Despite the fact that the NCAA’s Frozen Four (and the full tournament itself) is technically hockey’s version of March Madness, it doesn’t generate the same amount of excitement. While many will argue that gambling plays a gigantic role in the huge popularity of the Final Four – and there’s no denying that, considering the widespread existence of office/family/friend/anyone with DNA pools – one of the other perks of watching those events is that you might catch the next professional basketball star in the making.
The World Junior Championships generate more passion and interest in part because they are a sneak preview of potential future NHL superstar talent. (The other big reason for the increased widespread interest comes from the natural competitiveness bred by patriotism and nationalism.)
Just watch that advertisement the IIHF and NHL Network has been running in which they spotlight two future Canadian stars (Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos), American stars (Zach Parise and Ryan Kesler) and two Russian stars (Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin). You’ll see the inherent awesomeness of this tournament in that 30 second clip, although it’s much more than that.
The Canada-U.S. game turned out to be a laugher, but the prospect-loaded lineups justified the excitement leading in. Check out our favorite goal of the game – and the night – which featured three first round picks from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. It began with a pass by Tampa Bay’s No. 6 overall pick Brett Connolly (brother of Buffalo Sabres center Tim) to Florida’s No. 25 pick Quinton Howden, who fired the puck past 11th pick and Dallas Stars prospect Jack Campbell to give Canada a 2-0 lead.
That ended up being the game winner and really crippled the will of a flat U.S. team. Check out video of the goal below.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.