Well, that post-season was underwhelming. Come to think of it, so was the regular season. At 5.03 and 5.32 goals per game, respectively, the two parts of 2014-15 combined to create another low-scoring season for goal-starved fans.
Immediately after that dud of a Stanley Cup final, in which just 23 goals (3.83 per game) were scored, suggestions started flying on ways to fix the dearth of goals and the downtick in excitement. TSN’s Dave Naylor threw his support behind making the nets bigger, a move the NHL should embrace.
Failing that, however, perhaps there’s another way to boost scoring.
Prior to the playoffs, this editor floated an idea by Kris King, vice-president of hockey operations, and Stephen Walkom, senior vice-president and director of officiating, at the NHL. Neither offered any feedback, but at least they were willing to hear it out.
“We have a lot of ‘interesting’ GMs,” King said. “So your idea might not be as crazy as you think.”
That crazy idea targets the suffocating defensive strategies of coaches – the real culprits behind low-scoring games – by making this rule change:
Barring any unforeseen developments, the limited-in-scope coach’s challenge rumored for years to be coming to the NHL will be implemented in the 2015-16 season, thanks in part to a recommendation from the league and NHL Players’ Association’s joint competition committee Thursday.
The competition committee – comprised of four NHL GMs, one owner and four players – recommended league coaches be permitted to challenge goals that involve goaltender interference and offside plays with a video review. Goalie interference challenges would be considered by on-ice officials, while offside challenges would be addressed by the NHL’s video review center in Toronto. And if a coach has already used his timeout, he is unable to challenge any play. Read more
After Quebec Remparts coach-GM Philippe Boucher accused Quebec Major Junior League director of officiating Richard Trottier and referee Olivier Gouin of conspiring against his team during Memorial Cup round-robin play earlier this week, many expected Canadian Hockey League brass would come down hard on the former NHL player-turned-bench boss. And many turned out to be right: late Thursday, the league announced it was fining Boucher $10,000 for his outburst. Read more
Meg Hishmeh and her son, Blake, will spend Mother’s Day doing exactly what they’ve done for the better part of the past month. Blake will do four hours of therapy at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, then they’ll watch the hockey games together.
Don’t worry, the story will have a happy ending when 18-year-old Blake is discharged May 20 and returns to finish up his high school year in New Jersey. And with him will be Meg, who took a break from her job as World’s Busiest Hockey Mom™ to help usher her son back to what it is expected to be a full recovery from a traumatic brain injury after a back flip off a jump at the Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado went horribly awry during spring break. Blake was airlifted from the ski hill and spent eight days in intensive care before being transferred to the rehab hospital on April 14. Read more
The fact that we’re not discussing the Calgary Flames non-goal ad nauseam in Game 3 this morning is a good thing, and good on the Flames and coach Bob Hartley for showing a ton of composure and poise by responding with the tying and winning goals to make it all a moot point.
A thank-you card from the NHL to the Flames should be on its way. Instead of discussing a disputed goal, everyone who is not interested in politics in Calgary is talking about how their resilient group of youngsters has done it again. Read more
The Montreal Canadiens got whip-sawed by the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night, losing the game and their composure. The Habs took way too many dumb penalties and in the process, released the Steven Stamkos Kraken – ‘Stammer’ got his first goal of the 2015 playoffs, while adding two assists. And the Lightning’s previously feckless power play went 4-for-8 in a 6-2 romp.
By the end of the game, Habs tough guy Brandon Prust had racked up 31 PIM, including a 10-minute misconduct that followed his fight with Braydon Coburn – which followed his sneaky trip of goaltender Ben Bishop. He also threw his elbow pad into Tampa’s bench.
After the game, Prust said referee Brad Watson “tries to play God,” and that the veteran likes to control the game. Obviously Prust was angry at how things turned out, but does he have a point? Let’s look at Watson’s stats.
You know that, no matter what else happens in every Stanley Cup tournament, there will always be at least one controversy related to NHL officiating. If it’s not a personal relationship between a referee and a particular player some fans and media focus on, it’s a debatable call that earns the ire of the public (and often, the team on the wrong end of the call). And it didn’t take very long at all for that officiating controversy to take place in the 2015 post-season: in the second period of Game 1 of Montreal’s first-round series against Ottawa Wednesday night, Canadiens star defenseman P.K. Subban was assessed a five-minute major penalty for slashing and a game misconduct.
The ejection of Subban enraged Habs fans, especially after Sens phenom Mark Stone – who, after being slashed by Subban on the penalized play, writhed around in great pain and left the game – returned to action a few minutes later. But if you think Subban was wronged to be given so harsh a penalty, don’t blame the officials. Blame the league and its philosophy of basing punishments on injury and thus encouraging players to embellish.
To be certain, Subban’s slash of Stone’s arm was (a) a two-hander; (b) vicious; and (c) could easily have caused serious damage to him: Read more
To say Kevin Shattenkirk and the St. Louis Blues were displeased with the refereeing in Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets might just be the understatement of the season.
From perceived missed calls to a goal snuffed out by a slashing call, the Blues were none too happy with the tandem of Steve Kozari and Graham Skilliter. In a contest that was as physical as any this season, things boiled over at the end of the game, resulting in a skirmish between all ten skaters on the ice. Once the dust began to settle, Shattenkirk let Kozari and Skilliter how he felt about everything: Read more