I’ve had this clip art laying around for over a month now…
I would never question the character or intensity of a player because that’s just not my style. We’ve all gotten hurt at some point in life and done something gutsy, whether playing or working through pain or just sticking it out and not letting on. Just because we didn’t personally witness or notice when Max Afinogenov and Tim Connolly got hurt doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The guy is playing through pain right now and I have to respect him for that, regardless of his IR-plagued past.
Still, I poke fun at his Precious Moments alter-ego because he is one of my favorite players. I promise this is the second and last clip art I will ever download from that site, especially because no one gets the joke. (The filename is “choir timmy”…)
Stupid jokes aside, I was impressed with Tim in his first game back. I hadn’t expected to see him taking Stafford’s place on the Vanek/Roy line at all. I had interpreted his starting the game a ceremonial move at best, letting the crowd give him a cheer before moving him down the depth chart to the second or third line. Maybe he would rotate out with Clarke and finish with a good ten minutes or so of ice time.
My low expectations were actually way, way off. He finished with 18:49 minutes of ice time, near the top of the list of forward TOI. The jump he gave the power play was very noticeable, as he was his old self on the half wall making the pass to Campbell that set up Roy’s power play tally in the second.
As much hype as Tim is given as a “power play quarterback”, when he is out there you can feel the difference. Puck possession was much improved on the man advantage, and even with injury Timmy wasn’t afraid to work down low and take hits to make the play.
The box score tells you he ended up a -1 with a single shot on goal, but sometimes simple numbers can be deceiving. The same box score says that Peters was a defensive asset at +1 as well as an offensive powerhouse with an assist. Which player had a better game? I’d say Timmy by far.
Maybe there is an extra bias there because I want Connolly to play well and be an asset to this team. Seeing him struggle with concussions and groin injuries and be so, so close for the past few years really has made me pull for the guy; and so maybe this is just me searching for good things in his first game back.
Still, I was happy with what I saw on Sunday as well as surprised at how long he lasted. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are better off with a talent like his in the lineup, so hopefully he can keep his game at a level where he deserves to play on the top two lines.
I didn’t expect to see him out there, but he sure looked like he belonged.