Saturday, December 7, 2019

Nick Paul: Two Autographed Cards

First things first: Nick Paul was a power forward in Juniors who didn't quite live up to that reputation in the AHL afterwards, but with 9 points in 25 games with the Ottawa Senators so far in 2019-20, it feels like the 24-year-old, 6'3", 220-pound winger is getting a feel as how to translate that in the Big Show. However, he'd left Wednesday's game against the Edmonton Oilers in the first period with a neck contusion, so he wasn't playing at 100% against the Philadelphia Flyers this afternoon.

Second: Flyers gonna Flyer. It looks like a bench that has Alain Vigneault to lead it and Michel Therrien, Mike Yeo and Ian Laperriere wants to bring grit back after the Ron Hextall/Dave Hakstol talent-driven years, as the Flyers players took exception to many a hard, legal, quality hit by the Sens to retaliate, cheap-shot and goat Ottawa players into fighting.

Joel Farabee initiated a fight with Jean-Gabriel Pageau of all people for a clean hit Pageau had laid out on his prior - what ever happened to taking note of a guy's number and trying to get him back later? Does Farabee not trust himself enough to put himself in a position to either hit Pageau back or strip him off the puck in a manner that'll make it on a highlights reel? Pageau defended himself ok and threw a decent couple of shots, but someone should clock that rookie to teach him some respect.

Which brings me to Jakub Voracek. I like him a lot and will continue to defend his play and effort (when defensible) even as the 60-point seasons become more common than the 80-point ones, but seriously, it's not his role to pick a fight with Paul after the Sens laid big hits out on Travis Konecky (a masterclass center-ice hit by Mark Borowiecki, the guy who stopped a robbery in Vancouver earlier this week) and Farabee:

It was a case where I had to root for Paul, who dished out a couple of nice uppercuts, not just because the Sens were playing clean and didn't deserve to get called out on their hits, but also because Paul was damn close to having had a concussion just three nights ago and this dickhead chose him as the scapegoat to try to change the momentum of the game.

It did, as the Flyers ended up intimidating their way to a 4-3 win, and now head coach D.J. Smith has to convince his team that the pain they endured in a losing cause wasn't worth it, but perhaps just a tiny bit more pain - 5% more - would have resulted in a win, and that's pain that's worth the effort.

So Nick Paul and Jean-Gabriel Pageau deserve stars in their notebooks today, as does Borowiecki - and the Flyers earned a note in the teacher's binder that they are not mature enough to be patient, not smart enough to be strategic and win clean, not brave enough to fight fire with fire, and not talented enough to keep up with a team that was destined to be a bottom-two this season. They are once again bullies, but probably not tough enough to handle big boys like the Boston Bruins or St. Louis Blues.

Here is Paul wearing the Sens' best-looking jersey of all time, the "Black O", on card #299 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 MVP set:
And here's a close-up of his face, wearing Ottawa's white (away) uniform, on card #P-107 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Series 2 collections and UD Portraits sub-set:
He signed both "Rookie" cards in blue sharpie last year, when the Sens lost 5-2 against the Montréal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

He suited up for Team Canada at the 2015 World Juniors, and one of his 3 goals (in 7 games) was scored in the final against Team Russia, helping the Canadians win gold on home soil in a 5-4 game.

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