Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 2 at the NHL Prospects Tournament: St. Louis vs. Dallas

Sunday at the 2010 NHL Prospects Tournament started with the Minnesota Wild taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets, and I’ll have a few snippets of commentary from that contest later in this summary. I was scheduled to call the St. Louis Blues versus the Dallas Stars in the second afternoon contest, and here's my summary.

Dallas needed to save face after a poor showing in their opening contest against Detroit yesterday, and they had to get off to a quick start to establish the tempo. This strategy became apparent right off the opening faceoff as Tomas Vincour (Vancouver – WHL) opened the scoring after a feed from Etienne Boutet (Rimouski – QMJHL) just 11 seconds in. Blues starting goaltender Peter Di Salvo (Barrie – OHL) was under siege early and often. At the 4:48 mark, Di Salvo left a juicy rebound to his right after a Tristian King (Medicine Hat – WHL) shot, leaving Michael Neal (Idaho – ECHL) to scoop the puck past Di Salvo, padding the Dallas lead at 2-0. St. Louis struggled to generate many significant offensive chances and shots – despite numerous rushes – perhaps evidenced most by Mark Cundari’s (Windsor – OHL) rush through the middle of the Dallas’ zone, resulting in Cundari getting tangled up between two Dallas defenders and knocked to the ice. Brett Sonne (Peoria – AHL) did his part by crashing the net hard, and Alex Pietrangelo (Niagara/Barrie – OHL) showed some nice puckhandling along the boards in keeping the offensive pressure on Dallas. The Blues’ persistence paid off when Josh Shalla (Saginaw – OHL) fired a shot off the right wing past the Stars’ Tyler Beskorowany (Kingston – OHL) with 12 ½ to go to cut the lead in half. St. Louis then started to get into penalty trouble - a recurring theme you'll continue to read about this game.  Even so, Anthony Nigro (Ottawa – OHL) was able to generate a swift short-handed chance with a back-handed dangle that Beskorowany was able to turn away. Philip Larsen (Frolunda – SWE) helped to re-establish the Stars’ offensive presence with the man advantage with a few blasts from the point, while King skated around to perimeter of the St. Louis zone before taking umbrage with the Blues’ Cody Beach (Calgary – WHL). This fight was part of a big scrum that happened with just over 2 minutes left in the frame when Beach fired a shot at Beskorowany following a whistle for a stoppage in play, as Beach was to be originally penalized for charging (signaling only the start of a rough day for him). Dallas outshot St. Louis 16-8 when the smoke cleared, and the Stars led 2-1 after one.

The end of the first frame set the tone for the second stanza. A seemingly endless parade of players marched in and out of the penalty box all period long. The constant chirp of the whistling proved especially damning for the Blues, who spent most of the final 12 minutes of the second period a man down. Beach remianed a regular patron of the sin bin, first drawing a roughing call – the result of another scrum in front of Beskorowany, which led to Dallas’ Cole Grbavac (Medicine Hat/Kamloops – WHL) pummeling St. Louis’ Phil McRae (London/Plymouth – OHL). St. Louis was able to kill off that man advantage, but Beach was reeled back in by the zebras just 11 seconds after leaving the box thanks to an errant stick on a high sticking double-minor. Pietrangelo and Brett Ponich (Portland – WHL) logged major minutes in the frame on the kill, while Stefan Della Rovere (Barrie – OHL) showed his grit and dogged determination by sacrificing his body on a few blocked shots. Despite the decided disadvantage in manpower throughout the period, St. Louis only allowed 7 Dallas shots on Di Salvo (which matched the Blues’ offensive output), keeping the deficit at only one with 20 minutes to play.

Unfortunately for the Blues, Beach’s bad behavior continued in the third, as he was whistled for a boarding call just 24 seconds in (Beach totaled 20 minutes in penalties in all, including a game misconduct for his second fight of the game with the Stars’ Alex Therriau – from the WHL’s Everett Slivertips – towards the end of the game). King finished a beautiful one-man rush into the St. Louis zone, rifling the rubber past Di Salvo for a power play marker just over 2 minutes in, upping the Dallas lead to 3-1. Scott Glennie (Brandon – WHL) showed some quick wheels in skating the puck up the ice along the boards on several PP rushes.  In all, Dallas finished with 13 PP opportunities compared to 4 for St. Louis, with a grand total of 84 PIM called between the two squads. When St. Louis was able to muster any offense, Beskorowany slammed the door shut thanks to some impressive glove work, making 26 saves in all for the game. Kevin King (Kootenay – WHL) finished the scoring for the Stars with 6 minutes to play.

FINAL SCORE: Dallas 4, St. Louis 1

Minnesota’s Darcy Kuemper (Red Deer – WHL) stopped 24 of 25 Columbus shots to lead the Wild to a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. Five unanswered goals by five different players cinched the win for Minnesota, but the oddest moment of the game came from Nate Prosser (Colorado College – WCHA). Prosser’s bullet from the point appeared to go wide of Columbus’ Riley Gill (Western Michigan – CCHA), but many of the Wild’s players on the ice protested that the puck did in fact go into the net, but tickled through the twine and against the glass behind the goal. When play finally stopped about 15 seconds later (and with the puck at the other end of the rink), one of the referees conferred with the goal judge (who had not hit the light), with the final result allowing Prosser to take credit for a goal, which put the Wild up 3-1 in the second period. From what I had seen, the netting did appear to have moved ever so slightly, which would’ve been an easy call to miss. The win gave Minnesota two wins in two starts, and gives them an inside track to the championship game on Wednesday (but not before a matchup with New York on Tuesday).

A brief reminder to all that the tournament pauses from game action on Monday, though all eight teams will take the ice for practices to work out the kinks in their respective games. Tuesday’s schedule looks like this:

Tampa Bay vs. Dallas @ 3:00
Minnesota vs. NY Rangers @ 3:30 (which I’ll be working)
Columbus vs. Carolina @ 6:30
Detroit vs. St. Louis @ 7:00 (my second game of the day)

I’ll plan to catch brief glances at the games I won’t be working in between periods (per my usual routine).

In the meantime, Tampa vs. Detroit write-up is due up next (with snippets from Carolina-NY)….which I'll post tomorrow.

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