Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Twin Comebacks

I couldn't get a hold of Daniel tonight, but as I'd already prepared a prompt, I thought I would post my answer to it.

A night of comebacks in the Twin Cities, as Anaheim squandered a three-goal lead, losing in overtime and leaving Minnesota with one point. The Ducks seemed rather unaccustomed to their hot start against the Wild; they faded down the stretch after goals by Lupul, Artyukhin and Koivu. Still, compared to last game, it was an encouraging effort by the new squad.

Particularly noteworthy were two plays by Joffrey Lupul. The forward made a cross-slot pass to Ebbett, who could not cash in the dish, and then followed that up by blocking a shot with his eye socket. Daniel, Me, which was the more impressive play, Lupul passing or Lupul sacrificing himself to block the shot?

I've made the joke before that Lupul is secretly the greatest passer in the history of the NHL. It's akin to the Chuck Norris Fact where the martial artist's tears can cure cancer. And I was impressed by the pass. Both by its quality and Lupul's decision to dish. But the more surprising and more impressive play to me was Lupul putting his body on the line.

In Ken Dryden's The Game, Dryden recalls the evolution of Larry Robinson: how Robinson blocked fewer shots, fought less and generally stopped putting his health on the line after he re-upped with Montreal. And the author is forgiving of that, because once you earn a big contract and your career becomes a series of contracts, there's nothing wrong with trying to stay healthy. And veterans like Robinson usually find a way to be effective without putting themselves at risk.

Lupul is definitely on his first pricey contract, and that led me to believe I'd see the same shoot-first-examine-pass-options-later puck piggy that I'd remembered from seasons past. Instead, I've found a tougher, well-rounded puck piggy. Yeah, he's still a puck piggy, but as long as he's willing to protect himself (and apparently the net), I don't find his inflated wage quite as upsetting as I maybe should.

No comments: