Before the season began, I wrote a couple of scouting reports on some of the players new to the Oilers' organization (namely Colin Fraser and Alexandre Giroux), and the next man on the list was Kurtis Foster. The problem was, I didn't think about how much more time it would take to do a shift-by-shift analysis of a top four defender as compared to a marginal forward, so this one took quite a bit longer than expected, but I think it's still helpful to look at now. Foster has had a rough first few games with the Oilers, so maybe a close look at one of his games from the middle of last season can shed light on some of his strengths and weaknesses, and give us some indication of what we can expect going forward. After the jump, I've written out some general impressions, and have also provided the play-by-play for all of Foster's shifts for those interested in seeing where those impressions come from.
If you find these scouting reports helpful, let me know in the comments which Oiler you'd like to have broken down shift by shift next. Whoever gets mentioned the most over the next few days will be my next target.
In this game, Kurtis Foster played with the most talented players on his team and against some pretty talented opponents. He didn't quite make twenty minutes, but it was the kind of ice time you'd expect someone to get as a top four defender, and similar to what he'll see in Edmonton. On the whole, I think he performed pretty well. He plays a conservative game, and seems very aware of his limitations. Although he's quite (okay, very) slow, he makes himself difficult to beat to the net with speed by giving up both blue-lines regularly and using his reach to limit shooting and passing options. It's obviously not ideal or even all that effective in limiting the marginal chances around the edge of the scoring area, but it does make high quality chances harder to come by. He does the same when defending set plays in his own zone, relying mostly on proper positioning and reach to defend. He sometimes gets caught chasing, but his awareness of lanes is a strong point that helps him to recover. He's a physical player in that he'll use his size well to protect the puck and assert his position, as well as hit to knock opponents off the puck. He doesn't, however, look to hit (i.e. "finish his checks") unless there's very little danger of a play developing for the opposition, which I think is a good thing since more hitting would likely result in him constantly being out of position given his lack of speed. Even now he relies a lot on his partner to chase down pucks for him, so he certainly can't afford to run around (or be paired with another slowpoke - a Strudwick-Foster pairing would be hilariously awful). When he has time with the puck, Foster shows nice touch with his passing, even across long distances, but if he's under pressure, he moves the puck quickly to "safe" areas that aren't always so safe (i.e. rim it around the boards). In this game, he looked to me like a competent NHL defender, and I'm somewhat optimistic that he'll be better for the Oilers than he's shown in the first four games, perhaps even providing quality top four minutes on many nights.
Shift by Shift
19:44 to 19:17 of 1st period, 0-0 tie, 5v5 - Foster comes out with partner Victor Hedman for an OZ draw after the Blackhawks ice the puck. The FO is scrambled, but Alex Tanguay picks up the loose puck. He moves it to Hedman at the point, and Hedman moves in to take a wrist-shot, but Dustin Byfuglien (he's playing forward) makes a standing block. The puck bounces off of Byfuglien toward the blue-line and Foster moves up to keep the puck in and prevent a 2-on-1 by putting the puck safely to the far boards. Tanguay wins control of the puck there and moves it to Lecavalier who takes a shot that misses the net. Tanguay picks up the puck behind the net and moves it up the near boards for Foster. Foster takes a rising wrist-shot that makes it through a bunch of bodies, but Antti Niemi makes the save. The rebound comes to the Blackhawks, and the Lightning defenders decide to give up the line. Kris Versteeg receives a pass from Byfuglien in his skates, but manages to skate it out of his zone. It's a 2-on-2, so Foster steps up to challenge Versteeg at the near boards on the DZ blue-line and wins the puck. He pushes the puck up the boards and the two teams battle in the NZ. The puck jumps up, and John Madden catches it; he tries to leave it for a teammate, so a hand-pass is called, which ends the play.
17:35 to 16:42 of 1st period, 0-0 tie, 5v4 - Foster is out to start the Lightning power play, and Martin St. Louis is on the other point. Vincent Lecavalier loses the draw to Madden, and the Blackhawks ice the puck. Foster is the first man back for the Lightning; he grabs the puck from Antero Niittymaki behind the net and skates up-ice. Foster is moving through the middle of ice and he passes it to Lecavalier on the near boards just before reaching the red-line. Lecavalier tries to tip the puck into the OZ, but the puck hits Duncan Keith just over the blue-line, and Keith immediately chops the puck back into the NZ. Foster is there first, but he needs to battle for the loose puck with Troy Brouwer. Brouwer wins the puck forward to Madden who then dumps it back into Tampa's zone. This time St. Louis picks up the puck behind the net, and Foster skates ahead of him through the middle, acting as a decoy. The Lightning try to break in on the far side this time, when St. Louis makes a pass to Alex Tanguay who's on the far boards by the OZ blue-line. Tanguay skates into the zone, but he's hit into the boards by Brent Seabrook, and Marian Hossa comes down to pick up the loose puck. Hossa moves it back to Keith behind the net, and Lecavalier comes down to put some pressure on. Keith fires it up the near boards for Toews, but Foster pinches down and Toews can't get control; the puck slides back to the blue-line where St. Louis is covering for Foster. St. Louis takes a quick wrist-shot from the point that gets deflected (poorly) by Paul Szczechura into the far corner. Szczechura gets to the puck first, and moves it below the goal-line for Tanguay. Tanguay tries to move it to Lecavalier, but the pass is intercepted by Keith who sends it down the ice. St. Louis goes back to retrieve the puck while Foster heads to the bench.
