Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Prior to this week's GM meetings, word started to trickle out that the 30 general managers of the NHL were doing the unthinkable: considering the reinstatement of perhaps the single worst, most pointless, counterproductive, and counterintuitive rule the sport of hockey has seen in last 30 years at least.
The reason for this proposed change, according to advocates of building a wall in the middle of the neutral zone, is that it will slow the game down and make it safer. Concussions are bad!!!!, after all, and anything the league can do to protect players from getting them is of the utmost importance — except, Jake Voracek and Kris Letang recently learned, when it's not.
So the solution is to outlaw stretch passes that, in theory, make the game faster and allow guys to sail through the neutral zone at Mach 3 and get clobbered into next Sunday by 230-pound defensemen.
And yes, by all means, let's do that. When and if that were to ever actually happen. In much the same way that outlawing fighting isn't going to prevent guys from getting these terrible brain injuries because so few guys actually get concussed during them, reinstating the two-line pass won't prevent concussions because two-line passes, as far as I've been able to figure out, have never actually caused one.
You can say allowing stretch plays encourages players to create a faster and therefore more dangerous game, but that's like outlawing steak because a guy choked on it in a restaurant where no one knew the Heimlich.
(Coming Up: Will Columbus trade top pick?; Kings are in trouble; dissecting Brian Burke; Tuukka time will wait for six weeks; Johnny Oduya is working out; Jeff Skinner's nasty snipe; Bruce Boudreau vs. refs; Chris Stewart scored a beauty; fun with Folignos; what's wrong with Alex Ovechkin?; Giroux does the Datsyuk; Grant Besse's awesome night; and a way to get Antti Niemi back to Chicago.)
In fact, why not look at the Joe Thornton hit that concussed David Perron. The pass that he got caught watching came from inside his own zone when he was skating over his own blue line. So let's take out the one-line pass as well. Make everyone tic-tac-toe it through the neutral zone. And in fact, why not take out the forward pass, while you're at it? That would make sure everyone's good and safe forever, because the league will fold because no one will watch or go to games because the sport will be boring as hell.
The other reason it's stupid, of course, is that it's quite literally designed to increase the amount of offense seen league-wide. Now, my understanding of the causes of the lockout — or at least the thing everyone says is the cause of the lockout (not unlike how idiots say slavery was the reason for the Civil War) — is that there just wasn't enough scoring.
"People don't like 2-1 and 3-2 games, they want to see 4-3 and 5-4!" Remember?
The removal of the red line solved that problem, at least for a while; scoring has dipped back to pre-lockout levels in the past two years. And so everyone in the NHL's corridors of power thinks the solution to this is to bring back a rule that very much engendered every hockey fan's least-favorite four-letter word: "Trap."
To put it another way: If Ken Hitchcock thinks a rule should be instated in the NHL, it's not going to be conducive to more scoring, is it?
Proponents say that bringing back that terrible, awful, no good, very bad rule will have a positive and downright thrilling effect for fans, as well. Specifically, that it'll bring back a focus on skill. (As though the ability to thread a stretch pass from one blue line to the other is somehow not a skill.)
"All the rule changes we made we designed to increase the skill level, but it's become a slap shot from the far blue line and a guy chips it in and you go chase," Steve Yzerman said over the weekend.
Hey, Steve? Yeah, hi. Ryan Lambert here. You know why you see that all the time? Your coach plays the 1-3-1, and that's the only way to beat it. All the crybaby garbage kicked up by the Flyers earlier this year was result of that. I'm sure you remember. Also, you're against no-touch icing because "it bores the game." Uh huh. Well then. No cognitive dissonance there!
There is, for any rational observer of the game, no good reason to bring back a rule that, in case we all slept through the lockout, no one liked. Its possible reintroduction should be viewed for what it is: An attempt to look proactive on the concussion epidemic without actually doing anything to solve it, and making the "product" worse in the process.
The illegal two-line pass was the dumbest rule in pro sports when it was eliminated, but bringing it back now would lower that bar considerably.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Anaheim lost to Dallas 2-0 on Saturday and instead of being upset that his team was shut out, Bruce Boudreau was steamed with the officials. "If that penalty on Lehtonen by Getzlaf was a penalty, I'll be a monkey's uncle," Boudreau said. "Even the Brookbank penalty, there was two guys battling. Why do they choose our guy? Both equally doing the same thing. I could go on and on. I said it [last week] in L.A. and I'm now sounding like a whining little crier. But it's not good enough." Well he got part of it right.
Boston Bruins: Tuukka Rask spoke to reporters for the first time since injuring his groin and said that of the "four-to-six-weeks" prognosis he got, he'd expect to be out closer to six, confirming what Peter Chiarelli said earlier this week. Bad news for the Bruins. Tim Thomas hasn't been sharp lately.
Buffalo Sabres: More Sabres forwards injured. Yes, again. Thomas Vanek sat out Saturday's game, and both Matt Ellis and Patrick Kaleta picked up knocks during it, and didn't return to action. Vanek remains doubtful for tonight's game against Montreal.
Calgary Flames: Matt Stajan has three points in his last two games. He had nine in his previous 45. Now granted, those games were against Montreal and Winnipeg — not the stiffest competition — but still, look out Evgeni Malkin.
Carolina Hurricanes: Pretty solid individual effort by Jeff Skinner to score his second in a 4-2 win over Tampa. What a shot.