Playoff time in the NHL is the greatest time of year in any sport.
The action gets so jacked up and intense that you would think that games 1-7 are life or death. Year after year players leave everything on the ice whether you are an 8 seed or a 1 seed in the name of Lord Stanley.
Injuries don’t matter, hits are harder, everyone gets in the way of slap shots… it’s a daily spectacle that leaves you on the edge of seat and wincing at every bone-crushing check and unbelievable save.
You know this going into the playoffs and you adjust accordingly as a player and as a fan… However, this year’s playoffs?
Man, no one was ready for this.
Virtually every series except New Jersey vs. Florida has been hate-filled and angry.
St. Louis hates San Jose, Ottawa wants revenge against New York, Phoenix and Chicago have traded blows… Then there’s been the Philly and Pittsburgh series, where do we begin there?
These playoffs are on steroids, everyone’s angry at everyone, violence has been kicked up several notches and Brendad Shanahan hasn’t had much time to make a sandwich because he’s too busy looking over tape of reckless hits.
What the hell is going on?
In the first round of this year’s playoffs there have been more match penalties, more suspensions and more game misconducts than in years past… AND THE PLAYOFFS ARE ONLY A WEEK OLD!!
Look at these occurances and consequences:
Shea Weber fined $2500 for throwing Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the boards
Carl Hagelin suspended three games for elbowing Daniel Alfredsson in the head an giving him a concussion
Aaron Asham suspended four games for trying to decapitate Braydon Schenn
Nicklas Backstrom suspended one game for cross checking Rich Peverly in the head
Michael Shaw suspended three games for knocking goalie Mike Smith in the head
James Neal suspended one game for blindsiding Claude Giroux
Raffi Torres suspended indefinitely for concussing Marian Hossa…
And let me reiterate that the playoffs are only a week old.
I know that hockey is a violent sport and stuff like this happens, but not as frequent as this.
There has been more goonery than actually hockey it would seem to the casual hockey fan. In an interview Dan Boyle said that it seems like guys are just trying to start stuff on the ice. Jonathan Toews doesn’t know what to expect right now… Both guys aren’t alone in their feelings.
At first I was loving the hate being spread around the playoffs. It felt like old time hockey and was great for the game. Now it’s getting out of hand.
The Torres hit should be the last draw for Shanahan and the front offices in the league. They have to start hammering guys with longer suspensions to get their points across.
Shanahan has been criticized for being to lenient on more skilled players like Weber and Backstrom and hammering guys like Asham and Hagelin who are either too young or not as skilled.
He’s got to make things fair across the board. Like Colin Campbell did to Matt Cooke last year Shanahan has to start doing to these players.
Hockey is a self policing game, however when there needs to be stiffer policing from suits in the offices.
Shanahan has to suspend Torres for the rest of the playoffs and encourage referees to get tougher on the ice. Referees have to call these games tighter, which means more penalties and control these games before they continue to get out of hand.
Games like Sundays Flyers-Pens free for all are great once in a while but they’re happening every night in the playoffs. The league has to get this over excessive play under control before someone gets really injured out there.
The over aggressiveness has taken away from some great hockey as well. Jonathan Quick has been putting on a show in the Kings-Canucks series, the Predators-Red Wings matchup has been great with Pekka Rinne dominating the action and game 3 of the Rangers-Senators series was non stop up and down hockey with great goaltending from both teams.
The playoffs have been their normal unbeatable selves, however the action has to be placed back on the skillful play and not on the over excessive violence that has stolen the headlines.
I’m all for a few fights and scrums but this has been ridiculous.
Hopefully we can get back to the great hockey that’s been played so far and not have anymore Marian Hossa incidents.