Round 2 of The Playoffs – Tonight

Tonight marks round 2 of the NHL playoffs.  With round 1 still fresh in a lot of peoples minds, especially since round 1 just ended for a few teams last night that forced a game 7, round 2 is shaping up to be quite the hockey melee.

We are now left with 8 teams. The Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadians will be the series to watch.  These original 6, divisional rivals have met each other in the playoffs an astounding 34 times.  Montreal has the historic edge of winning 24 of those series, but history plays no role here.  Things are tilting in Boston’s favor since they are now a dynasty in the making team.  Regardless, it will be a hard hitting series filled with a ton of animosity between fans and players alike.  This will be the series to watch.

In the west the LA Kings and Mighty Ducks will also be a great series to watch.  I couldn’t even begin to pick a clear winner in this series and it’s probably the closest match for skilled players.  I think Anaheim might edge out the Kings, but this is definitely going to game 7.

We’ll have to wait and see how these playoff matches work out, but I am excited for some great hockey as I’m sure all of you are as well.

Stay tuned for an exciting round 2.  Can’t wait to see who ends up playing for their conferences.  If I had to guess, it’s gonna be Boston vs. New York in the east and Anaheim vs. Chicago in the west.

NHL Playoffs and The Dreaded Instigator Penalty

We are about a week into the NHL’s playoffs and I’ve tried to catch as many games as I can.  There have been some good series so far.  Montreal Canadians vs. The Tampa Bay Lightening has been a wild ride.  Not as wild as Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Pennguins and The Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings is showing a lot of promise.

With all this great hockey, you’d think there would be no complaints, but I have one major complaint and thats the damn instigator penalty.

I don’t know what Gary Bettman, The NHL and everyone else involved was thinking when they brought forth the instigator rule, but it needs to go and it needs to go right now.  Just watching the playoffs you see how valuable this would be.

The on ice shenanigans thats been going on in these playoffs is getting out of hand.  Players are laying cheap shots left, right and center.  Plenty of hits from behind and skilled players like Sidney Crosby just can’t do what they do best because of pests like Dubinsky.  Just look at a guy like Matt Cooke who is looking at a suspension for his hit last night.  This is just getting out of hand.

Time was, there was a certain respect amongst players in the NHL.  Even if you had a player without any respect for the game he had respect for his own well being.  You messed with a guy like Gretzky and you’d have your nose broken by an enforcer.  This is hockey and it should still be today.

Instead we are left with players running wild and taking all kinds of cheap shots.  And why wouldn’t they?  A mere 3-5 game suspension means nothing in the grand scheme of things and even less considering that the recipients of these cheap shots are looking at their playing careers ended or injuries that last weeks.  In the playoffs it’s even worse since someone will take a run at one of your players and the team is left defenseless.  There is no retaliation.  No retribution since teams are afraid of getting that extra two minute penalty for putting a clown like Matt Cooke in his place.  In the world of playoff hockey, a lot can change in those two minutes and a penalty can mean the difference between moving on to the next round or playing a round of golf in the off season.

Looking at a guy like Crosby, he is getting knocked around this playoff round.  Now Crosby is actually a pretty tough guy and plays his game without complaints even though he’s being rubbed into the boards and slashed every chance the opposition gets.  Now if we got rid of the instigation penalty, the Penguins could actually have a guy patrol the ice and be a warning.  If you mess with Crosby, I’ll break your nose.  You would then notice players lean off him a bit out of fear and let the man play his game the way he knows how.

And if Gary Bettman is really that concerned about fighting and the instigator rule and demands on keeping it, then the only real viable option would be to bring in more officiating.  Give the ref’s more power to give out double minors for gutless hits or force them to make more calls.

Because right now there is no downside to playing gutless hockey.  A two minute minor means nothing in the grand scheme of things if you can use it to either knock a team off their game, box in a star player or end someone’s career of playoff run.

You want to protect hockey players?  Then give them the power to actually fight back and get rid of this ridicules rule!

After The NHL Trade Deadline

Well the dust as finally settled after another frenzy of a trade deadline.  Once again there were winners, losers and some casual swaps this year.  Now that we’ve had some time to process the trades, let’s take a look at how some of the teams and players where affected.

