October 9, 2011
Sarich hit on Pens pest will get second look
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Brendan Shanahan might regret his busy pre-season by the time the 82-game NHL schedule is complete.
He can expect to have a lot of video sent his way this year.
While even members of the Pittsburgh Penguins sitting up in the press box considered Flames defenceman Cory Sarich’s hit on Penguins pest Matt Cooke clean Saturday night during a 5-3 Calgary loss at the Saddledome, hockey operations will offer up tape for a closer look.
It’s tough to argue against the idea of making sure it was clean — even against a guy as polarizing as Cooke — but if every big hit in the league is going to be shipped to Sheriff Shanahan, he’s not going to have much time to himself.
The hit in question was a hard check from Sarich in the second period that looked like it first connected with Cooke’s sternum. Cooke’s head snapped back on the followthrough, but after shaking it off, he joined the scrum when teammates jumped to his defence.
He left the game but returned in the third period.
Whatever Shanahan decides, he should probably trick up another of his popular videos explaining his view.
The last thing you want is Don Cherry to be right and have big hitters second-guess the idea of laying the body on an opponent.
AROUND THE BOARDS
Looking for bright spots? They’re tough to find in a loss as deflating as the 5-3 decision. But look no further than defenceman Mark Giordano for a silver lining. His move to set up the opening goal (Curtis Glencross’ one-timer on the powerplay) was brilliant. He also got in front of three pucks on one shift killing a penalty ... The Flames’ second period was about as bad a 20-minute frame as you can have. They managed just five shots, gave up 16, and had four goals against. Yes, the Penguins are still a good team without Sidney Crosby ... Curtis Glencross seems to enjoy home openers. He scored the Flames’ first goal last season at the Saddledome. First of the year, too, after a shutout in Edmonton ... He may be known for offence and dumb penalties, but Pens star Evgeni Malkin made a great diving breakup of a pass Alex Tanguay shipped to Jarome Iginla in the first period to prevent a sure goal ... Iginla just missed a heavy slapper next time he and Tanguay burst into the zone ... Have to like the early signs of Jay Bouwmeester getting more involved offensively. He pinched down low and had a great chance on a feed from behind the Penguins net in the first frame.
AGAINST THE GLASS
It wouldn’t feel like opening night without Tim Jackman getting his face mashed up somehow. The big Flames winger went for a hit on Arron Asham, but the Penguins plugger got his elbow up at the last second, leaving Jackman with a blood-spattered nose and mouth CBC cameras got a great view of when Jackman went to the bench ... Lee Stempniak showed some promise for the Flames. He’s deceptively quick and made a nice second-period swipe of the puck to snatch it from Malkin ... Flash of brilliance in the third period from G Miikka Kiprusoff. He got his skate blade on Matt Cooke’s quick shot from the doorstep.
Nicklas Hagman suited up for his 700th NHL game. There was a time last season he probably thought he may never play another. Could be a nice comeback story. Hagman got the best of Fleury behind the Pens net to set up Olli Jokinen’s late goal ... Penguins D Kris Letang is getting shaggy. Had his head bowed during the national anthems and looked like the Addams Family’s Cousin Itt ... Flames C Brendan Morrison wasn’t playing, but he was tweeting from the press box. He liked the first period ... Flames C Roman Horak gets an assist on the second goal, his first point in his NHL debut.