It was the game that was. And was again. February 11th, the St.  Louis Blues visited Anaheim, but if you look up the Ducks/Blues stat sheets for that date, there will be nothing. Only there was something—a game that was suspended after 12:10 of play. Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester collapsed with that much time gone in the game and the score tied at 1-1.

Emergency personnel rushed to the player, down on the bench, and after a series of efforts, got him in condition to transport to hospital. He had had a cardiac arrest, and shortly a few days later, he had a Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator implanted.

Shortly after he was taken away, the announcement came that the game was suspended. It would be replayed later.

Later came Wednesday, a back-to-back situation for the Ducks, who took on Ottawa in a big, if irrelevant, 5-2 win. The great feature of that game? That fourth-liner Nicholas DesLauriers scored a natural hat trick, the goals coming within about eleven minutes of the opening faceoff.

So the Ducks were to play the Blues again. Most people assumed it would be a continuation—just over half of one period had been played, after all. But it was announced that the teams would play sixty minutes, though the score would begin tied 1-1. Before the game, the talk was all about the stats and how they would work. Just for instance, Hampus Lindholm had assisted on the Ducks goal, scored by Adam Henrique. But Lindholm was injured and would not play.

He would, therefore, get an assist in a game that he did not dress for. Weird. Other players were different from the first game, which was, after all, before a handful of Ducks were traded to Anaheim from various other teams. For the Ducks, 40% of the lineup was different. These players did not participate in the original game: Backes, Milano, Rowney, Hakanpaa, Heinen, Irwin, Sherwood, and Stolarz.

The “first” St. Louis goal (the one tallied in actual  time in February) was scored by Ivan Barbashev. At least he was in the lineup for the new/old game as well, as was Jordan Kyrou, who assisted on that marker.

Before the game began, the Ducks had a brief tribute to the first responders who saved Bouwmeester’s life, and they provided an update which indicated that his health is strong now. He was not in attendance.

The whole event on the 11th was shocking and disturbing, as witnesses told me. I wondered whether there would be holdover. PTSD. Uneasiness at being back at the scene of the tragedy (albeit one with a positive outcome). And in fact, the Blues started slowly. But they scored a power play  goal in period one, a frame in which the Ducks took two minor penalties  to St. Louis’s one.

And when the scoresheet was distributed in the press box, there it was: at a time of 0:00, Adam Henrique scored, assisted by Lindholm and Manson. Same thing for Barbashev. Pietrangelo’s goal, the one that actually took place on this calendar day, was listed next. The time was a less-eerie 16:08. So the first period ended 1-0, or 2-1 officially.

But here’s an anomaly: the players on the ice during those first two goals were listed as the ones who started the game tonight for Anaheim. And St. Louis. Some of them had not been even on these teams when the original dozen minutes were played. What does that do for their plus-minus? The word the press got was that only goals, assists, and points would carry over. If the game ended 2-1, or 8-1, in other words, Jake Allen, the evening’s starter, would get a shutout. But  none of these numbers will make any sense in 100 years. Goals were scored at no time. There were 28 total players on the Anaheim team. The minutes of eight of them would be erased. Others would have played more minutes than their totals, which take into account only this night, will reflect.

So let’s tally up: players not in the lineup got points. A goalie could get a shutout while allowing a goal. And the plus-minus would be credited to guys who might not even have been in California when the goals tallied against them were scored. And the goals were scored without shots on goal being credited for them, so those numbers will forever be off. So will the goalie’s stats, because Allen, who was in net for the first goal (the one scored in February), doesn’t have that shot count against him. Nor the goal, even though there obviously  was a shot, and he obviously let in the goal.

The game proceeded with another first—the first goal of his career by Jani Hakanpaa. It was assisted by Henrique, gaining his first, or second, point of the game, depending upon how you count it. The goal came right off the faceoff, a clean win back to the point to his right by Henrique. Hakanpaa wristed it low and hard, and it eluded everyone, including Allen. So the possibility of playing in a 2-1 game and getting a shutout was off for Allen, as it had been earlier for Stolarz. The score was 1-1. Or 2-2.

Then another kinda weirdness: the Ducks were being assessed a delayed penalty. The delay went on with Allen out for probably a minute. Adam Henrique made a courageous block, and had his stick broken. The Blues still held it, running the puck around the zone. Finally, they set up a tap-in goal by Zach Sanford. The length of delay was the longest I recall for a long time.

So the game was 3-2, or 2-1 on tonight’s scale, as the second period ended. The Ducks have been strong, and so might have come back, but though several of them had a strong period (Sherwood and Steele in particular), Allen was good.  Stolarz was excellent, also, swallowing up a number of hard drives, and all that was left was for an empty-net goal to seal it. That happened with a minute to go. The bizarre world of the game was complete. Afterwards, the matter was commented on by both sides.

Pieterangelo said, “Once the game gets going, the adrenaline gets going, your mind starts playing and you forget about it. I think we did a pretty good job there of not really bringing it up. Our focus was on the game, and we did a pretty good job of doing that.”

IH asked Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins what he had said to prepare his crew for this contest, in terms of the Bouwmeester situation. He responded, “That was, the guys were talking about it a few days ago, kind of leading in. I can’t remember when; the days  bleed together for us a lot of the time, but it was more the guys  were in the players’ lounge chatting, having a coffee, and it got brought up, like, ‘Hey, that make-up game’s coming.’ They  were kind of just reliving that night, more in a joyous way in how the first responders, both training staffs, how well prepared they were, and what great hands we’re so fortunate to be in here, if something like that happens. And just how amazing it is, that a guy goes through that on the bench, and hours later, he’s talking to his teammates and family. We’ve got some guys who know Jay very well, and they’re ecstatic that he’s doing well.”

Hockey and perspective. Hard to get in today’s circumstances. Perhaps harder to get in tomorrow’s. The rest of the presser was concentrated on the virus concerns.

 

Notes

Who knows if, by the time you read this, the NHL might have cancelled its season. That’s the rumor at this time. Dallas Eakins had some suggestions: “We need a massive breakout of kindness . . . alertness . . .  awareness, and to take these things very seriously. . . .  This is when communities come together.”

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