hoping to catch Ovie and Ted's new ad (I didn't...although I did catch about 700 Enzyte commercials, which have to hold some sort of record for visual and verbal double entendres in a 30-second span); and 2: I wanted to see how our old pal Peter Bondra is doing in the Windy City.
It turned out to be a pretty entertaining game.
- Bonzai looked great, as if not a day had passed. He didn't seem to be on the ice a whole lot, but when he was he had the same speed and edge to his game that I remember from his days here in DC. He capped off the night with the game-winning goal, the 501st of his career.
- There should be no doubt that Keith Tkachuk is back to his old form this season. He was everywhere tonight and scored the lone Blues goal, a tally that held up until almost halfway through the third period.
- Apparently my Caps blinders also prevented me from seeing Martin Havlat for the incredible talent that he is. He has to be one of the fastest skaters in the league, going from 0 to 60 with power that's reminiscent of Ovechkin. It's really exciting to watch him skate - I found myself leaning forward everytime he had the puck...something I usually reserve for our own #8.
- I have to apologize to Khabibulin for implying that he didn't deserve to be on the All-Star ballot this year. I was clearly blinded by the numbers which had to have been impacted by Chicago's overall poor play to start the season, because he was pretty close to spectacular tonight and kept the Blackhawks in the game long enough for them to find their offense.
- If the league wants to improve viewership of hockey games, they should keep guys like Bill Guerin mic'd up all the time. He's got to be one of the more entertaining players out there right now.
- I really like Manny Legace, but the guy deserves an Oscar for his little acting performance after Bondra crashed into the net. Legace went down like a sack of potatoes from what I can only assume was a strong gust of wind, because there was no contact - if anything it was Peter's head contacting the goalpost.
- The St. Louis arena is reminiscent of the Phone Booth here in DC - lots of empty seats, cheering only when prompted, and a Horn Guy (who wishes he could be as good as the one we've got). There was also a secondary horn guy who sounded like a mix between a dying duck and a moose in heat...a very disturbing sound to say the least.
- Give the Blues credit for completely dominating the first period and a half, clinging to a 1-0 score for almost 45 minutes before Havlat tied it up. Give the Blackhawks credit for not giving up and really taking control in the final period, putting 3 goals up in just over 3 minutes to win it.
- Other assorted goodies:
- The Penguins beat the Hurricanes 3-0 tonight, with Sidney Crosby getting 2 goals...and the requisite secondary assist.
- Peter Forsberg left the Flyers-Islanders game with an injury. Again. Will somebody please just wrap him in bubble wrap already?? Amazingly, the Flyers pulled off a win anyway, their first without Foppa on the ice and their third straight after dropping their last 11.
- Montreal downed Tampa Bay 5-2 and Atlanta fell to the Wild 5-1. Nothing particularly noteworthy in either game, at least that I know of...the results just make me happy :)