14:51 to 14:11 of 1st period, 0-0 tie, 5v5 - Foster and Victor Hedman come out for a NZ draw along with the line of St. Louis, Lecavalier, and Tanguay. The Hawks counter with Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, and Andrew Ladd. Lecavalier beats Sharp on the draw and the puck comes to Hedman in the DZ. Hedman passes the puck across to Foster on the near boards. Foster skates toward the blue-line, but Byfuglien closes in on him, so he passes the puck cross-ice to Tanguay and takes a hit. Tanguay brings the puck into the OZ, and gets the puck behind the net where he and St. Louis cycle the puck. St. Louis eventually gets the puck to Lecavalier in the slot who gets a good scoring chance, but Niemi makes the save. St. Louis retrieves the rebound behind the net and moves the puck back to Hedman at the far point. Hedman then moves the puck across to Foster, but his pass is about five or six feet too far forward, so Foster can't do much with it; he beats Ladd to the puck along the boards, and chips it into the near corner. Lecavalier ends up with the puck in the near corner, and he protects it well. His pass across to Tanguay on the far side of the goalmouth misses, but it would have been a great scoring chance if they'd connected. Hedman pinches down to get the loose puck on the far boards, but Byfuglien is able to chip the puck out. Foster read that play well, and has come across the ice to cover for his partner outside the OZ. He retrieves the puck and pushes it back into the OZ, though not deep. Tanguay moves in to forecheck, which allows the remaining Lightning players to change.
12:08 to 11:11 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman come out for an OZ FO on the near side with Lecavalier, Tanguay, and St. Louis. The Blackhawks counter with Madden, Versteeg, and Byfuglien. Lecavalier gets booted from the FO circle, and Madden beats St. Louis on the draw, getting the puck back to Duncan Keith. Keith moves it across to Byfuglien for a breakout on the far side, but the puck hops over his stick. Both Hedman and Foster have backed off the line, but Hedman moves up when he sees the puck is loose and dumps it back into the OZ. The Lightning need to tag up, so they drop into a 1-2-2, and Chicago sets up an attack in their own end. Keith makes a cross-ice pass from his own zone to Madden on the far boards at Tampa's blue-line. Madden carries the puck down into the corner, and he's chased by Hedman. Foster moves to the front of the net. Seabrook pinches down and gets a pass from Madden that he carries behind the net. Foster chases him down, which leaves Byfuglien in front with St. Louis. Seabrook gets a pass through to Byfuglien, but he fans on it, so there's no shot. Foster comes back out front to cover Byfuglien as the puck comes to Keith at the point. Keith takes a slap-shot that gets blocked by St. Louis and ends up in the near corner. St. Louis gets to the loose puck and dumps it into the NZ. The Blackhawks carry it back into their zone and the Lightning drop into the 1-2-2 again. The Hawks are able to make a few passes to get the puck to Keith past the first forechecker just into the NZ. Keith then moves the puck to Versteeg on the near boards at Tampa's blue-line. Foster closes the gap on Versteeg but doesn't move in for a hit; instead, he tries to get his stick in Versteeg's passing lanes while making sure that Versteeg can't skate by him. Versteeg eventually tries a pass through to Madden on the far side heading to the net, but it's way too far in front of him, and the puck goes to the far corner. Madden grabs the puck in the corner and skates up the boards, followed by Hedman. He then drops the puck back into the corner for Byfuglien who meets Szczechura in the corner. Foster moves down toward that battle, as does Versteeg, but neither of them engage. Madden comes down to join the play and Versteeg skates up the near boards. Madden fishes the puck out, and quickly moves it to Versteeg. With Hedman now in front, Foster rushes over to the far boards (normally Hedman's side), and pushes Versteeg down. Foster swats at the puck, but Versteeg is back up quickly and it ends up right on his stick. Versteeg moves further up the boards, and Foster follows. Versteeg then passes the puck along the boards for Madden, but Madden can't handle it, and the puck goes into the far corner. Szczechura is there to grab it, and he tries a break-out pass to St. Louis. The pass is deflected (and nearly intercepted) by Byfuglien in the slot, so St. Louis is forced to dive just to poke the puck over the blue-line and down the ice. Icing is waved off and Foster goes to the bench.
