The Day After…

“You can go out, you can take a ride
And when you get out on your own
You get all smoothed out inside
And it’s good to be alone”

Face Up – Lyrics by Neil Peart

It was a late decision to drive myself to Kennewick yesterday instead of hopping the bus with the team.  Normally, I’d jump on the iron lung and make the trek, but I decided to drive myself as I had to do some business while in the car and that is easier to do from the comforts of my vehicle.

I admit I wasn’t a very happy camper (or Kemper for that matter) when I left the Toyota Center last night.  The game, obviously, didn’t turn out anywhere close to where the Hawks or their faithful thought it should and I admit that I was glad I could hop into my car, turn the IPod on shuffle, turn up the volume and, as the lyrics above suggest, get all “smoothed out inside”.

Ironically, the song “Face Up” was the second song to hit the playlist as I made my way toward home, preceded by another Rush song “Driven”, which talks about being “driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole”, and that wasn’t all that inspiring as I started my four hour trek back to Hillsboro.

The game itself, after the opening minute, wasn’t that bad for Portland as they created scoring chances and played evenly with the Americans for large sections of the opening 30 minutes, but the game took a nasty turn when Todd Kennedy went head-hunting (and there really isn’t any other way to describe it) on Eric Doyle in neutral ice.   Now, I like big open ice hits…the kind where a player puts there shoulder down and lays out a guy with a shoulder to shoulder or shoulder to chest hit.   This wasn’t one of those…the video evidence is here.

This is the exact kind of hit to the head that the hockey bodies are trying to remove from the game.  Kennedy is a physical player who hadn’t been in a game since early January due to an injury.  I understand he is trying to earn a regular spot in the Americans playing rotation, but this hit is senseless.  It is suspension worthy, the question is how many games?  We’ll find out soon enough, I guess…

As for Doyle, I left before I got an update on his situation so I can’t address that here, we’ll find out this weekend as the Hawks prepare for games with Seattle and Prince George.

After the hit, the Hawks got away from their game and paid the price being short-handed multiple times, including extended two-man disadvantages in the final 30 minutes.   In the end, the Ams had 13 power plays to four for Portland and that has been a trend in the series.  One of the reasons that Tri City is 7-1-0-0 against Portland is that in the eight games, Tri City has had 61 power plays in the series while the Hawks have had 32…a difference of 29.

In fact, for the season, the Hawks are -29 in power plays against the Ams and +2 against the rest of the WHL.  I’m not saying that Tri City didn’t deserve the extra man advantages, just that is has been a major factor in the series.

These two teams will meet again two more times, both in Portland, before the end of the season.  I’m hoping that the focus in those two is on hockey…

Next up…Seattle on Saturday…will Luca Sbisa be back for that?  Will Doyle be able to play?  Stay tuned…

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