Hamburg, Germany - The Circus is over, we are playing hockey again... After a pause in the schedule that saw a lot of action and speculation off the ice, we are back at work and played three good games. In our case, the break was really good!! Although I have to admit, it could not have been any worse than the last couple of weeks before the break...
There was big news in the hockey world this week, when the NHL announced the cancellation of its 2004-2005 season, not only once, but twice, as there were all kinds of rumors that they might play again after Gretzky and Lemieux got involved in the talks. Of course, the big news in Hamburg was the signing of a new goalie, and a good one too: Jean-Sébastien Giguère, from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He is in my opinion one of the top 5 or 6 goalies in the NHL, and everybody remembers him as the MVP of the playoffs two seasons ago, when the Ducks took the Devils to the limit in the Finals. Pretty hefty competition for me!!
I have to say that I was shocked at first that the team was first interested in another goalie, then that they had signed one... But I guess I have to respect their decision, and Jiggy is definitely an “impact” player, one who makes a difference in a team. With all the injuries and problems we had on offense, I think I expected the team to try to get help there, but they decided on a goalie.
Me against Jiggy?
Not at all... I have absolutely nothing against Jean-Sébastien. He is a great goalie, a very good person (French-Canadian, just like me!) who integrated himself very well with our group. He makes us a better team, and it is very interesting to see him play. We have a good relationship on and off the ice, and we should be able to push each other to be even better, which in turn will help the team. I call this a healthy rivalry, very similar to what I lived with Küni (Christian Künast) over the past five seasons. Except maybe that the roles have been reversed on me a little!! We saw some results of this already in the three games since the break... In Wolfsburg and in Nurnberg
I wasn’t even supposed to play on Tuesday. But because of the late developments in the labor talks in the NHL, and the threat that they might start playing, the team decided to wait until after the game to make their final decision about Giguère. So, with only three hours of notice, I jumped in goal and recorded my third shutout of the season, a 5-0 beating of the Grizzly Adams and their own NHL goalie, Ty Conklin. We were ready from the beginning, scored early when Manner poked a loose rebound past Conklin for his second goal in three games since coming back from his knee injury. Chief scored the second goal on a great pass from Brandon Reid, and we never looked back. Reid, Purds and Jacko added the other goals, and I made 32 saves, including a penalty shot by Jan Zurek in the third period. There was a lot of excitement in the bus on our way to Hamburg, as we learned at 11:55 that the Freezers have finally decided to take a little risk and signed Jean-Sébastien. On Wednesday evening, the NHL announced officially that their season was cancelled, and so on Thursday night in Nürnberg, we had our first look at Jiggy, in a game anyway!!! And it was a good one. He admitted after the game being quite nervous, and he looked a bit shaky for the first ten minutes maybe, but recovered nicely and was very very solid, especially in the two 5 vs 3 situations that we had to face against the top power-play team of the league. We lost 2-1, but gave the Ice Tigers all they could handle, and their goalie Adam Svoboda was their best player. He made some great saves against Reid and Purds on breakaways, and stole Tanger on a great 2 on 1 rush with Purds. 1st DEL win on Sunday
Jiggy played his first home game on Sunday against Augsburg, and supported once more by a sellout crowd, he helped us win 3-1, recording his first win in Germany. He was once again very good, especially in the third period when Augsburg tried everything to tie the game... Sasa Martinovic gave us the lead in the first period, with his first DEL goal, on a nice shot over the glove of Labbé. François Fortier beat Jiggy on the short side, over the glove too, in the last minute of the first to tie the game. Houser cashed in on a power-play opportunity in the second period, with a wrist shot through traffic from the slot. Brandon Reid added a late goal in the empty net to seal the victory... Big win for us, against a team that wants to catch us for a place in the playoffs. Captain's curse
Incredible!! Since the beginning of 2005, the four players who have worn the captain’s “C” on their jerseys have been seriously injured. After Rummer (knee), Smash (foot) and Tomer (wrist), it was Martinovic’s turn to go down on Sunday, when he was struck in the face by a stick. We are not quite sure how serious the injury is, but he was cut pretty badly around the left eye, and we will know tomorrow if there are more serious damage... Nobody wants to have the “C” anymore!!! Upcoming games
Big game on Wednesday at home against Krefeld, another team that needs the points as badly as we do. We have won all three games against them this year, all by only one goal. Then, in Berlin on Sunday. It would be nice to win a game there, since there is a chance that we might play them in the playoffs.