9:52 to 9:06 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman hop over the boards with the puck deep in Chicago's end and Steven Stamkos pressing on the forecheck. The Blackhawks are able to control the puck, and Niklas Hjalmarsson skates with it into the NZ. Hjalmarsson moves it to Brouwer just over the red-line, and Brouwer dumps it past Foster into the near corner in Tampa's zone. With that, the Hawks head for a change. Hedman goes back to pick up the puck in the corner, as both teams get set. The Lightning now have Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Tanguay on the ice, and the Blackhawks counter with Sharp, Hossa, and Ladd. The Hawks don't press at all here so Hedman leaves the puck for Lecavalier who picks up speed by skating around the net. Lecavalier moves quickly through the NZ and into the OZ. He leaves the puck for Tanguay who tries to pass across to St. Louis, but they get crossed up and the puck floats to the near boards. There, Hossa wins a battle against St. Louis, and he flips the puck high along the near boards into the NZ. Hedman comes across to glove the puck down, and Foster moves across to the middle of the ice. Hedman tries to shoot the puck up the boards to St. Louis, but that pass is picked off by Hossa who comes into Tampa's zone against Hedman 1-on-1. Hossa can't get to the net, but he does draw a holding penalty on Hedman and still maintains control of the puck in the corner. Sharp skates through the front of the net and gets his stick whacked by Foster on his way by. This play probably happens all the time, but if Sharp's stick had broken, it would have been an easy call and a two-man advantage for Chicago - not a smart play. Anyroad, Hossa controls and makes a pass out to Ladd in the high slot, but the pass is tipped away by St. Louis. The referee decides that didn't constitute control, so play continues, and Seabrook picks up the puck on the far boards. Seabrook moves down the boards, and he's met there by Foster who's left his post in front to Hedman. Foster effectively cuts off Seabrook's lane to the net, so Seabrook tries a shot from the boards, but Foster blocks that with his skate. The puck bounces out to Hossa close to the blue-line, and he tries to move down into the high slot, but Foster pokes the puck away with his stick. Tanguay grabs the loose puck and the play is blown dead.
7:30 to 6:59 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 3v5 - With both Hedman and Ohlund in the penalty box Foster comes out with Matt Smaby and Jeff Halpern to kill some 5-on-3. They hop onto the ice with the puck deep in Chicago's zone. The Blackhawks skate through the NZ, and gain Tampa's zone uncontested. The Lightning set up in a triangle with two men low and one high. Cam Barker has the puck at the blue-line and he passes it across to Sharp on the far boards. Smaby isn't at all quick moving into an inverted triangle, so Sharp has loads of time. He skates to the top of the FO circle and winds for a shot, but instead passes it through the triangle to Dustin Byfuglien inside the FO dot on the near circle. The pass is on the money but Byfuglien fans on his shot, and the puck goes below the goal-line. Byfuglien retrieves the puck there and controls. Foster is on Kris Versteeg in front, but turns to face Byfuglien in the corner and moves down onto the goal-line. Byfuglien passes the puck behind the net to Patrick Kane, and Smaby goes down to hit him. Before the hit, Kane gets the puck to Sharp on the near boards (Foster is back in front marking Versteeg in the slot). Sharp moves the puck to Barker at the line and he winds for a slap-shot. The shot is off, and Foster has done a good job of letting his goalie see the shot, but a bad job of marking Versteeg by pushing Versteeg to one side and falling away to the other, which gives Versteeg a good chance to tip the puck. Fortunately, Halpern partially blocks the shot on the way to the net, and the puck goes into the corner as the first penalty (Hedman's) ends. Kane races to get the puck and Smaby "Iginla's" him into the boards by taking out his feet with his stick, and Kane goes hard into the boards. Halpern touches the puck, and it's another penalty against the Lightning.
6:12 to 5:54 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 4v5 - The puck is deep in Chicago's zone when Foster and Matt Walker jump over the boards to continue this extended penalty kill. Sharp skates with the puck into the NZ, and passes it to Hossa on the near side at Tampa's blue-line. He receives the pass and gains the zone just in front of Walker, while Foster is stationed in front of the net. Hossa passes the puck down into the corner for Versteeg, who moves it back up to Hossa. Hossa draws two defenders in and then moves the puck back to Versteeg. Walker comes down and Versteeg's return pass to Hossa is tipped high in the air. Szczechura collects the loose puck along the near boards and fires it down the ice allowing the penalty killers to change.
4:16 to 3:44 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman are out for a NZ draw with Lecavalier, St. Louis and Tanguay. The Blackhawks counter with Madden, Versteeg, and Byfuglien. Lecavalier wins the draw cleanly to Hedman in the DZ, and Hedman moves it across to Foster. Foster moves the puck cross-ice to Tanguay over the red-line, and Tanguay dumps the puck in. It would have been deep if the puck hadn't hit the referee and stopped halfway along the far boards. Madden is first to the puck, and he skates with it into the far corner before moving it up the boards to Seabrook. Seabrook then moves the puck cross-ice for Versteeg, but it misses him by about twenty feet (seriously); it's out of Foster's reach as well, and the puck goes all the way down the ice. Icing is waved off as Foster lumbers toward his own zone. He's got about three or four strides on Versteeg as he crosses the blue-line, but it ends up being a close race. Foster still ends up being first to the puck, but takes a hit from Versteeg while protecting the puck. He manages to make a hard pass around the near boards, but there's no forward there, and the puck comes back to Keith at the blue-line. Keith tries to pass it down to Versteeg just off the near boards, but Foster steps in front of him and steals the pass. After taking two strides, Foster makes a beautiful flip pass into Chicago's zone for Lecavalier to chase down. Lecavalier does get to the puck, but Seabrook is on him and pushes him off into the corner. With the puck safely in the OZ, Foster goes to the bench.
