Jere Karalahti had his first taste of the NHL last Friday against Detroit, and after being returned to Long Beach, it appears that will be it for the time being. With that in mind, here is the lowdown on his debut.
Firstly, Jere is a big, rugged looking defenseman. As I watched his warm-up in his #8 Kings’ road jersey I thought of what he offered that the two players who most recently wore that number (Kristich and Bodger) didn’t- grit, physical play and toughness.
Karalahti’s first game was not all wine and roses. There were several instances where Jere left his zone and seemed to skate in his own game, often leaving Matty Norstrom alone on 2 on 1’s. The good news is that he often left his position to deliver a hit. In fact, he lead the team in hits for the game. On one of his first shifts there was a little mucking after the whistle. Jere was the first player on the scene which was good to see.
As the game pressed on, Jere seemed to time his hits better. The most obvious thing was the Karalahti can handle the puck. Just as fellow rookie Frankie Kaberle, Jere holds the puck a little longer to make sure the right pass is made. Towards the end of the game he did make a some bad decisions with the puck, but for the most part his blend of grit and puckhandling is unique.
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