The Off Wing

Opinion and Fact…From the Off Wing

Archive for the category “Playoffs”

The NHL’s Embarrassing Moment

While watching overtime of game 5 between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, it became abundantly clear that the NHL doesn’t want Boston to progress further…or they want the Senators to advance. Maybe it’s a bias against a city that has had post-season success with all of their sports franchises since the beginning of the century. Maybe its the fact that none of the Canadian teams were good enough to make it this far last season and the NHL feels they are owed as much. Or maybe the officials are just plain idiots that don’t know what the hell they are doing. Whatever your interpretation here..this is the NHL’s most embarrassing moment.

First off, the official standing right behind the net doesn’t have the stones to actually make a call when the Bruins appeared (it was a goal, but i am trying to be fair) to have scored. Then, after meeting with other officials for a minute, announce that there is no goal due to goaltender interference.  After three plus minutes of review, which I understand is done in Toronto, the announcement is no goal.  I don’t understand why the on ice officials are looking at replays if they have nothing to do with the decision, but that is for another time.  This leads to more questions than answers.  Where is Sean Kuraly supposed to go?  How is it interference if he is allowed to follow the puck into the area when it is a rebound opportunity.  Craig Anderson makes no attempt to reset when laying on the ice while his teammate and Noel Acciari are putting the puck behind him.

Not more than what seemed to be two or three minutes later, Jean Gabriel Pageau wraps his hand around the puck while in the crease area before pushing it to Anderson, clearly a penalty shot opportunity for the Bruins.  Kerry Fraser, a former NHL referee tweets out that he didn’t have to wrap his hand around the puck, just falling on it in the crease is a penalty shot.  Not only was none of this awarded, but the officials felt the need to announce that there was no goal as the puck had not crossed the goal line, but did not address why the puck had not crossed said line.

If the NHL cannot effectively control their officials and enforce some form of consistency from the men wearing black and white stripes, then why bother playing the games.  It would save everyone involved the physical, mental and emotional stress of having to win or lose based on what these four extra skaters say and do.  Coaches could manage their rosters better, already knowing whether they would be playing in the second round or not.  Please give us some kind of advanced notice if the game we are preparing to watch has already been assigned a predetermined ending.  Not only will the coaches benefit, but those of us watching can plan to watch something that is supposed to be scripted…something like World Wrestling Entertainment, at least I can expect the officials to be useless and the team that the League wants to win will do so.

P.K. Subban Should Be A Bruin

While watching the second round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs, specifically the Bruins/Montreal series, it reminded me of something that I have been pondering for well over year now. The Boston franchise, while having a top tier defense, and one of the best defensemen in the game, is getting old in that department. Then the 2013 playoffs came around and Boston called up some of its young guns for the push, and youth was served. The issue here is that while the defense is young, none of the gents are yet a candidate for number one defenseman. Sure, Dougie could fill out that role at some point, but needing a leader on the back end is something that the B’s brass should be considering. In other words, P.K. Subban should be a Bruin.

Sure, the Bruins have Big Z (Zdeno Chara for the uninitiated), but at 37 years old he won’t be playing forever.  The Bruins have defensemen in Providence, and a couple youngsters playing for the big club, but none of them appear ready to adopt the mantle of “number one defenseman”.  P.K. has shown that he is the leader of the d-corps for the blue-blanc et rouge.  Especially in these playoffs.  Subban is averaging 2 points per game against the  Bruins.  He has 11 points in 7 games.  Sure he is only a plus 1, but while averaging over 27 minutes a night, he is third among defensemen still active in the playoffs.  At 24 years of age, Pernell Karl would be a nice addition to the blueliners on Causeway Street.

P.K. has stated that he is looking for top dolllar on his next contract, between 8 and 9 million dollars per year.  Whether he is worth that at this stage of his career is up for debate, but the way he is playing in these playoffs, especially against his arch-rivals, definitely begins to tip the scales in his favor.  Another tic in his favor, his age.  At just 24, giving him a long term contract wouldn’t hurt so much.  Structure it so that he gets his money in years 3-6 or something along those lines.

Chara still has four more years on his contract after this season finishes, but can we, Bruins fans or not, really expect him to play 27 plus minutes a night as he approaches the big 4-0?  I would say the answer to that question is probably one that the voracious fans in Boston don’t want to have to answer.

Answer…Bring in Subban.  You still get to have the Big Man roaming around the the blueline.  Pair him up with P.K.  Then it doesn’t matter who hangs back and who pinches in.  Yes the d-corps gets expensive with Seidenberg and his 4 year 16 million dollar deal, but by trading a couple players away, it can work.  It has to work.

By acquiring his services, the Boston Bruins can shore up the number one defenseman slot for the next ten years rather than hoping that Chara can maintain his torrid pace for the next four.  P.K. Subban should be a Bruin…and hey, number 76 isn’t taken!

Let’s Talk About Hardware

All right, two games into the Stanley Cup Final and  the series is now a best of five.  With both games going to overtime, it would appear that this series has the ability to go seven.  Both teams obviously have the talent and the desire to win.  And the big winners here are the fans…yes we got the shaft at the normal start to the regular season when the owners and players couldn’t come to an agreement as to who was at fault, or who was more greedy, or who was getting screwed the hardest…but we are getting our reward now.  But I’m not here to re-hash games one or two, but to talk hardware…In particular, the other award given out after the the 16 wins are achieved.