2:19 to 1:46 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman come out on the fly with the puck deep in Chicago's zone. The forwards on both clubs are also changing here, and that puts Steven Stamkos, Steve Downie, and Ryan Malone out for the Lightning, and Sharp, Byfuglien, and Ladd out for the Blackhawks. As both teams change, Hjalmarsson collects the puck for the Hawks, eventually sending a pass from his zone to Byfuglien at Tampa's blue-line. Byfuglien is hit by Hedman just after he plays the puck off the boards and into Tampa's zone. Foster is first to the loose puck and he carries it behind the net. Ladd follows him and briefly knocks the puck away, but Foster maintains position and control as he skates into the near corner. When Sharp comes down to challenge him, Foster moves the puck hard up the boards for Downie. Downie moves it quickly to Stamkos, and the Lightning have a 3-on-2. Stamkos skates into the OZ, and Downie tries to play trailer on the 3-on-2, but slowing down allows Sharp to catch up. When Stamkos tries to hit Downie with the pass, Sharp breaks up the play, and Ladd picks up the loose puck. Ladd then moves the puck to Byfuglien who carries the puck over the line and moves in 2-on-2 with Cam Barker. Hedman and Foster give up the blue-line, but after crossing the line, Byfuglien skates from the near boards into the middle of the ice, which seems to confuse Foster and Hedman. Foster falls back to the net following Barker, but Hedman looks like he expected Foster to follow Byfuglien. That allows Byfuglien to get an open shot from the middle of the ice. On top of that, Barker beats Foster to the front of the net, but no good scoring chance is generated because Niittymaki directs the rebound off Byfuglien's wrist-shot away from Barker and behind the net. The puck bounces off the boards behind the net and comes around the near boards to Downie who carries it past Sharp at the blue-line and into the NZ. Downie then gets the puck deep and Tampa's defenders go to the bench.
0:56 to 0:00 of 1st period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - This was marked as one of Foster's shifts in the play-by-play, but the Chicago scorer seems to have confused Foster (#6) with Matt Walker (#8). It's surprising to me that the mistake wasn't noticed over a fifty-six second shift, but it serves as a good reminder that almost all of our stats - including time on ice - rely on the observations of others, and sometimes the observers make mistakes.
19:29 to 19:00 of 2nd period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman hop over the boards with Stamkos, Downie, and Malone in the middle of a shift and the puck in the OZ. Jonathan Toews, Troy Brouwer, and Kris Versteeg are out for the Hawks, also in the middle of a shift. Brian Campbell starts with the puck behind his own net. He moves out to the near side and passes the puck to Versteeg on the near boards. Versteeg deflects the puck to Toews in the middle of the ice and Hedman tries to stand him up at the line. Toews gets past Hedman, but he's slowed enough that Malone is on him as he carries the puck through the NZ. Malone rides Toews into the near boards, but Brouwer is there to pick up the loose puck and he moves into Tampa's zone. Brouwer tries to make a pass to Versteeg in the high slot, but Stamkos has come back well and he ties up Brouwer's stick. Foster is also right there, and he grabs the puck, moving it to St. Louis who's a couple of strides closer to the blue-line. St. Louis carries the puck through the NZ until the puck is knocked in the air by Toews. Toews, however, is skating to the bench, so St. Louis sticks with the puck, and eventually moves it ahead for Hedman who's waiting at the OZ line on the far boards. Hedman dumps the puck deep, which allows Foster to head for the bench.
18:14 to 17:08 of 2nd period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v4 - Foster comes out for an OZ draw on the power play. The other Lightning players are Lecavalier, St. Louis, Szczechura, and Meszaros and the Hawks counter with Toews, Hossa, Hjalmarsson and Sopel. The draw is on the near boards, so Foster is starting in the middle of the ice. Lecavalier loses the FO pretty cleanly and Hjalmarsson picks up the puck behind the net. He fires it hard around the boards and Foster is nowhere close to keeping it in the zone, so the Lightning need to regroup behind their net. Meszaros skates the puck up the ice, and passes it to Lecavalier who fires it into the Hawks' zone. The Lightning get a couple of chances to control the puck but they lose it to the aggressive Hawks two or three times, never establishing control, and eventually Hossa is able to slap the puck through the middle of the ice and into Tampa's zone, allowing the Hawks to change. Foster skates back and picks up the puck behind the net from Niittymaki. He skates with the puck over the DZ blue-line and makes a crisp pass to Lecavalier across center on the far boards. Lecavalier skates with the puck into the OZ, and the drops it back for Foster at the point, and the Lightning have established control. Foster skates along the blue-line toward the middle of the ice, but ends up passing the puck to Lecavalier on the half-boards. Lecavalier passes to St. Louis below the goal-line, and then can't handle the return pass. He still has the puck but Kris Versteeg is right on him, so he tries a behind-the-back backhand pass to Foster, but it doesn't have much on it. Foster and Colin Fraser race for it, and Foster is able to tip it back down towards the far boards, but it's out of Lecavalier's reach and Duncan Keith calmly fires the puck out of the zone. Foster tries to knock it down, but he ends up tipping it out of play, and the whistle blows.
