Threeze Frame: Blake Geoffrion’s Hat Trick, 20 March 2011
As someone who has never played hockey or studied it at any level, I’m uniquely qualified to offer my analysis of crucial plays in key games and great moments from the past.
Today, with former Nashville Predator Blake Geoffrion announcing his retirement, I’ll examine the footage of his greatest NHL accomplishment: a hat trick against the Sabres in Buffalo on March 20, 2011.
I’m not going to bother looking up the game information for this one and instead well rely on my impeccable memory (here is the box score if you really must look at it). I’m pretty sure this game was on a Sunday and I’m fairly certain it started at like 2 or 3 in the afternoon Nashville time. I cooked an early dinner — some French chicken deal, far above my usual middle-brow fare — and I had to run into the living room when Boomer scored those goals. I probably cackled.
Anyway, here’s the video from the NHL of the trick, featuring the dulcet tones of Pete Weber and Terry Crisp:
My favorite part of this hat trick is that Barry Trotz probably wept when it happened, as it was the Predsiest hat trick of all time, seeing as how none of those things that resulted in goals would qualify as shots if they hadn’t resulted in goals. Essentially, Boomer scored three goals on no shots. Truly, that is The Predator Way.
Alright here we go. The clip starts out with Colin Wilson carrying the puck. I know it’s Colin Wilson because he’s wearing a Predators jersey while carrying the puck into the zone, a Venn diagram that doesn’t intersect too often:
This was still in the era of “Holy Cow” Colin Wilson, so we’re lucky, he didn’t skate to the middle of the ice and try to take on three guys instead of the two. Instead, he actually passes to J.P. Dumont, carefully avoiding participation in the play as best he can, as is his wont (NB: Jeep is sorta retired now, but he plays men’s A-League in Nashville from time-to-time; shortly after the Preds waived him, he was playing a team which featured my buddy Snugs in goal. Jeep had like seven goals that night, including one from the blue line. Interestingly, his rec team was rocking Habs jerseys and I resisted the temptation of starting a reasonably credible rumor) :
Anyway, Dumont does a nice job here drawing a crowd and then dumping a nifty one back to Wilson.
The above shot is the first appearance of Boomer, coming down the near side wearing No. 5. Wilson is in his typical 2011 position of skating in on three guys all by himself. But! He gets a wild hair:
As the above photo shows, Wilson slides it to a wide-open Boomer, who has an undefended path to the net, so of course, being a good Predator, he tries his dangedest to pass to Dumont, knowing full-well Jeep would also pass it and Blake would get credited with the most Predator of statistics — a secondary assist on a goal scored by a defenseman.
Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men:
Some backchecking doofus pushes the puck beyond Ryan Miller.
Everybody is looking behind Miller, but I’m pretty sure only Colin Wilson there in the far face-off circle knows it’s a goal. Until…
Celebration! Let’s look at the reverse to get the whole story:
Look at the Flortheast dingbat falling all over himself.
Alright. On to goal number two, which begins with an assemblage in the far corner:
There’s our Blake, doing battle with future Predator Paul Gaustad. Sergei Kostitsyn is over there and another Predator is on the ground. It must be a defenseman, because Dumont (as usual) is about fifteen miles away from the action. Notice the score and clock. A little more than 2:30 minutes left and the Preds are down two.
So, in the above, the puck has come behind the net and Geoffrion gives chase. Dumont has disappeared. Of course.
Either he steals it or the Sabre tried to skate off and forgot the puck. Either way Geoffrion’s got it on Miller’s left. And he sets to bangin’:
And the next thing ya know, the puck is in the net and the Sabres nonetheless set to the set-to:
Alright so the final goal of the hat trick. An offensive zone face-off with about 90 seconds left. Boomer is actually taking the face-off despite Mike Fisher being out there, although, certainly, Fish could have gotten kicked out prior to this.
So Geoffrion has not only taken the face-off, he’s won it and as Pete Weber announces Anders Lindback is coming off for the extra skater, the Preds try to work the puck back to a defenseman and they do, to big Cody Franson:
What the hell is Kostitsyn doing? Is he trying to go off for an ill-timed and ill-located change? Follow the puck closely!
The blurry man in white on the far left is Geoffrion. While the puck is tough to see, you can see that he’s lifted his stick and turned it. Good news, gang!
It’s behind you, Miller. Celebration!
The Preds would go on to win on a goofy OT goal by Marty Erat and the game started a bit of hot run to end the 2010-11 season for the Preds, who’d go on and win their first playoff series against the Ducks.
A couple of observations here:
- Only two players who appear in this footage for Nashville (Fisher and Wilson) are still on the Predators. Geoffrion’s retired, Dumont might as well be, Jon Blum is in Minnesota, Franson is in Toronto, Erat is in D.C., Kostitsyn’s in the KHL, Obie is in Edmonton (?). Even Lindback, mentioned as skating off, is in Tampa. This wasn’t that long ago…and yet.
- This game may have started the weird animosity between the Preds and the Sabres, which culminated in Jordin Tootoo running Ryan Miller and Gaustad yelling at loveable Lindback that he was “next.” And now the Sabres are going gold, too.
- According to the story from Bucci (the Geoffrions, by the way, are definitely the kind of people who have a hockey story to shop and agree Buccigross is the one to write it), Blake was in the hospital under the name “George Benson.” Wonder which George Benson they were hinting it?
We here at III Communication wish Boomer the best (in part because this game was so incredible and in part because he’s from ’round here), even if he is working for Columbus. Which is not Conference III.