Saturday, April 21, 2007

Game o' the Day

If you are a fan of goaltenders, and The Peerless certainly is, then tonight's Vancouver - Dallas game will be right up your alley.

Eric McErlain describes the Turco/Luongo war in detail over at The Fanhouse, but The Peerless notes two subtle things to look for in the duel. First, the first to score wins. That's not exactly a bulletin in a series marked by four straight games with fewer than three total goals scored. But the fact is, in four of the five games, first to score wins. Second, watch the pattern of goals. So far, Roberto Luongo has given up, by period: 2-3-3-1 goals. Marty Turco: 1-2-4-2. The differences are not significant, but Luongo has been just the slighest bit more effective (or, just as reasonably, Dallas has been less effective offensively) late.

Wait a minute, Peerless . . . hold on with that last one. You might want to look at those numbers more closely.

Well, by Sawchuk, you have a point . . . if you compare thse two and their save percentages by period . . .

1st period: Luongo: .959/Turco: .979
2nd period: Luongo: .944/Turco: .951
3rd period: Luongo: .923/Turco: .922

In regulation, Turco has been the more efficient -- ever so slightly -- of the two (.950 to .944 overall). That Vancouver has a lead in this series is a product of having scored two goals in overtime to one for Dallas. It is the only difference in the goaltending worth noting.

This really is, as Eric put it, "a showdown for the ages."

Western Union...

Hey, if a lion is sleeping, do you walk up to it and poke it with a stick?

Oh, sorry…Tampa was “sending a message” at the end of the game last night in New Jersey.

Down 2-0 with the clock winding under two minutes to go, and the net empty, the Lighting watched as Scott Gomez scored an empty-net goal. Then, the fun started.

It wasn’t an especially chippy game as these things go, with clubs getting more familiar (and annoyed) with each other in a playoff series – a total of six minor penalties had been called in the game. Then, with Andre Roy trying to start something, anything, to “send the message,” he ended up scrapping with Michael Rupp. Roy got a game misconduct added for his trouble (maybe the league will send him a message).

The boys weren’t done yet sending their message. Nolan Pratt and Jamie Langenbrunner added to their scoresheet entries with a fighting major apiece. Ryan Craig got a roughing and a misconduct. The officials evened up the latter with a misconduct to Erik Rasmussen. But by that time, the message had been sent. Ooops…maybe not. Devil assistant John MacLean and Lighting coach John Tortorella engaged in a wonderful one act play in mime, making a series of menacing gestures at one another. Lou Lamoriello looked on with a beatific expression on his face – if your idea of “beatific” is this guy…

Who, come to think of it, sorta looks like Lou, just with more hair...

OK, Jersey had a message for the Lightning, too. We’re done with the preliminaries. In what amounted to the first in a best-of-three, Martin Brodeur showed up. 31 shots faced, 31 shots turned away. How's that for a message?

One had the feeling watching what unfolded in the last two minutes of the game that Tampa was less “sending a message” than expressing a very large measure of frustration. Trouble is, you poke the lion with that stick the consequences are not likely to be pleasant.

And speaking of messages . . . what was the one sent to Ruslan Fedotenko? He was given a sweater and a seat on the bench. That was the extent of his participation, having logged a conspicuous 0:00 in ice time. The message might be, “wise up, Ruslan,” but The Peerless thinks it really is, “I’m just a big honking asshole.”

The teams go again, tomorrow. The Peerless will be surprised if the game finishes with Tampa within three goals of Jersey.

Welcome to the club...

Islanders defenceman Sean Hill was hit with a 20-game suspension by the NHL on Friday - just hours before New York was eliminated from the playoffs - for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances program.

That was the lede in a wire story report on the news of the suspension of Sean Hill for violation of the league's "performance enhancing" substances program.

The Peerless is wondering -- as he is sure others are -- who's performance was enhanced as a result? Surely not the Islanders, who lost that elimination game after falling into a 3-0 hole half-way through the contest. And one would think that if Hill wasn't dressed, he'd have no performance to "enhance." It didn't help Drew Fata, the unfortunate replacement for Hill, who was a minus-2 in his six minutes of effort.

Well, maybe the enhancement provided just enough enhancement to his performance to permit the Islanders, who won their last four games to sneak into the eighth spot in the East (although Hill was a -1 combined in those four games, with no points, in averaging more than 18-and-a-half minutes a game).

The nature of the violation was not disclosed, but whatever...Hill is the first player suspended under the league's program. His 20-game suspension will carry into next year, but as the wire stories report, where that will be is uncertain. He is an unrestricted free agent.

A 36-year-old defenseman with 19 games of a suspension to serve. Will there be takers?

We're betting there will be, and that'll be a first, too.

Congratulations, NHL. Welcome to the're an official modern professional sports league.