13:25 to 12:26 of 2nd period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v4 - Foster comes over the boards with the puck sailing into Tampa's zone. Foster picks up the puck from Niittymaki behind the net and skates slowly into the NZ. When John Madden commits to a challenge, Foster passes the puck to Lecavalier across center along the far boards. Lecavalier then dumps the puck into the OZ. The Lightning are able to retrieve the puck, but the Hawks are putting on substantial pressure on each player with the puck. When it comes to Lecavalier along the far boards, he passes it to Foster at the point. Foster moves it back to Lecavalier, but Lecavalier lets the puck go behind the net for Zenon Konopka (seriously). Konopka is hit hard behind the net, and the puck ends up loose in the near corner. Two Hawks and two Lightning converge, and Konopka eventually wins the puck. He fires it around the net and up the boards to Foster at the far point. Troy Brouwer comes up to challenge as Foster skates across the blue-line, and eventually bounces a pass off the far boards to Lecavalier. Lecavalier skates down toward the goal-line, and then flips a soft backhand to the point in the middle of the ice. Foster is alone at the point, and so he waits there until Madden is sucked in. Once Madden comes close enough, Foster passes the puck to St. Louis in the near FO circle. St. Louis immediately moves the puck cross-ice to Lecavalier and heads for the net, but Lecavalier's return pass is tipped away by Brouwer. Still, a nicely constructed play to open up some space in the middle of the ice. Anyroad, the puck goes to the near corner, and St. Louis is there to pick it up. He moves it around the net for Lecavalier along the far boards, but Lecavalier misses the puck completely. Foster beats a diving Brouwer to the puck at the point, and quickly moves it to Lecavalier along the far boards. Lecavalier tries to move the puck to Jeff Halpern, but both Madden and Brouwer converge on him and the puck trickles back to the point, which works out just fine because Foster steps into a booming shot. Niemi makes the save, but kicks out a big rebound to St. Louis in the near FO circle. St. Louis is worried that his shot won't get through so he goes cross-ice to Lecavalier. All four Hawks' defenders have collapsed down low, so Lecavalier drops it back to the point for Foster who one-times it back on goal. Niemi makes another save and the rebound sits in front. Halpern tries to knock it on goal but it misses the net. Duncan Keith tries to clear the puck, but it heads over the glass, and Keith is penalized for delay-of-game, and the Lightning will have a short 5-on-3. Because it's worth pointing out, this PP set-up is really interesting and seems to be giving the Hawks trouble. The Lightning have got two players down low around the net, a player in each of the FO circles, and one man at the point who's often left open to shut down the other passing lanes. If you have a player with a big point shot, it really works because if the opposition tries to cover him, it opens up a mini-4-on-3 down low.
12:04 to 10:55 of 2nd period, 1-0 Blackhawks, 5v4 - Foster hops out with the puck floating into his own zone just after the 5-on-3 ends. St. Louis grabs the puck and skates up-ice, passing to Lecavalier at the blue-line. Lecavalier circles back toward the near boards, and then passes the puck to Foster on the far side. Foster crosses the DZ blue-line and passes the puck to St. Louis on the near boards. St. Louis skates into the OZ and takes a shot from the boards that Niemi handles easily. The puck goes into the near corner where Sopel beats St. Louis in a battle for the puck. Sopel tries to clear it up the middle, but Foster and Lecavalier are both there to knock the puck back toward the near boards. Stamkos is first to the loose puck, and he immediately goes to St. Louis behind the net. St. Louis moves the puck around to Ryan Malone on the far boards. Malone drops it back to Lecavalier and heads to the side of the net. Lecavalier skates in and tries to pass it back to Foster, but that pass hits Colin Fraser and bounces down in front of him. Hjalmarsson and Lecavalier both chop at the puck and it skips high across the slot and behind the net. St. Louis is first to the puck and he passes it into the crease, but no one can get a stick on it. The puck ends up going back to the point along the far boards, and Foster is there to pick it up. Foster skates across the blue-line, and then passes it down to Lecavalier along the far boards. Lecavalier skates in to the FO dot and takes a wrist-shot that Niemi turns aside. The rebound goes over St. Louis's stick and Patrick Sharp grabs the loose puck and skates up-ice with Colin Fraser on a two-on-one against Foster. Sharp fakes a shot and Foster commits by sliding along the ice, which doesn't work, but does allow enough time for Stamkos to get back on Fraser. Sharp waits for a second and then takes a wrist-shot before more reinforcements arrive. Niittymaki makes the save and holds on for a whistle.
