Last nights victory against the very scrappy Columbus Blue Jackets was one of the oddest games I’ve ever seen. It is hands down the most bizarre sixty minutes of hockey in the NHL this season. Odd exchanges of penalties, including a horrific call against Derek Dorsett for “goaltender interference” that had neither the fiercest goaltender in the game nor his pugnacious teammates upset, and then laughable matching unsportsmanlike conducts to Pahlsson and Krejci. This game was another example of intrusive officiating. While I’d be hard pressed to find an example of diving in this game, the to put it politely “proactive officiating” only encourages embellishment further sapping the integrity that bleeds out a little more on each occurrence of the shootout.
The officiating isn’t the the main issue of the weak though, while just about any fan of the sport could rant about it for weeks, there’s a more pressing issue. The injury bug has reared its head again. Possibly for three players. Daniel Pialle was lost to a probable concussion as the gravitational field that is located just behind the bridge of his nose sucked in yet another object to cause him injury. The collision against the Panthers was just one game after he went face to face with Malkin, and less than a month after having a shot crush his shield and brake his nose. That’s the first one. That’s scary enough, we’ve seen what concussions have done to Bergeron, Savard and others.
The second obvious one was tonight in the second period. Chara was hit by Vermette while turning, and was slow to get up. When he did, he was seen to clutch at his leg before heading immediately down the tunnel. He did not return. The replays show he did not have his full weight on his knee. But knees are very odd, and hard to heal properly. For a guy who is a physical fitness nut just the emotional strain of not being able to workout would be damning. In a guy who plays 25 or more minutes a night on a team expected to go deep into the playoffs again, there’s no telling how wearing time missed with an injury would be. None of which considers the impact on a team with unproven assets in the 7th – 10th defensive slots. Steve Kampfer is a great skater, with a good shot and willing to make body contact, but he’d be averaging no more than 12-15 minutes a night if he stepped in, of all the defensemen behind him it’s unlikely any manage to top more than 8-9 minutes a night.
The third injury is only a potential one but it seems likely. If true, coupled with who is already know to be injured the impact on the season could be enormous. While he’s gotten solid results coming into tonight in his last three or four outings, Tim Thomas has looked off. If you look at his stance he looks more bunched up than usual and there isn’t the lower body extension we’re used to seeing when he goes down to battle for a save. It doesn’t appear to be a reoccurred of the hip issue that buried his season two years ago, and could simply be mental fatigue. I don’t however find that likely. Whatever the injury is, it is likely minor and will (hopefully) sort itself out in short order.