Five around-the-league thoughts:
- Was Johnny Boychuk’s hit on Matt Stajan clean? Sure was. Did Boychuk keep his elbows tucked in? Sure did. Was it a respectful hit? Sure wasn’t. Think about it this way. How would Bruins fans feel about that hit if Mike Komisarek did the same to Patrice Bergeron? On these types of plays, I always go back to Bergeron, who deserves the final word on such hits: It’s about respect. Nothing wrong about two guys going hard after a puck and throwing checks to win a battle. But when a guy has his head down like Stajan, Boychuk has to pull up. Tough to do in a split-second, but it’s the right play to make. Also, what would have happened had Boychuk missed? odd-man rush for Stajan and the Leafs. These days, getting in a fight might be one of the safer plays.
- Duncan Keith can play for my team every day of the week. So fast. So smart. So skilled. Shawn Thornton, a Keith teammate in the AHL, said he’s improved dramatically since entering the NHL. Keith is in such good shape that he can skate out of position to play the puck, then fall back into the box before any damage takes place. Dennis Wideman also explained that Chicago’s system is built to take advantage of Keith’s skills (and those of Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell). When they’re winding up and carrying the puck up the ice, Wideman said, the forwards do a good job of regrouping, circling back, and gaining speed through the neutral zone to give their defensemen outs heading into the offensive zone.
- Give Chicago a top-shelf goaltender and they walk to the Cup. Or maybe, as one GM told me, they don’t even need an elite goalie because they have the puck so darn much.
- Nikolai Kulemin: underrated. Pretty smart forward who doesn’t get much recognition in Toronto.
- As you might expect, Mike Fisher’s engagement to Carrie Underwood is a BIG deal here in Ottawa. After the morning skate, when cameras descended on Fisher, one of the Senators turned to another and cracked, “TMZ.”