8:29 to 7:55 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Hedman and Foster join Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Tanguay for a FO at center ice against Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, and Andrew Ladd. Lecavalier wins the FO back to Foster, and Foster moves it cross-ice to Hedman on the near side. Hedman passes it cross-ice to St. Louis at the OZ blue-line, and he just tips it down deep into Chicago's zone. The Hawks control and break out easily eventually dumping the puck down into Tampa's zone. Foster is there to pick up the puck behind the net, and the Hawks don't put on much of a forecheck. It's technically a 2-1-2, but the first two guys are skating backwards and allow Foster to skate the puck out of his own end. Foster then moves the puck across the blue-line to Hedman who tries a pass cross-ice to St. Louis, but it misses him and ends up going down into the Hawks' zone and the Lightning are called for icing.
7:55 to 7:48 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Both teams keep the same personnel on the ice for the DZ draw. Sharp wins the draw back, but the puck is moving slowly enough that St. Louis ends up first to the puck, and he skates with it through center and toward the OZ (I checked the play-by-play and it is indeed listed as a Sharp FO win), which allows the defenders to change.
5:41 to 4:50 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - The Lightning make a full change with the puck in Chicago's zone. Foster and Hedman come out with Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Tanguay for a shift against Ben Eager, Tomas Kopecky, and Colin Fraser. In other words, this should be a good shift for the Lightning. As Tampa's guys get on the ice, the Hawks are able to get the puck deep into Lightning territory, but it's quickly brought back up the ice by Lecavalier, and the Lightning are able to control the puck deep in the OZ. The three Lightning forwards work the puck around the perimeter for several seconds until Lecavalier gets a shooting opportunity from the side of the net. His shot hits Seabrook's skate and bounces into the far corner. Fraser is the first man on the puck, and he moves it up the boards to Eager. Foster gives up the blue-line, but when Eager chips it forward, Foster is able to get his stick on the puck and move it back into Chicago's zone. The Hawks immediately move it out, but before they can get the puck deep into Tampa's zone, Eager and Zenon Konopka - who just stepped on the ice - get into a fight.
3:20 to 3:11 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Hedman are out for another shift with Lecavalier, Tanguay, and St. Louis, this time with an OZ FO against Toews, Brouwer, and Versteeg. Lecavalier loses the draw to Toews and the puck ends up on Duncan Keith's stick, but his pass misses Brouwer and goes for icing.
3:11 to 2:59 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - No changes from either team, and Toews wins the draw again, but this time St. Louis is quick into the corner to challenge for the puck and the Lightning take control. St. Louis and Lecavalier pass the puck back and forth along the perimeter trying to create some open space, and eventually St. Louis is knocked down by Toews, and the referee penalizes Toews for tripping.
2:59 to 1:54 of 2nd period, 2-0 Blackhawks, 5v4 - Foster stays out for the power play along with Lecavalier and St. Louis. Those three are joined by Stamkos and Szczechura, and Chicago counters with Madden, Brouwer, Seabrook, and Keith. The FO on the near side results in the puck sailing across the ice into the far corner. Keith is the first man to the puck and he dumps it down the ice. Stamkos retrieves the puck and the eventually gets it to St. Louis on the near boards. St. Louis dumps it into the OZ, but the Hawks are quick to get on the puck and Brouwer fires it back into Tampa's zone allowing all but Madden to change. Madden is in on the forecheck, and he battles with Stamkos for the puck. The two players are leaning one another skating below the goal-line on the near side when Foster comes down and crushes Madden behind the net. Pretty mean play, but it results in the puck floating around the net to a waiting St. Louis. St. Louis skates the puck out before sending it cross-ice to Szczechura who skates into the OZ. The Lightning play the puck around the net and up the far boards until it comes to Foster at the point. Foster skates off the boards to draw the defender (Hossa), and then moves the puck back to Lecavalier on the half-wall. Lecavalier passes to St. Louis behind the net and moves low. Once again, the Lightning have four players below the top of the FO circles, and Foster alone at the blue-line. This draws the defenders down, so St. Louis passes it back to Foster at the point. This draws Hossa towards Foster, so Foster passes it down to Stamkos just inside the near FO circle. Stamkos looks for a shot, but eventually decides to pass the puck across to Lecavalier who then muffs the one-timer. The Hawks recover the puck in the corner and Madden (who's had a very long shift) dumps it down the ice, and Foster heads off.
18:36 to 18:12 to 3rd period, 3-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - After the Lightning get the puck deep, they head for a change, and Foster comes out with Hedman for a shift with Jeff Halpern, Stephane Veilleux, and Alex Tanguay. The Hawks counter with their own set of fresh legs in the form of Jonathan Toews, Troy Brouwer, and Dustin Byfgulien. Toews picks up the puck in Chicago's zone and skates up-ice, almost getting a beautiful scoring chance as he darts into the zone and skates wide around Hedman, but the young defender is able to stick check him just before he cut in towards the net. As the two teams battle for the puck behind the net, Foster sits in front of the goal watching the play and making sure no one sneaks into the slot. The Hawks move the puck to Toews in the high slot and he one-times a shot but it's blocked by Halpern who skates the puck out of the DZ, through the NZ, and into the OZ. He passes the puck off to Tanguay on the far boards after crossing the blue-line and heads for the net. Tanguay takes a long wrister, which Niemi gloves down easiliy and he holds on to get a whistle.
