Last Tuesday, March 15, 2011 the Sharks played the Dallas Stars. During that game there was a lot of nastiness and hard hits from both sides. Douglas Murray the Swedish Murder Machine as I call him but is more commonly known as “Crankshaft” rocked the worlds of two opposition players on decidedly hard but clean hits.
Niklas Wallin got nailed into the boards from behind and was forced to leave the ice and eventually the game. There was no penalty called on the obviously illegal and dangerous play. There was also no retribution by the league’s offices after the game.
Dany Heatley, whom I have called out on this blog decrying his uncanny and super ability to take penalties at the worst possible moments in a hockey game, took another dumb penalty with just under five minutes left in the game. The Sharks were leading by one goal and Heatley threw his elbow into the face of a Star. Well, the penalty was called, as it should have been, and Heatley went to the box. Dallas pulled their goaltender to have a 6-4 advantage, but it wouldn’t help them as Joe Thornton got the puck, stick handled a bit, and hit the open goalmouth from behind the red line (or so I remember it, I was a bit drunk and it was almost 5am). The Sharks killed the rest of the penalty and went on to win the game 6-3. (After returning to play from the penalty box, Heatley netted himself and empty netter)
What else did he net? Well, a two game suspension for that idiotic headshot. I am glad he got suspended. He hasn’t been scoring so much this season, though he does seem to be working hard and he is taking shots, and he has become an on-ice liability when it comes to taking ill-timed and inopportune penalties. Mistakes happen, to be sure, and he’s the professional hockey player, not me, but he is there to score. And as I have written and said before, you cannot score from the penalty box. Simple as that.
The Sharks have already played out his suspension by defeating both Minnesota and St. Louis. It’s nice to know that we can score goals and win games without having to rely on Heatley’s offensive skills. At least for the time being. However, the playoffs are fast approaching (the Sharks now only have nine games remaining in the season) and the Sharks will need every able bodied player to step up and do what they are paid to do: blocking shots before they get to the net, stopping goals, scoring goals, in other words, make a positive impact on the game and give the Sharks a chance to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to San Jose. I for one will not be holding my breath in anticipation of Heatley shaking off 82 games of bad habits and poor decision making miraculously for the playoffs, but I can hope, so I will.
And speaking of able bodied players who the Sharks will need to make drink deep from the cup of victory, Logan Couture, rookie sensation and playoff hero left last night’s game with some kind of leg injury. Hopefully it’s not serious as Cooch (so he is called, the poor guy) is the team’s second leading goal scorer behind Patrick Marleau, has carried the team through rough spots this year, and is a force to be reckoned with. The Sharks need Couture in the lineup for the playoff more than they need Heatley, or so it appears.
Of course, anything can change and this suspension could serve as a kind of wake up call to Heatley and illustrate to him the asininity of taking penalties in the final five minutes of a hockey game, especially one in which your club is trying to protect a lead–something they have not been super successful at this season.
So Couture, get well soon. I hope to see you streaking down the ice again in no time.
And Heatley, you’re on notice. Pull your head out of your poop-chute and start using it score goals and stay out of the penalty box.
Heatley, I’ve wr