Last night proved exactly why the NHL isnt too woried about all the hot air from Hockey Fans about not coming back to the NHL. We are starving for NHL hockey and any chance we have to watch something even close to it scratches an itch we couldnt reach on our own. Last night’s Heat/Barons game was incredible.
My twitter feed exploded, my wife was sent to the basement to watch her shows, the kids were told to be quiet, and there was a saturday night hockey game between a bunch of Oilers and Flames. Sweet lord, what a thing of beauty. For a while I thought I was crazy because it was a scoreless game for a very long time but my excitement was through the roof. I’m not crazy though, it was a good game. Lots of opportunities on both sides, good goaltending, and two Oilers players with bright futures scored.
Hall’s goal was good to see because he had earlier in the game taken a shot on net that reminded the eye more of Shawn Horcoff than Taylor Hall. It was ugly and the resulting commentary was centered around the recent shoulder surgery. So when Hall got that puck and buried it there was a collective sigh of relief that followed the initial elation. Then in OT Schultz saw Eberle curl and immediately found a good position to receive the pass and take a shot on net. He made no mistake and put the puck past the tender.
Outside of those plays there were a few other impressions that the Barons made on me. First and foremost, that defense needs some more capable puck movers. Especially once Schultz goes to the NHL. I was also struck by Paajarvi’s speed. I’ve seen him play plenty of times before, but he is a rocket out there. If he could find it in his game to be more physical, to lay a hit after he darts up ice, he could play in the NHL for a decade or more. That of course brings me to Tyler Pitlick. The former Medicine Hat Tiger might not have hands, but his wrecking ball style catches the eye pretty quickly. He was a load in the offensive zone too big for the Heat to handle. He was drafted pretty high so a career on the 4th line might be a bit of a disappointment to some, but he has what you want in a bottom 6 guy, and the Oilers have too many players for him to displace a 3rd liner.
Overall, that game whetted my appetite for NHL hockey. I was never foolish enough to think that I could legitimately threaten to stop watching, now I know I cant do it.