Sunday, December 8, 2013

Shawn Thornton batters Brooks Orpik; Pens lose 3-2

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

Some sporadic thoughts this morning on a game I didn't see that much of, but certainly heard a lot about.

- Obviously the Thornton battery of Orpik was terrible and worthy of a huge suspension.  The slamming of the head into the ice was the most dangerous part, but the slew foot by Thornton that took Orpik down to the ice was the most revealing thing about his intent.  Any ridiculous attempt to justify Thornton's actions by saying that Orpik should have "answered for" his clean hit on Loui Eriksson are just that -- ridiculous -- but are made even more ridiculous when Thornton himself has to make a bush league move to exact his "vengeance."

- Speaking of Orpik on Eriksson ... it's very unfortunate that Eriksson has a concussion, especially given that he missed time earlier in the season with a concussion.  We hope he's ok, even if he has all the makings of a Penguins killer.  But the Orpik hit was clean (I haven't seen any angles where there was contact with the head, but let me know if one exists).  It's a hit that can be avoided by the player if the player keeps his head up, which is exactly the reason why Orpik (and guys like Niklas Kronwall) make that hit ... so the next time a winger gets a breakout pass in his own zone, he's trying not to get hit instead of taking the pass.

- The Neal knee to Marchand's head was not so clean and it was, actually, the least surprising thing that happened in the game given that it was James Neal taking a penalty in the offensive zone.  He should be suspended for a few games.  The bottom line for Neal is that as fantastic as he is, he really needs to reign in the fire a little but more, or at least figure out how to not take penalties in the offensive zone.  Nothing he did justifies Thornton's battery, but too often, the little things the Pens do end up taking the game from a hockey game to a sideshow.  

- And that's why how the Pens respond the next time these two teams play will be critical.  Do the Pens try to get some of their own revenge, or do they try to play a hockey game?  Fortunately -- or maybe unfortunately -- these teams won't meet until the playoffs.  In most circumstances, we'd think that means the Pens would let this go ... but we know that even the playoffs don't always change things.

- The loss itself is meaningless.  Pens are 1-1-1 against Boston this year.  If they meet in the playoffs, it's basically a coin flip.  Assuming everyone's healthy, that is.

Go Pens.



  2. Not sure why the Pens hate the Bruins SO much. I would think it should be the other way around (Cam Neely, Marc Savard). If/when they meet in the post season (assuming the Pens make it that far), its hard to imagine that all of our top players make it out alive. Although the consequence of a bruin being suspended for such injury in the post season is a big diterrent i guess.

  3. Kovacevic column = reactionary homerism. Thornton's actions are thuggery, but don't begin to rise to the level of what Bertuzzi or Brashear did. And the Orpik hit was borderline. Agreed, kid needs to keep his head up, but at no time does Eriksson possess or even make contact with the puck, so it's interference at best. To assert that there was no contact to the head may be necessary on a Pens blog, but if you look around the internet, the consensus is that in slo-mo, he got his head. Looks that way to me also. His head doesn't hit the ice, so he got concussed somehow. And in today's NHL, especially given Eriksson's very recent history, if Orpik and the Pens didn't expect he would have to answer for that hit, they're in a fantasy world. The argument has been made by many that if he goes with Thornton when invited (and as he should have expected), there's a very different outcome. I hope for 2 things...a quick return to health for both players, and a Pens/Bruins ECF matchup. And I HATE the Bruins, btw.

    1. If you have an angle showing Orpik making contact with Eriksson's head, please share. I haven't seen it. And you can get a concussion without getting hit in the head.

      The fact that it was so obvious that Orpik would have to "answer" for his hit on Eriksson is what is so ridiculous. What you're basically saying is that Shawn Thornton is an animal that cannot be controlled -- if you choose not to fight him, he will slam your head into the ice. Those are your options after you make a good hit?

    2. That fantasy word in which neither Orpik nor the Pens would have to "answer" to Thorton actually exists. And it exists in Boston, too. Even the Bruins' most devoted fans live in it:

      "I don't care if Brooks Orpik 'had it coming' (which he didn't) or not. People believe that what Thornton did was okay because Orpik wouldn't fight Thornton, which apparently makes any act after dismissing an invitation to fight kosher."

    3. I'm confused about who is talking about what world at this point, but it's pretty irrelevant. Orpik deserves no blame.

    4. I'm anonymous from 1:52. I'm not saying anything at all about Thornton in my original post. What he did was garbage and he deserves the 5-10 games he'll get. My point is that it is folly to believe that in today's NHL Orpik could have avoided retribution for that hit on that player. I understand that YOU believe it's ridiculous that this is the case, but that's the fact of the league at this point in time, and Orpik knows it. What happened to him is not his fault...all blame lies with Thornton. But this outcome would have been avoided if he satisfies the Bruins by answering when invited. Put the shoe on the other foot...McQuaid puts the same hit on Crosby. Does Engelland not offer the same invitation to him as Thornton did to Orpik? It would be consistent for you to feel that to be ridiculous also, but you know that's what would happen.

    5. Thanks for telling me what I would think, but you're wrong. If the hit on Crosby was clean, and Engelland tried to fight whoever it was that hit Crosby, I would still think it's ridiculous. But what would be even more ridiculous is if Engelland then dragged said player from behind and smashed his head into the ice.

      Of course Orpik COULD HAVE avoided the situation if he fought Thornton or by removing himself from the game and apologizing for making a legal hit. But more likely, he thought to himself, "two of our top defensemen are out, and I probably shouldn't go sit in the penalty box for 5 minutes."

      Thornton should get way more than 5-10 games. But he fake-cried and said he's sorry, so he'll probably get 5 games.

    6. I said "It would be consistent for you to feel that ridiculous also", which you have confirmed is the case, so I'm actually right.

      And I'm not saying Orpik's choice in the moment was the wrong one, necessarily. But ultimately, is it better to take your lumps and miss 2 shifts to put the whole situation behind you rather than looking over your shoulder the rest of the game? I wonder if he'll make the same choice next time.

      Anyway, enjoy the blog. Look forward to reaction on the Steelers game.