The Winners:

Montreal Canadians

Montreal is already riding 2nd in the Atlantic division, has a strong team and is looking to parlay goaltenders Carey Price’s Olympic gold medal into a Stanley Cup win.  There only problem?  They don’t score many goals.  In fact at this time, they have just as many goals as they do goals against.  Thus bringing in Thomas Vanek from the Islanders might just be there missing piece of the puzzle.  Vanek, a gifted goal scorer might just be the rental player to help Montreal pick up their scoring game.  They didn’t have to give up too much to get him and if he ends up resigning in Montreal after this season, Montreal will be a true contender next season and this trade will have really paid off.

Florida Panthers

Florida has no chance on making the post season this year, but that didn’t stop them from laying down a top trade.  They already had a great goaltender in Tim Thomas, but instead of thinking about the present, the Panthers thought of the future and decided to acquire Roberto Luongo.  Luongo has been plagued by controversy in Vancouver for some time now and Floridia capitalized on that controversy by obtaining Loungo at rock bottom prices.  They now have a premier goalie for the next several years, didin’t put up much to get him and Vancouver will still be paying part of his monster salary.  A win for the Panthers and a big move forward in rebuilding their team into future contenders.

St. Louis

St. Louis pulled the trigger on a monster trade bringing in Buffalo cornerstone Ryan Miller.  Already in 1st place in the Western conference, St. Louis became a team to be reckoned with by bringing in an elite goaltender to round out their team.  This team was already on fire and Miller is going to put them over the top.

The Losers: 

Vancouver Canucks

Some teams became a bit stronger, some picked up draft picks to improve their future and some teams just filled in the missing gaps that their team needed.  Except Vancouver was the only team that fell apart after this trade deadline.  Last year Vancouver’s problem was having 2 of the best goalies in the NHL, now their problem is they have none.  As well they are still picking up some of the tab on Luongo’s salary.  Don’t be surprised if you find Canucks GM Mike Gillis looking for a new job next season.

Tit for Tat

Tampa Bay Lightening and New York Rangers

No-one seems like a winner or a loser in this trade that swapped Martin St. Louis and Ryan Callahan for each other.  Both players are highly skilled forwards and great players and on paper, no one benefits from this trade.  The only thing that seems to stand out from this deal is that St. Louis might have had some problems playing for Steve Yzerman’s Tampa Bay after St. Louis was initially snubbed by him on the Team Canada Olympic roster.  This is a morale trade and that’s it.

Of course there where lots of other trades that happened at this years deadline, but these were in my opinion the most important.  Now onto the last part of the season.  Let’s get these playoffs started!

 

Shootout or Coin Flip? Overtime Rules Need Changing

overtime shootout win

65 minutes wasted in a heartbeat

The shootout has been around the NHL for almost 10 years since it was introduced in the 2005-2006 season and I for one am sick and tired of it.

There is nothing worse then watching a solid 60 minutes of exciting hockey where 2 evenly matched teams end the game tied.  Then they get a measly 5 minutes of overtime to try and finish the game and if that fails, we are awarded with the dreaded shootout.

Some fans find the shootout exhilarating.  A cool mini skills competition that puts skater against goaltender.  But once you get past the initial cool factor of the shootout you realize that many hockey games in the NHL are decided on nothing more than a coin flip.

Because really that’s all the shootout is.  A coin flip.  After two teams pour their blood, sweat and tears onto the ice, it becomes pretty much a 50-50 shot on who is going to win this game.

I for one would love to see the NHL adopt a new way of handling overtime.  Because in the regular season, 2 points can mean the difference between making the playoffs or not.  Every point counts and it’s disappointing that so many of them can come from the shootout.

Granted, a shootout is much more exciting and a better outcome than it used to be in the NHL.  Remember when teams would actually tie and get just 1 point each if a winner wasn’t decided after the 5 minutes of overtime?  That sucked even more!

Of course it wouldn’t work to have a playoff style of overtime where the game isn’t over until someone scores a goal, even if 100 extra periods are needed.  Over the course of a 82 game workload, it would just be overkill to have players play those kinds of minutes.

