Life’s not been as good to me as of late in terms of being able to catch UND games live. However, I have watched a few games over the webcast and NHL Network re-airings and I have a few comments and wish to bring to the blog the argument Goon and I have over what wins more games: Shut down goaltending and an at least responsible team defense or Shut down Team D and a goaltender that makes all the saves he should.
First off, though, the hit. Brad Malone’s hit on Jesse Martin is subject to debate. Yes, I see both sides of the argument. However, if they were going to make a call, Charging was the correct one to make. Unlike other buffoons wearing the stripes, this call actually is somewhat close to what actually occurred. I’ve seen major penalties called for elbowing or contact to the head-roughing when they weren’t even remotely true, but in this case, I can see the case for the call. This hit reminded me a LOT of the hit last year on Toews by Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell. However, after watching the replay, Malone only makes a passing attempt to play the puck. I think that is what got him the call. When the hit is made, it is basically Malone hitting Martin half-way between his belly button and his side (sorry my descriptions aren’t so good). Malone was in the process of changing directions due to an anticipated change in the direction of the puck or a reaction to it having already occurred. If it is the latter, then it was absolutely a penalty because Martin no longer had the puck.
The biggest problem is that this hit took place so fast. It is a problem being faced in pretty much every popular sport at every level. I’m not sure this hit would be this severe 10-15 years ago. I just don’t think the players back then were as fast, big, and hard hitting back then. Usually, players back then were one of those three, or even two of the three. But you rarely, in my opinion, saw a fast, big winger. Nowadays, they’re all over the place (so yeah, put Brad Malone at this age in the early 90s and I think he would have been a higher draft pick).
I expect that Malone will get a 1 game suspension because of this hit. Then again, he is a feisty winger that has a history with getting under the officials’ skins. Unlike professional officials, they do hold grudges from year to year (see Greene, Matt and Commodore, Mike) so it would not surprise me if Head Idiot Greg Shepherd gives Malone a weekend off.
Anyways, to the debate. Eidsness has had a rather rough start. I’m not going to make excuses for his poor play. However, I’m not going to throw him under the bus just yet either.
Goon (who can correct this if I misunderstood him) feels that, in order for the Sioux to win #8, we need a shut down goaltender. He maintains that he Sioux doesn’t have one of those. Just a sloppy, but drafted goaltender and a backup who turned down fierce and feisty competition from Quinnipiac to join UND (Dell). If I understand him correctly, the debacles vs. Maine and vs. UAA were mostly on Eidsness.
I disagreed with him. I believe that the game is won or lost by the play of the entire team. This means, a good and consistent offense mixed in with a great team defense can cover up and fully compensate for the fact that the goaltender isn’t the second coming of Eddie Belfour. Here’s my reasoning: Assuming we bury the chances we get most of the time, a solid Team Defense will eliminate most of the high-success-rate scoring chances the opposition gets and eliminate a lot of shots being sent towards the net through back checking, puck possession, and shot blocking. Therefore, the goaltender need only make saves on whatever manages to get through. This would explain why so many goaltenders have won it all or have gotten close. For example, Gudbranson of UW isn’t that great of a goaltender yet UW went all the way to the NC game. Fleury was very inconsistent as a goaltender yet Pittsburgh won the Cup a few years back. Osgood isn’t that great of a goaltender (I don’t give a damn what the stats say) yet he has 3 Stanley Cup rings. What won it all was a consistent offense and a dominating team defense.
Unashamedly, I do like Eidsness, but I’m a solid believer that it is the team that wins or loses games, not an individual player, even if that player contributes to what would undoubtedly be the game winning event for the opposition.
What do you all think?
In any case, a Split with DU was where I thought we’d be after this weekend was over. Brittain will grow into a thorn in UND (and the rest of the WCHA) hide.
And I do sincerely hope that Jesse Martin is ok.