First of all, after having watched, in person, Edmonton beat up and successfully get under the skin of Seattle Tuesday night, I would have to say that Portland, responded to the physical play better. This, even with most of their top players being on the small side. They did not back down and for large portions of the game, controlled the flow. In their match up, Seattle got upset and appeared to forget their was a hockey game on, instead taking stupid penalties (Edmonton was 3 for 3 on the powerplay in a 6-2 win).
An argument could be made that Edmonton's one player that seemed to physically handle the Hawks was 5'9" 175 lb LW Dylan Wruck (I gave him first star of the game honors). That is hardly an imposing stature, he was throwing around.
Without Wruck's one man show to end the second period, against what appeared to be a tired defensive unit, the Hawks probably pull this game out. That goal completely turned the momentum away from the Hawks and helped set up the Oil King's impressive 3rd period.
The last silver lining has to be Ty Rattie's play. Last year Edmonton played him physically and made him ineffective in the finals (never more so then their game 7 win). Last night, he was a man possessed, setting up 2 goals and, by my count, getting at least 6 shots on goal. Rattie stepped up big time. If he had gotten more assistance from league leading scorer, Brendan Leipsic, we are talking about a much different hockey game. Also, Rattie's speed gave their Defensemen fits several different times (particularly Ashton Sautner and Cody Corbett).
If last night's game is representative and both teams get out of their conferences, we are going to get a fantastic final, to rival last years. One that the Hawks have to be confindent they can pull out.
Links and Notes:
-Adam De Champlain was suspended for one game for jumping Keegan Lowe and Henrik Samuellson was suspended for two, following his spearing of Ty Rattie.
-Saskatoon extended their win streak to 17 last night. Here is a piece from Kelly Friesen about how they have turned around their season.
-Piece from Kerry Eggers about Travis Green learning on the run as coach of the Hawks.
-Paul Buker's article about the game last night.
-Kelowna beat Seattle at home tonight 4-1, cutting the Hawks Western Conference lead to 11 points. They have one game in hand on the Hawks.
-Video of the Lowe hit on Kopeck and De Champlain's response:
-In the NHL: the Chicago Blackhawks won again (3-0 vs. St. Louis), taking their streak to 20 games with at least one point, to start the season.