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged most valuable to his team during the National Hockey League‘s Stanley Cup playoffs. The Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded 47 times to 41 players since the 1964–65 NHL season. Each year, at the conclusion of the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals, members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association vote to elect the player deserving of the trophy.[1] The trophy is handed out prior to the presentation of the Stanley Cup by the NHL commissioner and only the winner is announced, in contrast to most of the other NHL awards which name three finalists and which are presented at a ceremony.

Unlike the playoff MVP awards presented in the other major professional sports leagues of the United States and Canada (the Super Bowl MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, and the World Series MVP), the Conn Smythe is based on the entire NHL postseason instead of just the championship game or series.

-Sorry, but the above two paragraphs were borrowed straight from Wikipedia, as I couldn’t have written it better myself.  Thanks to Wikipedia for the assist.

To break down what those two paragraphs above, there are a couple of players in this years’s final that could be deserving of the award.  When the hardware is given out, it will most likely be to a goal tender, but maybe the hockey writers need to take a closer look at a couple others that don’t just jump right off the page at you.  Sure most pundits would say that you need to ride a hot goalie to the Stanley Cup, but that shouldn’t be a guarantee of a Conn Smythe award.  Let’s look at it by position:

Goaltender:

Tied for the most wins with Centers, the goalies tend to garner the most interest for this award as they are the backstops for their teams.  Both goaltenders here can be considered for the hardware, with Tuukka Rask gaining a bit more attention than Corey Crawford due to his performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  His two shut outs came at their expense and his .944 save percentage is better than Crawford’s by almost a full percentage point.  Corey is no slouch here either.  His 1.72 goals against is ridiculously minuscule, but with one more game played, he has allowed only one more goal, but on 68 less shots on net.  The amount of activity here gives it to Rask.

Defensemen:

Obviously the top two, Duncan Keith and Zdeno Chara lead the pack here.  Its remarkable that a defenseman has taken home the hardware only 9 times in 47 opportunities since the Conn Smythe was created.  The similarities between these two extremely talented players are amazing to see.  Both have 11 points, with 2 two goals each.  Both average 3:20 of ice time shorthanded per game.  both have a shooting percentage of 4.  The only differences here are that Chara averages over 30 minutes of ice time per game to Keith’s 27 plus minutes, and Chara’s +/- is better at 13 to Duncan’s 4.  It’s really a wash here, and since anyone who has played at any time in the playoffs can conceivably win the award, this writer wouldn’t be surprised if one or the other won it on a losing team.

Right Wing:

Tyler Seguin…what can I say.  Playing out of position, no one can hit the glass with more accuracy…oh wait, sorry, wrong award.  Anyway, Horton certainly would be a candidate at this postion.  As would Marian Hossa.  But again the ice tilts toward Horton, with his +22.  Both have  goals, but Hossa is standing at a plus 8.  Could be a wash, but I don’t think the winner is coming from this position when all is said and done.

Center:

Again…Tyler…never mind.  There are too many good centers in this Final to make jokes.  Krejci, Bergeron, Toews.  Take your pick here.  As with goalie, 16 of the past winners came from the Center position, and you wouldn’t go wrong with any of these three.  Selkes, two way play, leadership, and then there’s Krejci.  Leads all players in scoring in these playoffs.  Second on his team in +/-, but there’s just not enough.  He benefits from playing on a solid line.  He doesn’t come across as the leader that Toews is, or the “leave it all on the ice” that Bergeron gives.  He is a real solid player during the playoffs, but doesn’t really do anything that warrants the Conn Smythe.

Left Wing:

Well, here it is, the best for last.  Although not according to the hockey writers that vote for the MVP.  Only once has a left wing won this prestigous award, Bob Gainey in 1979.  Good thing too, because he was never going to win GM Of The Year honors.  But I digress; this year’s winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy should, in this writer’s opinion, come from this position.  Milan Lucic.  Third on his team in scoring, third in plus/minus.  Plays in all situations.  And hitting…  The key here is that Milan is leading by example.  I heard the quote from a reporter in Canada that the Bruins didn’t win Game 7  against the Toronto Maple Leafs until Milan decided that they were going to win.  He has done this all playoffs long.  He isn’t the leading scorer, but against the Rangers, Milan intimidated then to the point that when he possessed the puck along the boards, there wasn’t a Ranger within 6 feet of him.  And no one would be willing to mess with Lucic during the Penguins series, except Engellund, and he wouldn’t throw down when he was invited to do so by the freight train.  He is doing it again in the Final.  Big hits on both Oduya and Hjalmarsson set the tone down the stretch of game two.

The award will most likely go to a goaltender during this series due to the extremely good numbers both are putting up, but, going by the description given for the winner of the Conn Smythe, Milan fits the bill perfectly.

L.W.L.

Again, thanks to Sportsnetics.com for the assist with most of the stats in this piece.

 

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