Have two games I’d like to wrap up with our famed bullets, last night’s Hogs win over Chicago and this morning’s US-Russia game which I found surprisingly entertaining. First to our Piggies:
-One of the many things that I’ve been disappointed in being robbed of this lockout, and there may be hundreds, is getting to watch the growth of Brandon Saad firsthand. In reality, even just half a season in the A is probably better for Saad than being immediately chucked into the deepest part of the pool. But even from just a month ago you see a difference, as now Saad makes something happen on almost every shift. He did last night at least. As Chris Block has pointed out, the kid is unafraid to take the puck into high-traffic areas and work along the boards. That’s power forward stuff that you really can’t teach. He may get knocked around for a bit among the men of the NHL, but I doubt for long. Best player on the ice last night by some stretch, I thought. If there is a season, I don’t think there’s any doubt now he’s starting the season here and somewhere on the Top 6. I guess it’s been since Versteeg that we’ve had a rookie to get excited about, and Steeger kind of came out of nowhere. We’ve been waiting for Saad since he was drafted, and that’s one of the cooler things about being a fan of any sport, the youngster coming through the system.
-Nick Leddy was more assertive than we’ve seen him most of the time, and it makes a huge difference to the Hogs. Whether that translates to the big boy team or not, I have no idea.
-I’m sure Quenneville was in the stands last night, but I doubt having that vantage point would show him what we all see about a player like Brandon Bollig. Because Bollig single-handedly brought the Wolves back into the game last night. Though the score was only 2-1 at the time, his stupid, irrational, and unnecessary attacking of Archibald after a hit on Andrew Shaw that could not have been any cleaner gave the Wolves a double PP to tie a game that Rockford had well in hand. Especially when the Hogs’ PK is so helpless, it makes even less sense. Andrew Shaw doesn’t need a defender and he certainly doesn’t need one on a clean hit. But Bollig’s existence is based on doing these things, no matter how useless and pointless they actually are. It’s infuriating to watch on any level. But Q still operates with this neanderthal notion that a player like Bollig is needed. I can’t tell you how excited I am for the first night Q dresses Car Bomb, Shaw, and Bollig at the same time. McClure and Killion will have to take over for a while after that, because my head will have popped off and landed somewhere in the lake.
-With Kruger’s play going off a cliff in the past couple months, I once again call for Brandon Pirri to get a shot in whatever abbreviated camp is coming (if at all). But I know he won’t.
Right, to the US’s tight loss to the host Russians today. Very back and forth game, and a blast to watch. The one thing you notice with kids this age in this competition is that when the tide is against them, they try and turn it by making a big play instead of a smart one. Instead of just taking a good three or four shifts to get pucks out and deep and take the heat out, a lot of these guys want to beat three or four guys and score to stop it all at once. It leads to an even bigger crush, which leads to a more entertaining encounter but probably isn’t the way to go.
-I guess it’s no surprise that a Phil Housley coached team has a fire-drill feel among their blue-liners. Trouba and Jones especially play as if they’ve got a butane torch in their asshole. Jones is clearly going to be a monster one day, but his decision-making has a long path to travel before he isn’t an odd-man rush against waiting to happen.
-One guy I’ve been impressed with since I started watching U. of Minnesota is Mike Reilly. He thinks the game at an older age than he is, along with the skill. Real player here.
-Alex Galchenyuk has a bright future, but because he’s going to play in Montreal I expect him to be over-hyped by a factor of 12.
-Are the only two Canadians to not have a point so far Danault and McNeill?