You know, I expected something sorta like this game. Probably not 7-5, but maybe, like, 4-3? Close, but with terrible goaltending...it was the first real game situation for many Huskies, particularly on the defensive end.
At the same time, I was really hoping to see something like 6-0, with good defense and solid netminding. Of course, when Binnington skated out onto the ice to start, I had the distinct feeling that I was going to be seeing a lot of pucks making their way through the five-hole to the back of the net.
You can get a game recap over at GoNU, so I'll just provide some observations:
- Mike Hewkin, someone whose job I was convinced was in danger of being lost, looked terrible out there. He had some really, really bad defensive zone turnovers that led directly to St. Thomas goals. He can't run the power play. I don't know why he skated over Strathman or Maley, but I have to imagine he won't during Hockey East play.
- I thought Jake Newton did a great job on the power play. He saved a couple of errant passes from heading into the neutral zone and had a couple nifty passes to the side boards to open up some space in the middle.
- Robbie Vrolyk looked great, as did Drew Daniels and Spellcheck. All three of these guys look like they're ready to contribute to the offense now, and that's huge, particularly considering the doubt surrounding the goalies.
- It wasn't until I watched Student, wearing #12, skate towards a player without obliterating him into the boards that I truly missed McCauley, Vitale, and Ginand, among the other graduates.
- Mike Binnington is not a Division 1 goalie. Nor has he ever been. He looked shaky, and all of his movements were twitchy and insecure. He allowed 3 goals on 7 shots, two of which were so unbelievably soft that I wasn't even looking at the goal, figuring there was no way the puck was i nthe back of the net. I'd be shocked if he plays again. He's just too nervous.
- Chris Rawlings is huge. I mean really, really big. He does look quite a bit like Ben Bishop out there, and someone in front of me claimed he looked over the players "like Zeus," which I thought was a pretty apt description. His size lets him look over, not around, a lot of players, and that makes him an interesting prospect. Unfortunately, his lateral movement last night was awful. Modern goalies have this thing where they like to drop into the butterfly on every shot, and that's okay, but only if you get up quickly after a shot misses. Rawls kept going into the half butterfly at the post when play was behind him, but apparently couldn't see the puck, because he wouldn't get up and move to the other post anywhere near quickly enough. He gave up two goals on nine shots, although the first goal wasn't his fault. A defenseman was literally standing in the slot, on the wrong side of the forward he was defending, and watched as a pass from the corner met his stick and got banged home behind a helpless goalie. The second goal was soft, coming in short side along the post while Rawlings was cinched up. Despite the nifty instant replay Matthews now offers, I couldn't really tell how the puck got in. He did improve as the game went along, though, so I'm going to chalk up the performance to nerves and coming in mid-period.
- St. Thomas, for those of you who don't know, is a Canadian school. As such, the players aren't bound by NCAA rules, so they don't have to wear cages on their helmets. They also don't have fighting restrictions. So they spent the entire third period gooning it up, starting fights they knew the Huskies couldn't fight back. A damn disgrace, and it's the last time St. Thomas plays in Matthews Arena. I'm sorta surprised Cronin didn't punch the opposing coach in the face during the customary post-game handshake.
- Quailer got hit in the act of shooting near the end of the third and injured his knee. He was on the ice for a few minutes before being helped up and skating off the ice. If he's hurt, I will personally find the St. Thomas goon who did it and end his playing career by forcing him to watch D3: The Mighty Ducks until he gouges out his eyes.
I'll cover the Kings in a few minutes. I've gotta head home to catch some football first.