Friday, 11 December 2015

St. John's IceCaps 1, Rochester Americans 3

Notes on the IceCaps 3-1 loss to the Rochester Americans.

--Lots of callups in Montréal (Andrighetto, Thomas, Carr, Hudon), so as the RDS boys point out, lots of offence, lots of goal scoring missing from the IceCaps' roster.

--The positive is the return to action of Michaël Bournival for his first game since last spring, and of Jacob de la Rose after a few weeks due to a lower body injury.

--Right off the bat, the Amerks get two minor penalties in quick succession, but the IceCaps can't convert the opportunity.  For a long while, the powerplay is static, keeping the puck on the periphery.  Parent-club disease?

--Are the refs working hard to even up the chances?  Now the IceCaps are in danger, with two minors taken on two successive shifts by Michael McCarron.  Best scoring chance on the second penalty was actually by Jacob de la Rose on a shorthanded breakaway.

--Patrick Kaleta up to his old tricks, desperately trying to get back to the NHL, picks a fight with Josiah Didier.  I was hoping that he'd bitten off more than he could chew, since Josiah is a huge beast.  There was a picture of him at the golf course a few summers back and he's massive, more than is conveyed by just his height and weight measurements.

When he was drafted, Josiah was described as being really big and strong and mobile, but his stats didn't really bear that out, not the way that a Stéphane Morin or a Jamie Oleksiak is big.  And especially when you compared him to Colin Sullivan, who was drafted a couple rounds later.  Why was Mr. Sullivan described mostly as a great skater when he's only listed as being 5-10 pounds lighter at most?  Well, seeing Josiah in street clothes explained why, he's all chest and shoulders and traps. 

It's kind of like at the World Cup of Hockey in 1996, during training camp, getting to see the players up close.  Based on listings in yearbooks, and seeing them on TV, I got the sense that Scott Niedermayer and Scott Stevens were kind of the same size, roughly, with the former being a little more mobile and the latter playing a little tougher.  But again, seeing them in person, you realize how ten pounds on paper, if that number is to be believed, can make a tremendous difference in person.  Scott Niedermayer was all lean and angular, and Scott Stevens was just a tree trunk, as movable as a fire hydrant.  

--So yeah, I rubbed my hands in glee, hoping that Josiah would consume the former Sabre rat, but it was a clear decision for the bad guy.  Josiah took some jersey shoves/jabs early to instigate the fight, and once the gloves came off, Patrick Kaleta landed all the punches, a lot of them.  Luckily they were all to the helmet, he had Josiah all off balance and all turned around the whole way.  You could hear the sound of his knuckles hitting plastic the whole time, over the hushed crowd.

Some college players get to the pros and can fight naturally, I remember Kent Carlson was a sensation in the early eighties when he came to camp and wiped the floor with a few tough guys on other teams.  George Parros, John Scott, there's a long list of them who never fought in the NCAA, but picked up the trade and built a career in the pros.

So that's another facet Josiah needs to polish up in the AHL, if he wants a shot at the NHL.

--Lots of big and strong Canadiens weren't great fighters.  Craig Ludwig, Mark Hunter, Gilbert Delorme, we had great hope that they'd be purveyors of Justice, but they struggled in that area.

I remember one game against the Nordiques when Gilbert Delorme finally got his hands on Dale Hunter and got him to drop the gloves, I was ready for The Rapture.  That slimemold knew that his days were numbered with the 'style' of hockey he played and all the dirty deeds he did, so he was famous for holding on to his stick and slashing and crosschecking at anyone who tried to get him to fight.  But now we had him.  Gilbert was going to rebalance the Universe.  The Archangel Gabriel was readying to blow his horn.

Crushingly, Dale Hunter kind of clutched and grabbed and jabbed and uppercutted a couple and mucked and wrestled and basically won the fight, although I'll never admit it and fight you if you ever dare bring this up again in my presence, the nerve of you.  There's no way that disgusting little shrimp won the fight.

Later, we read in the papers how, after practice the next day, Chris Nilan took Gilbert Delorme aside and gave him some pointers, kind of like Brandon Prust did with Gally and Chucky and P.K., but with more urgency.  This was a national crisis.  We'd spent a first round pick on Gilbert, and he'd come with reports that he didn't fight much in the LHJMQ, he was just too strong, no one wanted to take him on.  Now he's not able to take care, finally and forever, of Dale Hunter, when given the chance?  Fire Ronald Caron!

--Seeing the Amerks roster in action, and looking at their scoring totals so far, a lot of my Sabres anxiety is quelled.  Sure, they picked up a lot of prospects recently in the draft, who all had great writeups and bios, but a few of them got traded away, a few more are not setting the AHL afire.  We may survive this yet.

--Impressed with the play of Jacob de la Rose.  Last season in Montréal, despite all the praise he got for his defensive play, I was left wanting more.  Tonight, he seems like one of the best IceCaps, showing real leadership.  His #20 seems to be everywhere on the ice, having an effect on the game, aside from scoring the first goal of the game.

--The balance righted somewhat in the second period.  Rochester, outshot 22 to 4 in the first, turned the table and outshot St. John's 15-11.  1-1 after 2 periods.

--Have to admit, I snoozed during the third period.  The telecast format is a little hard to enjoy, with Michel Lacroix and Norman Flynn a little hard on the ears, even though they try their best calling the game off a feed from a remote studio, instead of being there and being able to see the ice and play develop.

And let's talk about this feed.  Some really rough camera work, panning ahead or behind the play, zooming in at the wrong moment and making you miss the action.  Replays that just show the original shot in slow-mo.  The image, while better than the first couple of times RDS broadcast a game, is still far from the crystal clear picture we're used to these HD days.

--So I woke up when they announced the winning goal by Rochester.  Too bad, I thought we were headed to overtime there, that the IceCaps would continue their regulation undefeated streak at home.

Woe.  But I didn't rewind to see what I'd missed, I'd had enough.  I watched to the end, and saw the empty-net goal to seal it.

--Promising return to action by Michaël Bournival, didn't detect any hesitation or skittishness, he played with speed and energy, was dangerous on offence.

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