March 5, 2011

Gillies Suspended 10 Games; Blues at Isles

The NHL came down hard on Trevor Gillies on Friday when they announced that they suspended him for 10 games for his hit on Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild.

I was very adamant about how I felt about what happened in the post game write-up. I still stand by those and have no problem with this suspension.

Gillies didn't hit Clutterbuck hard. Thankfully, DiBenedetto wasn't hurt from Clutterbuck's hit, either. But the fact of the matter is that it was a pretty senseless thing for Gillies to do coming fresh off of that nine game suspension. Again, the proper way to handle this situation is challenge Clutterbuck to a fight. When he declines (which generally does happen) then you let Matt Martin and Zenon Konopka take care of hitting anything that moves. A few hits to the likes of Martin Havlat and Pierre-Marc Bouchard takes care of everything and forces the entire Wild team to have to answer the bell for Clutterbuck's hit.

I know people point to the NHL's inconsistency in handing out these suspensions, and that is still the case here. We can argue all day if either of Gillies suspensions fit the crimes. While I support a lot of what happened in that Pittsburgh game, what Gillies did to Tangradi wasn't cool, hit or no hit on Jack Hillen. Continuing to pummel an injured player is terrible no matter how you slice it. That's why they came down as hard as they did on him, or so they thought.
For Gillies to come out after that suspension, and hit Clutterbuck up high - it doesn't matter from the side, from the rear, whatever - is mindless. I'm not sure what was going on in his head. But the reason this suspension is so lengthy is due to what he was just coming off of, not two minutes (of ice time) into that first game back.

The suspension most likely gives Gilles seven (potential) games left of his NHL career.

ISLES TAKE ON BLUES: The Islanders take on my favorite team from the West as the St. Louis Blues come to town. The Blues are a team that has had a rather up and down season, and they made their feelings known on the teams collapse after their hot start with their trade of Erik Johnson and Jay McClement to the Colorado Avalanche for Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart.

Stewart has been on fire for the Blues, and is the type of player we can hope Kyle Okposo turns in to. While they were drafted far apart in the first round from each other, both were first round picks in the 2006 draft. Stewart hasn't been held back by injuries though and has put together two straight solid seasons as a power forward. He is the guy the Isles have to key in on.

The Blues have some other solid players who are having good season's, like Andy McDonald. He's the guy setting up the likes of Stewart or David Backes.

Ben Bishop starts in goal for the Blues. Bishop has been up and down between the NHL and the AHL's Peoria Blues, but has had some solid games recently when Jaroslav Halak was hurt. Bishop's play led to the waiving of Ty Conklin.
Micheal Haley gets back into the line-up after missing time with a knee injury. He takes Gillies spot in the line-up. Al Montoya gets another start coming off that stellar performance against the Wild. If he puts in another one like that, it's going to be really hard to not start him Sunday against the Devils, no matter what Nathan Lawson did in Washington.
All in all, a pretty good match-up for a Saturday afternoon. Two teams that play similar styles that actually match up quite well with each other. It should be a fun one.

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