Perhaps there is more than meets the eye with this gritty fourth liner.
Well hello there Leaf land. Itâ€™s been a little while since my last blog as I was working on a few short films. During that time, the Leafs have posted 2 victories with one loss and showed the Senators what the new club is made of. I sometimes wonder if anyone else doesnâ€™t mind watching the Leafs have a losing season as long as they beat the Senators. Some grudges never die.
Toronto will now get a two day break until Saturdayâ€™s second meeting with the New York Rangers. If you can recall, their first matchup resulted in a double shutout and a shootout loss for the Buds. There may not have been any goals scored during game play, but the affair was not the least bit boring. Look for Saturdayâ€™s game to be a quick back and forth measure with plenty of hits and perhaps a few more fights.
Speaking of fights, I want to give Ryan Hollweg some credit. Iâ€™ve found myself to be hard on him in discussions considering his play and lack of dedication towards his team by his costly penalties and bad decisions on the ice. Last night, I felt that he proved his worth. The Leafs were up and down throughout the game â€“ which was possibly my favorite to watch this season â€“ and Hollweg provided a gritty performance that resulted in an important goal for his line. He then gave a great â€œcleanâ€ hit on Zach Parise when the Leafs were down a goal, and took on Michael Rupp thereafter. For those of you who were watching the game, you would have noticed the fight took place at the end of Hollwegâ€™s shift after Brent Sutter tapped Michael Rupp to jump on the ice in order to put Hollweg in his place for the hit. To me, that should have resulted in an instigator penalty against the Devils, and perhaps a fine to head coach Brent Sutter for purposely sending him on the ice to do so.
Maybe itâ€™s just me, but I thought the league had â€œcracked downâ€ on teams purposely sending players out to fight after the Todd Bertuzzi incident. Or maybe there will be no fine because it was Ryan Hollweg.
If you didnâ€™t see the fight, picture this: Michael Rupp is 6â€™5â€ and weighs 230 pounds. Ryan Hollweg is notched at 5â€™11â€ and weighs 205 pounds. The fight looked a lot like David and Goaliath, except Hollweg didnâ€™t have a slingshot and Rupp had his way with him. Hollweg was split wide open and sparked the Leafs with a fast, hard hitting third period. Hollweg took one for the team and the Leafs ultimately got the win.
At the end of the game, I realized what Ryan could offer the team if he would put the extra effort into watching his hits. The eyes are clearly on him the moment his blades reach the ice surface, and after seeing the way he can play a â€œcleanâ€ game, he was worth trading for. He reminds me of the player Darcy Tucker used to be, before he thought he was a goal scorer. While Hollweg has nowhere near the offensive upside Tucker has, heâ€™s provided the game Tucker forgot how to play.
I only hope from here on out Hollweg continues his clean gritty game â€“ for his sake.
I just wanted to take a minute here in remembrance of a dear friend of mine who passed away last night from a car accident.
Frank Swanson was a 20 year old man who grew up loving the game of hockey. He played an incredible game as a defensemen and even though it was house league, he looked and played a lot like Rob Blake.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Micheal A. Aldred
For those of you who would like to see the short film I made, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvm_Fn5bGtA