Junior Year #6: PB&J
OK, so amongst all the other stuff this amazing update gives us to chew on, I wanna talk about the hockey.
Specifically, about why Jack’s taking so many dirty hits in this game. Not the puck; the puck is probably an accident.
But look at this boarding:
And this elbow:
And this is egregious high-sticking:
Now, checking into the boards is within the bounds of ordinary game-play. But the expression not just on Jack’s face but on the bystanders’ faces, plus the fact that he went into the boards face-first instead of shoulder-first, says that a) he got hit REALLY hard, and b) he was probably checked from behind, which is boarding, and is a penalty.
So is elbowing, and so is high-sticking. Boarding and high-sticking can become double-minors (4 minutes) or majors (5 minutes) if the player is injured or the officials judge there was deliberate violence or an attempt to injure. In that ref’s shoes, I’d think very seriously about making that high-sticking a double minor, especially if that was the guy with the elbow. It takes a pretty solid uppercut to knock someone’s helmet off.
Now, Jack is very, very good at hockey. He’s also a rookie at the start of his first NHL season. He’s scored one goal that we know of. He’s got a reputation, and he’s got The Name. It wouldn’t be too weird for an opposing team to put a really good man on him and tell that player to stick to him like glue.
Inviting between 6 and ten minutes of penalties, and the resulting power-plays, to shut him down, though? Two minutes of penalty-kill is a long time in a hockey game. Six minutes is a very long time. Ten minutes is an eternity.
If Jack is really that shit-hot, handing the Falconers that many power-plays with him on the ice seems … deeply unwise.
So, here are my theories, none of them supported by anything in particular:
1) Someone on the opposing team has a grudge. Maybe it’s from the Q, maybe it’s about Bad Bob, maybe it’s from college, maybe it’s something else.
Against this: it seemed to be at least two different players. Also, Jack doesn’t seem to have a lot of traits that would make him that kind of enemies.
2) The opposing team knows about the anxiety and the OD and they’re cold-bloodedly setting out to see if they can crack him.
Against this: fear of injury isn’t really his weak spot, plus that seems a bit vicious even for professional sports. The kid hasn’t even established himself as a serious threat yet.
3) Ngozi wants to underline that the NHL is a whole ‘nother deal from college hockey, and it’s a much nastier game, and so Jack has to deal with that. Which he seems to be doing, by and large.
Against this: it’s a bit over-the-top, as I said at the beginning. It could just be going for drama and not doing the math, I guess.
Or it could be the set-up for some serious hockey drama, and I admit I’m kind of hoping it is.