Last season, Eric Godard was awarded the Player's Player award by his teammates. You know how that goes, the guy who is in the locker room or out on the ice that is just a great guy over all: everyone likes him, he doesn't cause trouble, all that stuff. You can see why he gets this award when he starts shenanigans like dressing up like a care bear during practice or all the visits he does to hospitals in the area. It also shines through on the ice when he is skating around doing his job. He doesn't complain, ever, when he sits. Usually, when he's in the press box, or even when he's not, he's too busy busting out unreal suits to be worrying about scoring goals:
When you're dressed like that, everything else falls into place.
Godard on the ice is still something to be counted on. I still believe that people don't fully understand what it's like to have an enforcer in the lineup. Just the simple FACT that Godard and Mike Rupp are sitting on the bench chewing out anyone that looks at Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin funny makes the team better. That presence gives players more confidence to go out and do stuff that they might not normally do, battle in a corner with a goon or go to the net hard against a bigger defenseman, because they know that if the goon tries anything, he is going to have to answer to Godard or Rupp the next time 28 or 17 is on the ice with them.
This happened last night. Alexander Pechursky, as anyone who is a real fan and kept watching the game saw, was awesome in relief of John Curry. The baby Russian was fantastic in his play, challenging the guy with the puck, eating up pucks so there weren't no rebounds, all that good stuff. Pechursky also got his true NHL welcome from Darcy Hordichuk.
It's not unlikely that Pechursky hadn't gotten a taste of this style of play. Pechursky comes from the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. ANY time the WHL is mentioned it seems to includes the words "tough," or "rough," or "hard hitting." Pechursky has most likely dodged his fair share of shenanigans playing for the Americans already, such as this:
[Photo courtesy of John Allen, WHL's website]
Mad hops, yo. But, Pechursky got a different kind of physicality when Darcy Hordichuk decided there wasn't enough bullshit going on in a game that was already decided. Nothing was happening in this game. Godard had gave Hordichuk a little tap earlier in the game but that was a while ago at this point. There was absolutely no reason for Hordichuk to run Pechursky, who was simply playing his game and playing it well. Really, it is amazing Hordichuk did this like he did. Usually we see a guy coast a bit to bump the goalie or takes the momentum of a guy pushing him and "accidentally" bumps the goalie. Hordichuk however, attempts to skate around the guy holding him off who is pushing him towards the cross bar, and strides into Pechursky. Insanity.
Hordichuk, however, made the mistake of running the goalie when Eric Godard was on the ice. Godard immediately jumps to the aid of the baby Russian and loses his gloves faster than a prom date loses her dress:
Whoops. Guess you forgot about that little caveat, eh Darcy? Though, I'm such a fan of Hordichuk's reaction. He gets up swearing and acting all offended. I mean, I understand you don't stand up for your goalie Hordichuk (See: Byfuglien in the playoffs against Vancouver), but in Pittsburgh even our baby Russians get our full defense. You're not going to get away with it. And, at the end of the day?
It still feels like a win because of the baby Russian doing so well. Hope to see you again Pechursky.