(In which Ryan Lambert takes a look at some of the biggest issues and stories in the NHL, and counts them down.)
9 – Officiating
Not a great night for the officials around the league the past few days.
The penalty call on Riley Nash in OT was not very good, and indeed, you know things are bad when Pierre McGuire of all the agreeable people in the league goes way the hell in on you.
The day before, the refs may or may not have blown it on both the Zach Werenski face injury — though if they didn’t blow the play dead when Gregory Campbell broke his leg in a similar situation, I think that sets a precedent — and the game-tying goal that saw Columbus even it up after the puck bounced off the inside of the open bench door. Maybe you say it balances things out in the end, hockey justice and all that.
Then on Monday it seemed like the officials, both in the building and in the Toronto war room, blew no-goal calls that ended up costing teams their games. The second Nashville goal on Monday was clear goaltender interference, and that Nate Thompson goal to cut it to 4-3 in Calgary was an extremely high stick that likewise should not have counted.
So, not the best 48 hours for the officials. Everyone agrees. But hey, at least these guys are accountable ha ha ha ha ha.
8 – Trashing Dougie Hamilton
Frankly I ain’t even mad at the guys saying Dougie Hamilton took a dumb penalty — he did — or even saying he’s dumb personally. For all I know, he might be. Doesn’t make him a bad dude.
(And frankly, the way media members talk about players with each other is no different than how fans talk about them; it’s just a little more informed by daily interactions.)
But to correlate taking dumb penalties with being dumb in general, well folks, let’s just take a little tour around the league. Tanner Glass? Went to Dartmouth. George Parros? Princeton. Riley Nash (hey, the punch was dumb as hell)? Yeah, he went to Cornell. Craig Adams has been known to take a dumb penalty in his time, and I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but my man went to Harvard.
Of course, the real dumb people in this are the broadcasters behind the mean quotes, not because they said them, but because they tried to act like, “Uh actually no we didn’t and also that third guy is the real meanie here.” Man, that was real dumb.
7 – The Crosby masks
Newspapers really shouldn’t get into the business of making fun of the other team’s players for whining, especially when their own players and coach whine constantly. I’m just sayin’.
Alas, the decision not to go through with it robbed the hockey world of some true joy: Seeing all those dumbass masks get thrown off in anger as Crosby holds the puck for nine seconds behind the net and sets up a Jake Guentzel OT winner.
6 – The ratings
Turns out the ratings are bad again. It’s almost like hockey just isn’t popular except in certain parts of the country. Just my theory.
One thing that probably isn’t helping, though, is these idiotic start times. “This game’s scheduled to start at 7,” and then puck drop is at 7:20. Or, “We have four games tonight, let’s schedule two of them at 7, rather than staggering them.” Like, start one of them at 7:15, so fans can watch something other than two equally boring intermission reports. C’mon, this isn’t hard.
Or how about these games starting at 8:30 local time, for no particular reason? Doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I’m sure there’s a good explanation why games can’t start at 7 on one channel and 7:15 on another, rather than both starting at the same time. I mean a good explanation other than “The NHL is terribly run.” But until someone actually explains it, I think it’s fair for fans everywhere to assume the NHL is just terribly run.
5 – Gerard Gallant in Vegas
This is like being given a list of like 15 ice cream flavors you can try, and you say, “Vanilla, please.”
Vegas hockey: Glitz! Glamor! A career-.518 coach with one career playoff appearance who 90 percent of hockey fans couldn’t pick out of a lineup!
Feel the excitement!
4 – Nashville
The vast majority of people picked Chicago to win this series, sometimes in routs, based on their History Of Success and the bottom of that Nashville forward group is horrendous, but this was always at least somewhat likely.
First of all, this series was much more of a 50/50 shot than most gave it credit for. Second, sometimes when you have an elite D corps — and Nashville has the best 1-6 in the league — and an average goalie, you’re going to be able to wring results out of short series that might not have been
3 – Overtime
We can all agree that overtime hockey is the best. So how about the fact that 11 of the first 24 of this year’s playoff games went to at least one overtime? Listen gang, that’s almost half!
Maybe you say it validates how much parity there is in the league or how good divisional matchups or whatever else you want to ascribe it to. But who are we to look such a gift horse as this in the mouth? Long may this trend continue, especially when there aren’t games starting at 10:30 on the east coast.
2 – Erik Karlsson
The Ottawa Senators have nine goals for and eight against in their first three games. Narrow margins!
But my fast nice son Erik Karlsson operates on no such margins. Of Ottawa’s nine goals, Karlsson has been on the ice for seven. Of the eight against, he’s only been on for four. This while playing 85:47 of the available 187:42 in the series.
Yeah the Senators are a one-man team, but boy oh boy, what a one-man to have! Here, I made this cool chart of his relative numbers in all situations. They’re extremely unbelievable, especially given that he’s going head-to-head against the friggin’ Bergeron line. C’mon!
1 – Buds all day
Anyone who doesn’t love this team (people in Washington excluded) should be in jail.
(Not ranked this week: John Tortorella.
Not a good week, quote-wise or hockey-wise. Not much else to say, except, well… nah never mind.)
(All statistics via Corsica unless otherwise noted.)