The hockey season has produced its share of crazy and unexpected events. From the outrageous moneylines of the past few weeks to Johnny Gaudreau scoring six points on Tuesday night, the season has been far from dull. Just when one thinks it could not get any crazier, then there were the events that wend down last night.
Two ejected in Vancouver
During the game between the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers, there was not just one player ejected, but two. Furthermore, it happened within five minutes of each other. Chris Kreider and Brendan Lemieux were tossed from the game. As a result, Vancouver was given a five-minute power play from the major and misconduct, where the Canucks converted during the major.
The Lemieux “match penalty” occurred during the play where another Vancouver goal was scored. That was Tyler Motte’s second goal which made it 3-0 and ended the competitive part of the contest. Now, this is where the debate begins as to whether the penalty was justified.
When looking back, Chris Kreider’s elbowing major looked far worse when slowed down, as opposed to the actually event which occurred at full speed. The actual offense was almost overlooked at first as it was not the focal point of the play. Maybe, it was the camera angle. After looking at the first replay, it was clear just how dangerous the Kreider hit was. Elias Pettersson wound up going through concussion protocol. Fortunately, he was okay and was able to return to the game.
Going back to the Lemieux play. This is where things get dicey. There was the injury to Antoine Roussel which was unfortunate. The fact that the Rangers’ forward was given the gate was unexpected. Originally, the call was “head-butting”. However, that did not appear to be the case, and although the Roussel injury was bad, it was not the direct result of anything malicious. It’s hard to believe that many will be surprised when the match penalty is ultimately rescinded.
The near five goal comeback
Alas, the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled mightily but figured to have a good matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. Toronto was a -245 moneyline favorite after all. However, few could have expected the start or the finish of this game. Chicago scored the first five goals, four of which came in the first period. The match looked like a mere formality after that, until the unthinkable happened.
After the second period, Corey Crawford had to leave the game after succumbing to illness. Briefly, there were concerns of something more sinister, but the flu had made Crawford too sick to continue. Conor Delia entered the game with the score 5-1 Chicago heading into the third period. At this point Toronto began to rally as they put three goals in and nearly tied the game as Delia “accidentally on purpose” moved the goalpost off its moorings. It turned out to be a smart move as Chicago (a +200 underdog) held on to win. Toronto fired 29 shots on goal during the final 20 minutes alone.
New Jersey’s bounce back night
Again, the New Jersey Devils came off a drubbing of the worst kind at the hands of the Calgary Flames. Johnny Gaudreau scored three times and dished out three assists in a wild 9-4 win on Tuesday night. This was a game where New Jersey led 4-3 after 40 minutes.
The Devils jumped out to a lead again early on Wednesday, but Edmonton struck back twice before Travis Zajac added a late period powerplay goal. After the first twenty minutes, New Jersey took advantage as unexpected goal scoring abounded. John Quenneville and Kevin Rooney unexpectedly putting in a goal each. After Edmonton cut the deficit to 5-3, Blake Coleman provided the dagger with a short-handed goal off a blatant Oilers mistake.
The Devils winning as considerable underdogs capped of a night of oddities and sheer entertainment as each game seemed to one-up each other in their own ways. And to think, it was only a three-game slate. Let that sink in.
By Chris Wassel