Original Six hockey, take five!

The fifth and final Original Six match up for NHLHS Correspondent Christina Roberts was Monday evening against the Chicago Blackhawks. The outcome was unlike any other Original Six game this season.

While this was an Original Six hockey game, you could definitely tell the difference between Monday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and Saturday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. There certainly weren’t as many Blackhawks fans as there were Leafs fans, and that electricity wasn’t in the air.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t an exciting game, of course.

The first period was all power plays and penalty kills, or so it seemed. The Blackhawks got a quick goal from Jonathan Toews in the first period to take an early lead, but it was canceled out on a four-on-four situation with a Nicklas Lidstrom snipe from the blue line.

All of this, however, was overshadowed by Todd Bertuzzi‘s five-minute major and game misconduct for elbowing Ryan Johnson in the head. I saw the hit (I was in the corner where it happened, albeit in the upper bowl) and my thoughts at the game were that yes, it was a high hit, but a game misconduct?! Upon seeing replays and videos online afterward, I can see why he got it.

Now let’s not try to hash this out more than it needs to – after all, no further disciplinary action is happening to Bertuzzi. If you watch the hit (video here!), yes it is a high hit. It’s not exactly an elbow, but it’s definitely upper arm. Was there intent to injure? No. Was it a blatant headshot? No. And under the rules, Bertuzzi isn’t a repeat offender. Granted, it wasn’t the prettiest hit in the world, but the outcome and consequences could have been a hell of a lot worse.

The evidence people have against him? That infamous suckerpunch that took place in 2004. But when someone starts to argue that he is a dangerous player, just ask them: “What has he done since then?”

Because what has Bertuzzi done since the Steve Moore incident? Since his return to the NHL after his indefinite suspension (and the lockout), has he really done anything bad? Has he pulled any stunts like Matt Cooke? Honestly, has he even had a fight since 2004? Sure, he still takes a hell of a lot of penalties, but that’s because he’s an enforcer. He hasn’t seemed to step one toe out of line since then and it’s not like he’s had a good reason to do so.

I’m not sticking up for Bertuzzi in the Moore incident (because that’s just hashing out what’s already said and done); I’m just saying that he’s changed his style of play since then. There are times when Red Wings fans want him to lose his cool and get in a fight with a player who’s picking on our guys or our goaltender, but he hasn’t yet and I don’t think he ever will. Knowing Mike Babcock and Ken Holland, they probably have him on a tight leash.

With Bertuzzi kicked out for the rest of the game, the lines were scrambled for the Red Wings. By the end of the first, they were down 2-1. Henrik Zetterberg tied everything up at two just a few minutes into the third period, and my brothers and I quickly realized we have witnessed Zetterberg’s last five goals (two against Washington, one against Pittsburgh, one against Toronto, and one against Chicago).

Going into overtime, I was simply thankful we had gotten a point out of it at all; with how crummy we played in the first period and how well Chicago was keeping us to the outside of the ice, it seemed like a miracle we had tied it up at all. When Chicago got a power play with four seconds left in the third, I knew it was only a matter of time.

And I was right. Marian Hossa sniped one in past Joey MacDonald, who should not be blamed for this loss. I don’t think many fans are blaming him; after all, the “Jo-ey! Jo-ey!” chant started at one point in the second period after a monster save. And as a side-note, almost all of his losses over the course of this season have been by one goal.

The reason this Original Six game was different from the rest because we lost (though it was in overtime). So my record for Original Six games this season was 4-0-1, undefeated in regulation.

I’d say that’s not half bad.

Christina Roberts
NHLHS Detroit Red Wings Correspondent
Twitter: @franzenmuth
Email: christina.roberts@nhlhotstove.com