Look who’s back, back again.
– In the triple OT Blackhawks – Predators game 4, I don’t recall a single scrum in front of the net. Maybe a shove or two, but nothing even remotely violent. Hmmm…..
That points to the real value of these scrums: almost none. No one wants to go to the penalty box when the next goal might cost them the game. Not that these post-regulation scrums would cause a power play. At best, we would see coincidental minors (unless something truly violent happened), as the refs don’t want to cause the game to be won on the power play. The refs have put their whistles away, so why not have at it?
Maybe everyone is just tired. They could have a lot more hockey to play and don’t want to use up the energy. Perhaps the message – whatever message that is – has been sent.
Or maybe, there isn’t much of a point to it in the first place.
Would anyone miss them? After a few gatherings of little consequence, no one in the stands is excited for them.
– Going back to calling cross checks and stick infractions for a moment, maybe the players being afraid of a penalty call and putting their team down a man in the playoffs is enough to change behavior, unlike being punched in the face.
If you call the cross checks, you won’t see them, as the stakes for being in the box during the playoffs are so large. In the regular season, forget about it. The fate of teams won’t be sealed by one game in the middle of the season. At least, not in their minds. One game in the playoffs? You bet they pay attention.
– The value of staying out of the penalty box is obviously higher in overtime, since the stakes are so high. But what about the value in regulation? There may be time to get a goal back, but what is at stake when you go to the box in the first sixty minutes?
Of the 27 games of playoff hockey so far, 14 have ended as a one goal game. Seven of those ended in OT. Also, in the other 13 games played that ended with more than a one goal deficit, six of those featured an empty net goal from the winning team. That means that the losing team felt they still had a chance to win enough to pull the goalie.
Twenty of the twenty-seven games played could have been swung by a goal or two. That same goal that is prized so much in overtime could have settled things in regulation.
The argument could be made that if a team didn’t score a power play goal, the penalty didn’t matter in the end. Not true, since two minutes of killing a penalty is two minutes you aren’t in control of your own destiny. You have to defend, when you could be controlling the play.
The value of regulation hockey doesn’t seem as big since it is spread out over so much time, and the stakes seem lower. The regular season proves that. 4,920 minutes of regulation hockey is a lot of hockey. There are Meat Loaf albums that are shorter than that. Not many, but they exist. Spread out a lost point here or there, and you don’t even see it. But it can bite you in the end. Ask the Bruins or Kings.
Teams that take silly penalties might want to think this one over.
– If the same Islanders team that started last night’s OT loss to Washington has stayed on the ice the entire game, they could have destroyed the Capitals. They were fast, passed the puck well, and constantly attacking. Instead, they changed their tune after Washington got on the board. Playoff hockey is a hard pace to keep up. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t, or can’t.
– I just wrote a whole draft about Dustin Byfuglien and his press scrum after game 3 of their playoff series against the Ducks.
Instead of all that, what I really want to say is, nice one, Dustin.