HIFK beats Kärpät 3-2
HIFK travelled some 300 miles north from Helsinki all the way to Oulu for tonights game against Kärpät (The Stoats/Ermines in English). The game was the last match for the club before the Christmas break. The two teams have a history this season already with back-to-back games in October. Kärpät won both games 4-1 and 4-5.
The second visit ended under controversial circumstances as HIFK's captain Ville Peltonen got a match penalty from an illegal hit to the head on Kärpät's Ivan Huml. Huml apparently suffered concussion on the play. However it remained debatable whether Peltonen's hit was an intentional hit to the head and whether Huml suffered the concussion on that particular play. Some sources claim that Huml was already out of it as Ville Varakas had hit him hard on the same shift prior to contact with Peltonen. Therefore, that might have added some extra tension to the air in tonight's game.
HIFK's away performance has been poor this season and therefore the odds seemed to have favored Kärpät before the match. On the HIFK personnel front, HIFK got a few more key players back to its roster for tonight so winning became an easier target to accomplish. Defenders Ville Varakas had recovered from his injury and Mikko Jokela had cleared his 4 game suspension. Especially Ville Varakas is an important piece for HIFK as he was the team's point leader by the time of his injury. In Perreault's line, Thomas Nykopp is with the Finnish Junior team getting ready for the World Juniors and he was replaced by Arttu Luttinen.
Leading up to tonight's match, HIFK's power play capabilities were second in the league's power play effectiveness ranking. Another point to have noticed coming into this match was the Perreault-Perrault combination. They are increasingly getting more attention from the opponents, so it is evident that tonight the power play will need more variation as the head coach of Kärpät has surely scouted the Perreault-Perrault combination. As the result showed for this match, Kärpät successfully stamped out both players with no goal or assist coming from them tonight. Poor goal scoring on away games has plagued HIFK so far this season. Tonight, Ville Varakas' return might have enabled some new possibilities on the scoring side due to his play making abilities.
As for Kärpät, Jussi Jokinen (Carolina Hurricanes) returned to the roster as another lockout player and Kyle Turris (Ottawa Senators) traveled home earlier this week. On his way out, Turris managed to raise a "media turmoil" in Finnish tabloids, as he had made critical remarks about the quality of food in Finland for American press. Turris was particularly critical towards a road side diner chain ABC. His team Kärpät would use those restaurants regularly as lunch stops on road game travels. Editors note: Turris is spot on with his criticism on the food at the ABC. IMHO The small nation's press is particularly sensitive to foreign criticism on their food.
Matty's game tonight:
Perreault, missing linemate Thomas Nykopp (due to the WJC commitment) and also being targeted over his recent success with Joel P., was kept scoreless, assistless, as well as PIM's-less. Not much happened other than over the entirety of the game, he played the role of support and was able to manage the ice earning him no on-ice against goals. He continues to average around 16 minutes of on-ice action, working 16:44 with 5 SOG's. It's not clear if Matty P will come back to Canada to spend the holidays but the team is on break until next Friday when they will be playing at home against Tappara. Going into this break, HIFK is 8th in the league with 49 points. To put things into perspective, Jokerit has 65 and are currently in the solid 1st spot.
Recap video of match
Recap photos of match
(More over at Jatkoaika.com)