Allow me to climb on my soap box. I start with the disclaimer that this is completely based on personal opinion and, thus, I seek not to offend or invite any flaming. However, as a fan of the game of hockey, as well as being an Islander fan, I have been struck by a couple of things as these 2009-2010 playoffs have unfolded for the NHL.
Firstly, I must make the point that I have enjoyed every series. I’ve had the good fortune of catching quite a bit of hockey over the last month, and having no life, I have, on a number of occasions, caught the back to back games on Verses, as well as on XM or on my computer. My Isles may not have made it in, but I still love the game, and I find playoff hockey to be the best to enjoy.
My surprises thus far have been the elimination of the Capitals in the last round, as well as Boston having gotten by Buffalo with relative ease. I know that’s “old news”, but it’s still a matter of my observations. This also goes for the fact that the Flyers rolled over the Devils with little difficulty as well. Nevertheless, it surely set up things for some interesting match ups this current round.
So, here we stand with Pittsburgh and Montreal knotted up at 2 games a piece, while the Bruins are up on the Flyers, the Hawks are on top of the Canucks, and the Sharks have the Wings all at 3 games to 1 advantages. Philadelphia and Detroit have kept their respective series each alive with big game 4 victories, but being down 3 games to 1 is no easy situation to overcome.
As for my more “controversial” comments, they are specifically on the officiating that we have seen over these playoffs. Now, understand that I think, for the most part, we have had professional, solid officiating in many of the games, so do not think that I’m saying it has been horrible or the like overall. No, it has not, but I am left with two particular thoughts at the current point in the chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Firstly, can we let the boys play? I understand that these are the playoffs and such, but come on now. We don’t need every friggin bump or sneeze to result in a minor penalty. I know there are some who will say that, perhaps, not enough calls have been made, but I’ll get to that in a moment. My point here is stop the nonsense of whistling down guys for the slightest infractions in front of the net. Maybe, I’m old school and I appreciate the epic battles between warriors in front of the goal, but there have been Far too many bush league penalties called in situations that did not warrant any.
I have particularly noticed this in the San Jose/Detroit series, but it has surely occurred in others. It’s the playoffs and the guys are going to play with a bit more passion and intensity. I’m not saying it should be a free-for-all out there, but it’s hockey. It’s a physical sport. It doesn’t need to be “sissied up” as a certain color commentator for the Nashville Predators has said. I agree with him one–hundred percent. There are times where you have to let the small stuff go. It ruins the flow of an exciting game, and it just spoils the whole playoff “battle” mentality that should be present.
In regard to my second observation, I have to ask. Is there some league mandate out there that reflects the idea that the Pittsburgh Penguins have to advance to the Conference finals? I ask because if you are a Canadian fan, you Gotta be fit to be tied by the officiating in your series up to this juncture. Sidney Crosby seemingly can get away with Anything. If a Montreal player sneezes on a Penguin player, he gets the gate. I believe the first goal in the previous game for the Penguins was a direct result of a tripping call at the Penguin blue line that wasn’t made and enabled a break away for the Pittsburgh player who scored. Then, in the third period, there were not less than 3 calls missed on the Penguins in a row before a Canadian player got an interference call for doing what had been “overlooked” seconds earlier.
Now, a game should not be measured by the number of minor penalties each team has. If one team gets 5 minors, it does not imply the other should as well. Even if the situation is one of one team getting a dozen and the other receiving a single call, as long as all 12 of the calls on the one team were deserved and the other team simply played without missed infractions, that is perfectly fine. Consistency comes down to fairness too. Thus, there have been games in each series that reflected good officiating, even if the penalty totals were a lot higher on one team compared to their opponent. You might not be happy about being the team that gets a dozen calls while your opponents only got one on them, but you also have to live with the fact that your guys took a dozen penalties deservedly and the other team played without deserving any.
The problem I am having is it seems to me that the Canadians are getting shafted every night. I have no special interest in that series, so don’t think I am taking “sides”. I just think that it has gotten to the point in which I have to ask if the officials have gotten some directive from higher up that “encourages” a Penguin victory for better television ratings in the next round. I’m sure a Penguin fan will disagree with me, but my response to them is, Come On now. It’s really become a joke out there how one-sided many of the calls in all four games have been so far. You can’t tell me with any pride or honesty that the Canadians have gotten just about Everything called against them while the Penguins, especially Crosby, have Not?
Well, I will step down from my soap box. I hope everyone is enjoying the playoffs and good luck to all of the remaining teams in the hunt.