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THN.com Playoff Blog: Time to stop hand passes; home whiteouts; and big Byfuglien

Dustin Byfuglien's three goals in Game 3 were his first points of this post-season. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

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Dustin Byfuglien's three goals in Game 3 were his first points of this post-season. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

I don’t feel I have much to say on any single topic, so I’m going to get all up in your kitchen Dustin Byfuglien-style by ranting on a few topics.

GIVE THEM NO HAND
First off, what’s with the controversy surrounding Logan Couture’s hand-on-the-puck penalty in Game 3 of the Sharks-Wings series?

That’s a penalty, no question. The only thing that sucked was that Henrik Zetterberg failed to score on the penalty shot Detroit was awarded.

In fact, there are few things in hockey more ridiculous-looking than a player in the defensive zone swatting or sweeping the puck around with his hand. It’s embarrassing; it really is. Something about it makes me think of Ned Braden’s on-ice strip show in Slap Shot. And, other than for its entertainment value, that’s not good.

If the NHL wants to promote offense – and it does – why not outlaw any use of the hand to propel the puck? Knock it down, sure. Swipe it, hold it, throw it, bat it, etc. – forget it. The league won’t have to worry about any more hand-on-the-puck controversies, but more importantly, it won’t have skaters scrambling on their knees after the puck like pre-schoolers playing for the first time.

WHITE, OUT
And another thing, what is with all of the ‘whiteouts’ in the playoffs?

Seriously, what’s the point of having upwards of 18,000 or so Pittsburgh Penguins fans wearing white t-shirts at Mellon Arena when the Pens themselves are wearing black? It just doesn’t make sense to me. NHL teams have been wearing their dark sweaters at home since 2003 and it seems a bunch of PR departments never got the memo…and haven’t had their eyes open for seven years.

Philly has the whole thing down pat, though. The ‘Orange Crush’ looks cool and must be a little intimidating for the opposition, if only because the guys on the ice are sporting the same color as the fans. Not that it mattered much in Game 3 against Boston.

DUST, IN
I mentioned Dustin Byfuglien in the opening because he’s my new favorite playoff performer. In Game 2 of the Vancouver series, Byfuglien was all over the ice and playing with a surprising amount of skill; he looked like one of Chicago’s stars, rather than its grunts. In Game 3 he played more of a north-south game and was the beneficiary of lucky bounces and had a hat trick.

Maybe I haven’t watched enough Blackhawks games this season – you have to spread yourself a little thin when you’re trying to see every team at least a few times – but I remember him best as the guy who rattled Roberto Luongo and his crew in last year’s second round. I never thought of him as a smooth-skating wide-load with hands and a bullet shot. But that’s what I’ve seen so far these playoffs and against Vancouver specifically.

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That’s not to say Byfuglien hasn’t been a thorn in Luongo’s side. He and the rest of the Hawks have been crashing the net with abandon in an attempt to get the Canucks captain off his game. Chicago is up 2-1 in the series and things are tilting more and more towards Vancouver’s blue ice. Luongo looked a little flummoxed with the way things are going after the game Wednesday night.

Not sure what Vancouver can do to stop Byfuglien and the boys from getting in Luongo’s grill – he’s quickly gone from worrying about making saves to worrying about saving himself. But they’ll have to do something – and fast – or this series may be over as early as Sunday.

THN Puck Panel – Luongo frazzled by crease chaos, Rask shines
Host Ryan Dixon sits down with managing editor Edward Fraser and writer John Grigg to discuss... Dustin Byfuglien’s dominating crease presence… The uncharacteristic physical play of the Sedin twins… Tuukka Rask’s composure between the pipes… And Boston’s latest injury up front.

PRODUCER: Ted Cooper | PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Jason Cassidy

THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

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John Grigg is a copy editor and writer with The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his blog appearing Tuesdays and the Wednesday Top 10.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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