There were a few NCAA Bowl games on yesterday across the old, flickering television set, but there were a number of hockey games on yesterday, proving that hockey is viable as a television presentation... at least in Canada. The Davos-Canada game from the Spengler Cup was an incredible game with late goals, furious action, and momentum swings all over the place. The Montreal-Pittsburgh game shown on Hockey Night In Canada was another great game, and it was followed by more Ottawa Senators' heartbreak in their game versus Calgary. If you have the NHL Network, you're getting a healthy dose of the World Junior Championships as well.
Let's run through a few of the games from various leagues last night.
- The game between HC Davos against Canada at the Spengler Cup was one for the highlight reel. Canada trailed 3-0 after the first period and 4-3 after two periods. The last seven minutes of the third period, however, will have people talking about this game for a while. Serge Aubin tied the game up at a 4-4 score with a goal in a scramble around the net. With 1:35 left, Andres Ambühl scored his second of the game to give Davos a 5-4 lead, and the potential win. However, a Janne Niinimaa flub on a pass allowed Hnat Domenichelli to sweep a puck behind Leonardo Genoni - who played an outstanding game in net for Davos - to tie the game at 5-5 with 38 seconds remaining. Overtime solved nothing, so the teams went to a shootout, and the only goal scored was by Davos' John Pohl to give the Swiss side the extra point.
- Travis Scott, who was the goaltender for Canada, looked extremely shaky all night, and really didn't give me much confidence in his play. I'm not sure of his stats with Austria's Klagenfurt AC, but he did go 13-6 with a 2.13 GAA last season with the Cologne Sharks of the German Elite League. However, there were at least two goals where I'm sure he'd like to have them back. In a short tournament, that kind of goaltending will kill you. I expect Hershey's Daren Machesney to be back in net against Germany's ERC Ingolstadt tomorrow.
- Yesterday was a light day at the World Junior Championships, but there wasn't anything light about the scores. Slovakia blew out Latvia by a 7-2 score, and Germany hammered Kazakhstan 9-0. Both Latvia and Kazakhstan need some help as they have been dominated on the scoreboard in every game thus far. Both teams have played well, but their opposition is just at a higher level of skill.
- Just to let you know, I still can't get used to the names of the Swedish players being posted across their rear ends. As gorgeous as the Tre Kronor uniform is, that's definitely a drawback in getting a new Sweden jersey customized.
- One of the best players ever produced by the country of Belarus ran roughshod on the Pittsburgh Penguins last night. Andrei Kostitsyn scored all three goals in Montreal's 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, giving the Belarussian forward his first career hat trick. Carey Price played well, and the Canadiens look like they might be getting ready to make a run in the standings. While they have a long way to go in catching the Boston Bruins, last night was a good start against another solid team.
- Speaking of Boston, they defeated the Hurricanes by a 4-2 score last night. Despite them missing Patrice Bergeron and Aaron Ward, the Bruins continue to roll. Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic might be some of the best youngsters in the game this year, and Marc Savard is having another phenomenal year. Combine that with the resurgeance of Manny Fernandez and the inspired play of Tim Thomas in the Boston nets, and this team appears to be the odds-on favorite for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals from the East.
- My vote for the Calder Trophy this year is going to Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He's 10-7-1 this season for a weak Blue Jackets team, and he's posted an incredible three shutouts including one last night in Columbus' 3-0 win over Philadelphia. While Columbus needs some help in the scoring and defensive departments, they have two excellent goaltenders in Pascal Leclaire and the improving Steve Mason.
- Steven Stamkos scored his fifth goal of the season last night in Tampa Bay's 6-4 win over their cross-state rivals in the Florida Panthers. I still think he should be wearing the red-and-white at this year's World Junior Championships, but that's just my opinion.
- The worst team in the Western Conference in St. Louis battled the best team in the Western Conference, the San Jose Sharks, to a 3-2 shootout win last night. On any given night, anyone can beat anyone, and San Jose needs to keep their intensity high when playing a weaker opponent. This might be one of the few cracks in the BlackArmor we've seen in San Jose this year.
- I'm not even going to talk about Ottawa's secondary scoring issues. That team is in some severe disarray, and it appears that Craig Hartsburg is running out of options. GM Bryan Murray needs to strip that team down, and start building it up again. While Alfredsson, Heatley, Auld, and Volchenkov would be the only players I wouldn't move, there is something significantly wrong with the Senators, and it's time for something to happen.
- The ECHL's game between the Elmira Jackals and Johnstown Chiefs was rescheduled from last night to today due to "unsafe ice conditions". With the weather report in Chicago for New Year's Day calling for near-freezing temperatures and the possibility of sleet, do you think the NHL will consider the safety of its players over the value of the almighty dollar? Yeah, I think not.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!