For those of us who follow hockey, it’s always great to see a plugging, hard-working forward make a stellar play to score a goal. After all, these players don’t have ridiculous contracts or special clauses like a bonafide superstar; they just have a duty on their team to play with conviction and heart.
While his team was shorthanded, Skille picked off an errant pass from a Sharks player, skated to his left before turning up ice, posted up on Dan Boyle, and simply used his body to skate right through him. Upon nearing the net, Skille was so strong on the puck that he was able to slip the puck under Thomas Greiss and into the goal, even though he never truly got a shot off. With a little “puck luck”, Skille gave the Panthers their fourth goal, which would wind up being the game winner.
Skille’s goal didn’t look pretty, but as the saying goes, ugly is beautiful. Our announcer Steve Goldstein referred to it on air as his favorite goal of the season, even after calling tic-tac-toe goals between our top line or pretty finishes on breakaways. Skille’s goal was the best because of the sheer determination he displayed getting to the net, the incredible strength on the puck to force it under Greiss, and great feeling we all had for one of the guys lower on the totem pole scoring. Skille’s goal resulted in an accumulation in hard work.
Well, the goal was nice, but the rest of the game Skille played makes him deserving of a gold star. My favorite play of his was when he took a puck from his own end, sprinted up the ice on the left side, and attempted a similar move on Brent Burns that he would later do on Boyle for the shorty. Only this time Burns is a much bigger man, and he got pushed straight into the boards behind the net. The man they call “Crash” lost control and crashed into the boards hard. When he got up and shook off the ice, he found Burns was given a roughing call and his team would be on the power play. Skille made a hard-nosed play to get his team a power play opportunity, and that kind of effort doesn’t get lost on the fans, his teammates, or on management.
And yet, I haven’t even mentioned all the good work he did on the penalty kill, too. He intercepted passes, picked a few pockets, and battled for pucks along the boards. Even though Skille is not the most incredible talented winger on the Panthers, he demonstrated Saturday night just how important he can be to the team. Without Skille, I don’t think the Panthers beat the Sharks in regulation, if at all.
So here’s looking at you, Skille: you played some great hockey against the Sharks, and it’s about time you got some recognition.
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