Since the Flyers sat idle last night, I caught the Western Conference double-header on Versus last night. The Nashville Predators fought back from a 3-0 deficit to the St. Louis Blues in the first period to win the game in overtime. The Vancouver Canucks scored the first two goals of the game, but the Colorado Avalanche won by scoring the last four. What fascinated me was the similarities between two players I never would have compared before – Peter Forsberg and Jordin Tootoo.
Peter Forsberg can single-handedly take control of a game like no other player in the NHL. And he does it with incredible subtlety. For those who still don’t understand why a team would still be interested in Peter the Great despite all the injury woes, this was the game to see.
Forsberg received a penalty on a weak interference call, leading to the powerplay that put Vancouver up 2-0. He left the box with a very determined facial expression. Forsberg proceeded to change the momentum of the game. He drew a Canuck penalty, set up the play on the first goal, assisted on the second, and managed to slip behind the defense to score high gloveside on the breakaway – his first goal since returning to the NHL.
Had it been anyone else, they would have been Three Stars of the Night material. For Foppa, it’s another night at the office.
Jordin Tootoo does not often elicit comparisons with stars of Forsberg’s caliber. He’s earned a reputation as an agitator who delivers hard (but often dirty) hits – and all with his 5’9″ 194-pound frame. What some people may not realize is that Tootoo actually does possess hockey skills.
Nashville as team did not wake up until after the Blues scored 3 goals, Trotz took a time out, Dan Ellis was pulled, and there was a 5 minute maintenance break to repair the door to the Nashville bench. But the line featuring Jordin Tootoo and Brandon Bochenski came out blazing. They form the third line, but they consistently spent most of their shifts in the offensive zone. Tootoo kept making space for his linemates with physical play and making good choices when distributing the puck. Bochenski scored Nashville’s first goal from the crease, and Tootoo scored the second goal on a shot from the far wing.
In 14 shifts, Tootoo had 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots, and a +2 rating. Without Tootoo, no one spends this morning discussing Nashville’s chances in the playoffs.