16:50 to 16:19 of 3rd period, 3-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Hedman and Foster come onto the ice as the Lightning forwards are breaking into Chicago's zone. The Lightning control the puck along the perimeter and get it back to Hedman who takes a slap shot from the point, which is blocked and bounces into the corner. The Hawks win the puck and fire it around the boards, but Hedman pinches (Foster drops deep out of the zone to cover) and keeps the puck in. Andrew Ladd ends up getting the puck along the near boards, and he moves it to Hossa just in front of the blue-line. Foster gives up the line while Hedman comes across to challenge, but Hossa is able to move up along the boards. Foster gives up the DZ blueline, but as soon as Hossa slows down to look for a pass, Foster pushes the puck with his stick and Hossa is forced to stop. Sharp goes down behind the net, and Ladd moves out front with Foster marking him. Hossa decides to dump the puck down behind the net for Sharp, who then passes it in front for Ladd, but Foster is able to lift Ladd's stick, and the puck sails through the crease to a waiting Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier throws a home-run pass out to Ryan Malone, but he's just offside.
14:56 to 14:28 of 3rd period, 3-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Hedman and Foster jump out alongside Halpern, Szczechura, and James Wright with the Blackhawks carrying the puck out of their zone. Cam Barker carries the puck past Szczechura and Halpern into the Lightning zone, but Foster is able to use his stick to force Barker into losing control of the puck, and it rolls into the near corner. Madden picks the puck up behind the net for the Hawks and Hedman chases behind on one side. On the other side of the net, Foster is also watching Madden and standing just below the goal-line, which isn't a particularly good situation. Madden is able to get the puck out front for Eager, but the puck goes through his legs and into the high slot. Byfuglien runs into Halpern there, but is able to move the puck back down towards the near corner. Madden easily beats Foster to the puck and moves it to Keith at the point. Foster stays along the near boards, and indeed, Keith throws it along the boards, hoping to get the puck to Madden, which is exactly what happens because Foster misses the puck. Madden is now again set up behind the net with the puck, and Foster leaves his spot along the boards to cover the front of the net. Both Foster and Hedman stay out front this time, so Madden moves the puck all the way back to Seabrook at the point. Seabrook and Keith pass the back and forth twice, but on the second attempt, it squirts out of the zone and the Hawks are offside.
13:59 to 12:57 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster, Hedman, Stamkos, Downie, and Malone all come out for the NZ FO just after the Hawks have scored and Chicago counters with Sharp, Hossa, and Ladd. The Lightning win the draw and move the puck deep into Chicago's zone. After five or ten seconds in Chicago's end, Patrick Sharp gets control of the puck in the far corner and dumps it off the glass. The puck gets by Hedman at the point, and so it's a one-on-one between Foster and Ladd. Foster first tries a stick-check at center but he can't quite reach the puck, and Ladd skates all the way to the near side in an effort to get around Foster wide. By the time they enter the Lightning zone, Ladd has created quite a bit of space for himself, and Foster decides to dive for the puck. Ladd is able to avoid him and gets a scoring chance from well inside the FO circle, but his shot misses wide. Hedman is back in time to grab the puck off the backboards, but his pass to Malone is intercepted at the line by Campbell who passes it quickly to Ladd along the far boards. Both teams battle for the puck along the far boards while Foster stands in position in front of the net, but there are no Hawks there. The puck squirts back to Campbell at the line, but he can't control it and the play moves into the NZ. Hjalmarsson gathers the puck in the NZ, and passes it off to Campbell, who in turn passes it to Ladd along the near boards at Tampa's blue-line. Foster immediately backs off, which allows Ladd to send the puck deep. Campbell pinches down into the corner and picks up the loose puck. He skates around the net and leaves it for Hossa in the far corner before heading back to his spot at the line. Hossa is engaged by Szczechura along the boards, and Foster sneaks below them in case the puck squirts loose. As it turns out, the puck comes out on the other side, but Halpern is there to pick it up. Halpern passes it to Wright who skates out of his zone and into the OZ, which allows Foster and Hedman to change.
