The Off Wing

Opinion and Fact…From the Off Wing

Archive for the tag “Ottawa Senators”

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.

Power Play Possibilities

So it is the morning of the aftermath of what was, for all intents ans purposes, the death knell for Dan Bylsma with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Pens had a great run, with a power play that was all but unstoppable, humming along through the first two rounds at a 28.3% clip.  The problem is the buzz saw they ran into in the Eastern Conference Finals known as the Boston Bruins…or more specifically…the Boston Bruins Penalty Kill.

The Bruins had the number one power play for 90 percent of the season.  In the last week or two (of the season), the penalty kill dropped to fourth in the league, where it finished.  The first round brought with it the Toronto Maple Leafs (again, why isn’t it Leaves?) with a power play that made Boston look, well, mortal.  Boston’s penalty killers allowed 5 goals on 21 attempts, good for a 76 percent clip.  The speed of the Maple Leaf forwards turned out to be the Achilles heel for the kill.  During the regular season the Leafs had a power play percentage just under 19% (good for 14th in the NHL), but raised that to 24 percent in that first round.

In the second round they faced the New York Rangers.  Now the Rangers anemic power play finished the regular season at just under 16%, still better than the 14.8 percent of the Boston Bruins.  The Rangers managed just two goals of the power play variety in the second round, but none during the regular season.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pens managed to score…no power play goals.  That’s right, none.  This after scoring 2 in 11 chances during the strike shortened regular season.  I mentioned the buzz saw earlier.  The Pens not only completed 18% against the Bruins, but 42 in 170 chances…good for 24.7% during the season!

So why re-hash all this information that anyone can look up with a little initiative?  Well, the possible Stanley Cup opponents for the Boston Bruins have the 10th (Kings) and 19th (Blackhawks) best power plays in the NHL this season.  Combined in the post season these two teams are 15 for 98, a 15.3% rate.  The Bruins managed to shut down a team that scored on 1/3rd of their opportunities in the first round…One Third.  And just for kicks, the Pens still scored on one quarter of their power plays in the second round against the Senators.  Just to put the bow on this package, the Islanders were almost woeful against the man advantage, but Ottawa, who allowed 24 percent against the Pens, were the best against the power play, allowing only 12% of the opportunities result in goals.

The moral of this story…if the Kings or the Blackhawks expect to beat the Bruins in the finals, they will most likely have to do it at even strength, because if the best power play in the game couldn’t get it done, well, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for the next opponent on the board.  Right now the Bruins have the hottest goaltender in the playoffs and have shown that they don’t have to out hit their opponent to win a hockey game.  They have been rolling four strong lines, and even with the misfiring on the third line, the fourth line, the Merlot line, as it is known, has picked up the slack.

So this writer wishes good luck to all those teams left in the playoffs, but for whoever comes out of the West, if you expect to beat the Bruins, you may need as much as you can get.

L.W.L.

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