Going to handle things a bit differently today than the usual ReCap. Lots of things to be happy about (mainly yet another win in Steeltown and Ovi's first goal) and still others to be concerned about, but I'm going to focus on one peculiar event that's causing a lot of controversy---the Beagle/Asham fight.
Let me start out by mentioning that I'm not at all opposed to fighting in hockey. As a lover of the history of the game, I appreciate the role that it has. It can, and often does, affect the outcome of a game and at the very least brings a team together when they need it most. Sorry to those of you who think it doesn't belong in the game but even the Commish himself has been on record as saying it's not going anywhere. No, what I am opposed to is blatant violations of the time honored code. Put another way, even in fighting, there's a fine line between decency and outright barbarism and Arron Asham pole-vaulted over it last night.
We all know by now how it all started. Why wasn't Asham satisfied with the call that they did get? Was he even aware that they were ABOUT TO GO ON THE POWER PLAY? And don't even tell me wasn't aware of that--I'll never buy it. You're telling me an 11-year NHL veteran knows not what the refs called while he was on the ice? Bullsnot. Sorry Pens fans, this was an assault, pure and simple. Forget the taunting afterward, what Asham should really be apologizing for is the act itself. There just wasn't any reason for it. His teammate got his lid knocked off--so freaking what? There's worse that could have happened. Though he does get props for being a man and admitting he was classless about the taunting. But that hardly negates baiting someone into a fight who had no choice but to participate.
Beagle was properly penalized for what he did; he got 2 minutes for roughing. Why in God's name did Asham feel he had to take it to the next level? There's fighting someone to teach a lesson, then there's fighting to hurt someone. I'm opposed to the latter. But that's what this was--clearly an intent to injure. Ovie was right to criticize him after the game, it proves you don't have to act like a goon to stand up for your teammates. Besides, that's what a Captain should do--nothing hypocritical about that. And so the stupidity continues--read Asham's drivel here. This guy is unbelievable. Talk about revisionist history. This guy clearly has no respect for the code. By the way, if you heard what he actually said , he wasn't criticizing your taunting, dummy, so how could he be a hypocrite?
So this would be where Grapes (Don Cherry) comes in. I'm sure he wold approve of all this crap. Even more so since it's Ovechkin's team that was involved and we all know that he believes no one outside of Ontario is worthy of lacing up skates. He would be the ultimate hypocrite if he did, since he so loudly disapproved of Ovechkin's infamous "hot stick" goal celebration. But somehow I think he'll be Asham's loudest cheerleader when he next gets his mug in front of the camera on Coach's Corner.
I used to have so much respect for Don Cherry because he used to stand up for what has always been good about the game--honor, toughness, camaraderie, intensity and the men who played the game with those qualities. Even if his xenophobia was shrill at times, he was still good-natured enough otherwise so that you could look past that. Now he doesn't seem to stand up for anything except what goes against the growth and progress of the game. Now I hear that some of those tough guys he says he used to admire so much are nothing but "pukes" in his opinion because maybe, just maybe they have enough guts to disagree with him about fighting and the damage it potentially does. It's truly gotten to the point where he's going to run out of friends and supporters and what will he do then? Idiots like him and Bill Clement just simply need to go away because no one really cares what they think anymore anyway.
Once more with feeling--I am NOT opposed to fighting in hockey. But if guys like Chris Nilan and Stu Grimson who once made their living by it are speaking out about possible long-term effects, I don't think it would be such a bad idea to at least listen. But that discussion is for another day, another post.
Now for some things to feel good about: It looks as though the top line has finally got it in gear as all three collected points in the game. And Mike Knuble didn't even have to touch the puck to get his goal. Now that's talent. And how about Dennis Wideman's sweet shot to end it in OT? We truly are blessed to have not one but two mobile defensemen who can bring the point shot when it's called for. Tomas Vokoun was a human sponge absorbing just about everything thrown at him. I'm not even mad at the two goals the Steeltown Turkeys did get--they were both scored by James Neal and he's on my fantasy team.
Another game of ups and downs but it was yet another character win for the men in Joe B put it best, the PK rallied around the injured Beagle and killed off his penalty. So if the Pens had any ideas about sending a message, I got one for them--message received, loud and clear. Now hear ours: We got the two points.
Your move, Penguins.