12:00 to 11:20 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster is out with Mattias Ohlund as well as Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Tanguay for an OZ draw. The Hawks counter with Madden, Versteeg, and Ladd. Madden wins the FO but the Lightning forwards but major pressure on Chicago's defense. Nonetheless, Keith is able to get the puck up the boards for Ladd, and Foster decides to give up the line (as does Ohlund on the other side). Ladd passes the puck cross-ice to Versteeg who then skates over the red line and dumps the puck deep into Tampa's zone. The puck comes around the boards to the near corner and Foster should be first to the puck, but Ladd is in quickly and the pounds Foster into the boards, which allows Madden to retrieve the puck higher on the boards. Madden then moves the puck to Ladd in the corner who then passes it to Versteeg behind the net. Ohlund and Foster both pursue Versteeg below the goal-line, and Versteeg can't get rid of the puck before Foster shoves him down with one hand. Foster, however, can't immediately find the puck (it actually looks like he's trying to get a peek at the referee to see if he's been called for either roughing or hooking), and Ladd comes in to take it away. He passes it to Madden just outside the near FO dot, and he takes a quick shot, but it's blocked by Ohlund. Ohlund then moves the puck to Tanguay who passes it to St. Louis at the blue-line. St. Louis carries it over the red-line and dumps it in, which allows the Lightning to change.
7:45 to 6:57 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster comes out for a shift with Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Tanguay with the Hawks in control of the puck in their own zone. The Hawks move the puck out, and dump it into Tampa's territory allowing their forwards to change (Madden, Versteeg, and Eager come onto the ice). Andrej Meszaros picks up the puck behind the net and reverses it to the near corner before getting his legs kicked out by Versteeg (no penalty). Foster grabs the puck in the corner and tries to pass it to Lecavalier, but the pass is too far for him, and the puck slowly travels into Chicago's zone. As the Hawks try to move up-ice St. Louis intercepts a pass and skates back into the OZ. St. Louis passes the puck to Tanguay behind the net, and Tanguay then moves it to Foster sneaking in from the point. Foster takes a one-timer from just outside the far FO dot and Niemi makes the save. The long rebound comes out to Tanguay who tries to pass it cross-ice to Lecavalier but that's blocked. The puck comes to Foster - who's still quite low in the OZ - along the far boards and he also tries a pass, but it's intercepted by Versteeg. Upon seeing that, Foster immediately begins to retreat. After the Hawks dump the puck deep, they go off to change and Foster follows suit as Matt Walker goes back to retrieve the puck.
6:10 to 5:26 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Meszaros come out with the Hawks in control of the puck in their own zone. The forwards out for Tampa are Konopka, Fedoruk, and Veilleux, and Chicago counters with Fraser, Versteeg, and Kopecky, so the big guns are taking a rest. Anyroad, Versteeg carries the puck out of his zone and moves past Tampa's blue-line before passing it off to Fraser. Fraser attempts a shot, but it's tipped behind the net by Fedoruk. Foster loses a race for the puck to Kopecky, who then moves the puck to Hjalmarsson at the point, but his shot misses the net, and bounces to Foster. Foster sends the puck softly up the boards to Fedoruk who receives the pass and moves it up to Veilleux. Veilleux gains the OZ and the Lightning get the puck deep. As Chicago starts to break out, Foster and Walker back off the blue-line. The Hawks move into the NZ and dump the puck deep. Walker moves below the goal-line on the near side to get the puck, while Foster goes to the far side to receive a pass, which comes as expected. Foster then bounces the puck off the boards for Veilleux, and although Sharp puts on some pressure, the Lightning are able to get the puck out, which allows Foster to head to the bench.
4:43 to 4:02 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Meszaros come out after the Lightning move the puck deep into Chicago's zone. Sharp, Hossa, and Ladd are out there for Chicago, and are at the end of their shift, whereas Lecavalier and St. Louis are fresh for the Lightning. But Lecavalier isn't able to win the puck along the boards and the Hawks move out of their zone three-on-two. Both Foster and Meszaros back off both lines and don't make any effort to challenge until they're level with the FO dots. By that time Sharp has moved to a prime shooting location just above the near-side FO dot, and Ladd has gone to the net. Hossa has the puck on the far side, so he moves it across to Sharp for a nice scoring chance, but Niittymaki makes the save and directs the puck to the corner. Meszaros is first to the puck and his pass to St. Louis enables the Lightning to clear the zone, but the Hawks regain control and dump it right back in, allowing their forwards to change. Foster is the first man back for the puck and scoops it up behind the net. He calmly surveys his options before taking a couple of strides and then hitting Tanguay with a pass just over the blue-line. Tanguay then flips the puck high into Chicago's zone for Lecavalier, and the defenders both head to the bench.
1:40 to 1:12 of 3rd period, 4-0 Blackhawks, 5v5 - Foster and Meszaros are out for a near side DZ draw along with Konopka, Fedoruk, and Veilleux against Sharp, Kopecky, and Ladd. The FO is scrambled to the near boards, and Ladd gets inside position on Foster to take the puck. He dumps it behind the net for Kopecky, but Meszaros intercepts and moves the puck up the far side boards where the forwards are able to work it out of the zone. Veilleux has the puck just over the blue-line, and he passes cross-ice to Foster in the NZ. Foster crosses the blue-line and takes a quick slap shot, which Niemi catches. Fedoruk then purposely (and needlessly) runs into Niemi, which starts a scrum. Foster comes down and grabs onto Kopecky, but isn't really "into it" either physically or verbally. Fedoruk gets a minor and a ten minute misconduct to end his night, and Foster is on the bench for the rest of the night.