But something still needs to be done.  Two thoughts I have on the matter would to adopt a longer overtime.  Maybe 10 minutes of 4 on 4 overtime before the shootout would give teams a better chance of settling things on the ice where they belong.  Or even 5 minutes of 4 on 4 overtime followed by 5 minutes of 3 on 3 overtime would work.

Either way 5 minutes alone just isn’t enough time to settle a close game.  Especially when only two goals have been scored over 60 minutes of play, how do we expect to get a victor in a measly 5 minutes of overtime?  Hopefully something gets done with overtime in future hockey seasons.

And while we are on the subject of overtime rules, the single point awarded to a team that makes it to overtime needs to be abolished right away.  Why award a team for being close?  Close enough only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades and not amongst a game played by men!

If you have any thoughts on the subject, please leave a comment and let’s get a discussion started.

 

Some Thoughts On The NHL Winter Classic

NHL Winter Classic

View from the Big House

As I am still getting over my New Year’s hangover, I thought I would share some thoughts on the New Year’s day spectacle that is the Winter Classic.

For starters, I am a huge fan of the event.  The alumni games are entertaining and fun and the event does so much for spreading the world of Hockey.  Obviously the venue does not bode well for hockey as even if you are in the first row, your seats are not optimal of a hockey game, but I’m sure the point of being at these 100,000+ arenas is the atmosphere and not the viewing of the game itself.

My only real problem with the NHL’s Winter Classic is the fact that it’s a regular season game.  In this case of Toronto and Detroit’s game, both teams at the time were sitting on the edge of making the playoffs making the Winter Classic a very important game for both teams and their playoff hopes and dreams.  If only 2 points make a difference for  either of those teams of making the playoffs, it will be a shame that it came down to a game with less than optimal conditions, bad ice and no home advantage.

Instead maybe the NHL could adopt a new model for their Winter Classic.  Wouldn’t it be better if instead of having a regular season game, turn the Winter Classic into even more of a fan spectacular by having a game of NHL all stars versus the previous years Stanley Cup winning tram? Or even a NHL all stars versus the KHL or European league all stars?

I think that style of game would serve the NHL better for their Winter Classic.  Turn it into an even bigger event for the fans.  Plus the way the All Star game is set up in hockey now is just pathetic and needs a rejigging.

But thats just my 2 cents.

A Bruins Fan Living In Toronto

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So I thought my first post for this Hockey blog would be about what it’s like being a Bruins fan living in Toronto.

First of all, let me explain.  I love Toronto.  It’s my home and a beautiful city.  I love the Toronto Blue Jays and support my baseball home team 100%.  Like every other Canadian out there, I am filled with a nationalistic pride, but I just can’t follow that blind pride behind the Toronto Maple Leafs like everyone does.

If you were born in Toronto, moved to Toronto or even just visited, you know this city bleeds blue and white.  Everyone here is a Leafs fan and you will be shunned if you are not.  I don’t know why people buy into it and I don’t know why everyone is brainwashed by it.  Because in reality………

You suck Leafs!

How can anyone just blindly follow this Hockey club is beyond me.  Besides the fact that they have not won the Stanley Cup in over 40 years isn’t even enough to sway people.  This is a Hockey team that is run by a corperation, like a corporation.  Their payroll is about bottom dollars, not skill or a winning product and if they spent the same effort and money that they do on marketing to their on ice product we would have a dynasty team in this city.  But why do they need to spend money or put a good team on the ice?  Tickets sell out at record speed and people keep buying up enough gear even if the team is playing like Columbus!

This is why I cannot support the Leafs organization.

But why a Boston fan you might ask?

Well I grew up in the era of the second best defenseman to ever live.  Ray Bourque.  I was a huge fan of guys like him, Cam Neely and Adam Oates growing up.  I loved their Hockey team even more when they had guys like Joe Thornton manning the helm.  And even more in this new reincarnation of the team that has already won a cup and keeps battling for it year after year.  

But it’s lonely being a Bruins fan in Toronto.  Being the only guy at the ACC to stand up and scream when they score a goal.  Or the guy that gets booed in his Bruins jersey at the bar when the Leafs are down 5-1.

But I’d rather be a lonely Bruins fan in Toronto than another heartbroken Leafs fan.