To the surprise of no one, the Windsor Spitfires crushed the Memorial Cup hosts, the Brandon Wheat Kings tonight by a 9-3 score. They scored the first five goals and led 8-1 after two periods, with Taylor Hall notching two tallies.
Is he good? For anyone who DVR'd the game, that will become plainly obvious when you watch it (assuming you haven't sworn off hockey after watching the Bruins-Flyers tonight).
Hall got hammered early with a hard hit, but bounced back to score a pair of pretty goals. He makes it look easy, but that's what goal scorers do. After watching the Bruins over the last three games, I believe that this is the guy they have to somehow maneuver to try and get. The B's have not successfully moved up in the first round at any time I can remember since covering the team, and have made numerous attempts. They may not succeed in swaying Edmonton to give up their designs on Hall (assuming they have them, and let's be honest here, and I mean absolutely no disrespect to Tyler Seguin, but after watching the OHL playoffs this year, why wouldn't the Oilers be licking their chops at adding Hall to the mix?) but I think that Peter Chiarelli has to at least try to wheedle the scoring wing away from the Oil and into a spoked-B.
The Spits also got productive games from veterans Adam Henrique, Dale Mitchell and Scott Timmins, all three already drafted in previous years (NJ- 08, Tor- 07, Fla- 09). Quiet game offensively from Justin Shugg, but watch him as the tourney goes on. He's one of those guys who doesn't have the dazzling skills or big size, but he works his bag off every shift and knows how to go to the net and make things happen.
From the Wheaties perspective, there wasn't much to cheer about, but 2010 draft prospect Mark Stone hammered the you-know-what out of Windsor's Craig Duininck, blasting him with a series of rights that felled the OHLer in quick fashion. If that's the kind of toughness Stone brings, then I can see why he was seen as a potential late first-rounder coming into the season. He's not a first-round pick, or even second-rounder to be honest, but he didn't quit tonight and when he thought he got hit with a cheap shot, challenged Duininck (a Minnesota native and eligible for the NHL draft in 2011). Kudos to Duininck for dropping them, but he got owned in that one.
I also thought Michael Ferland showed some jump tonight and had one nice play late where he stripped the puck from Ryan Ellis when the high-end Nashville prospect tried to carry it out of his own end.
Not much else to say here. Windsor looked like tourney favorites tonight, even with the two third period goals they let in. They can beat you in so many different ways, and for two periods tonight, they put on a clinic at Brandon's expense.
If you wondered what all the kerfuffle was about Hall and you watched this game, well, now you know.
Next up is Calgary and Moncton tomorrow.