In almost every comment I see on the fighting debate, people seem to glorify the idea of the spontaneous fight and want to get rid of the "planned" fight.
Personally, I completely disagree. The spontaneous fight where two players are just mad is a selfish fight; it's not done for the team. I appreciate the fights where a guy takes it on himself to protect his teammates or get his team going because he doesn’t do it for himself, but for the team.
It is the instigator penalty that creates planned fights because players cannot take care of things when they happen. The camaraderie in hockey is something that separates it from other sports. Junior and pro players should always have the ability to defend their teammates. The game would lose something incredibly important if that option is taken away.
Down Goes Brown: Five times a team avenged a round robin loss at the World Cup
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 21, 2016
The history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped, so don't worry just yet. Unless you're Team USA.
We're two games into the round robin portion of the World Cup, and we've already seen a handful of upsets, with favorites like Russia and the United States already tasting defeat, and in the case of the Americans, already being eliminated. With one game to go and some of the four playoff spots still up for grabs, fans around the world are no doubt panicking over the games their teams let get away.
But while the round robin is obviously important – you have to make the playoffs to win the whole thing – it's worth remembering that the results of individual games don't necessarily tell us much as much as we might think about what will happen in the playoff rounds.
In fact, the history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped down the line. So in an effort to calm some nerves, here are five times that overreacting to a round robin result would have steered you wrong once the eliminations games began.
1976: Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0
In the first ever round robin game in Canada Cup history, Canada made a statement by crushing Finland 11-2. They went on the beat Sweden and the U.S., and they closed out the round with a win over their arch-rivals from the Soviet Union, winning those three games by a combined score of 11-3.
But in between, they dropped a surprising decision to Czechoslovakia. Vladimir Dzurilla outduelled Rogie Vachon at the Montreal Forum, turning aside all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 win. The game was an instant classic, described at the time as one of the best ever played.
The two teams finished at the top of round robin standings, setting up a best-of-three final. But there was no repeat of Dzurilla's heroics – Team Canada blitzed him for four goals in the first period of the opening game, sending him to the bench and paving the way for a lopsided 6-0 win. Game 2 was more entertaining, with Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes in before a Czechoslovakian comeback set the stage for Darryl Sittler's tournament winner in overtime.
1981: Canada 7 – Soviet Union 3
By 1981, the Soviet Union was coming off a relatively rough stretch of international play. They'd won their usual Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976, but been upset by Team USA's Miracle on Ice squad in 1980, lost the 1972 Summit Series, and failed to even make the final of the 1976 Canada Cup.
When they met Canada in 1981 in the final game of the round robin, both teams were undefeated and battling for first place. The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the third, but Canada erupted for five straight goals in what ended up being a 7-3 laugher. Even with star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak sitting out due to illness, the result was an embarrassing one for the Soviets.
Both teams won their semifinal game to advance to a one-game winner-take-all final in Montreal. With Tretiak back in goal, most fans expected a closer game. Instead, they got an even bigger blowout. But this time, it was the Soviets who ran up the score, earning an 8-1 win and handing Canada what still stands to this day as its most embarrassing international loss.
1984: Soviet Union 6 – Canada 3
Three years after their impressive win, the Soviets looked even more dominant through the round robin portion of the 1984 tournament. Heading into a final game showdown against a struggling Team Canada, they were sporting a 4-0-0 record and looking to wrap up the tournament's top seed. They went on to smother their rivals in an impressive 6-3 win, finishing the round robin with a perfect record and dropping Canada down to fourth place.
That set up another meeting between the two nations in the tournament semi-final, held just three days later in Calgary. After being held to just 17 shots in the round robin, Canada exploded for 41 in the rematch. But Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin stood on his head, and had his team in position to win with a 2-1 lead late in regulation. It took a late goal by Doug Wilson to set up overtime, where Paul Coffey's lunging breakup of a Soviet 2-on-1 set the stage of Mike Bossy's sudden death winner.
Canada went on to sweep Sweden in the final to claim the tournament. It marked the third straight time that the eventual Canada Cup champion had avenged a round robin loss on the way to their title.
1987: Czechoslovakia 4 – Canada 4; Sweden 5 – Soviet Union 3
The 1987 Canada Cup marked the first time that the eventual champion went undefeated through the round robin. That would be Canada, who beat the Soviets in a three-game classic punctuated by Mario Lemieux's historic winner.
But while Canada didn't have any losses to avenge on their way to the title, they weren't perfect in the round robin. And the first blemish came in their opening game, when a rusty Canadian squad blew a third period lead on their way to a 4-4 tie with Czechoslovakia. That was a disappointing result against a team that had gone 0-4-1 in the previous tournament, and raised questions as to whether Canada could defend their crown. Meanwhile, the tournament's other favorite had a disappointing opening of their own, as the Soviets gave up three goals in the first eight minutes while dropping a 5-3 decisions to Sweden.
Both powerhouses recovered well, with each winning three straight before facing each other in the round robin finale and skating to a 3-3 draw. That set up a pair of semifinal rematches, with Canada facing Czechoslovakia and the Soviets drawing Sweden.
This time, the favorites took care of business. Canada started slowly but pumped home four straight goals to take a 5-3 final, while the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before eliminating Sweden by a 4-2 score. That set the stage for a final that still stands as perhaps the best international hockey series ever played.
As a side note, the Czechoslovakian goaltender for both of those games against Canada was a 22-year-old kid that most North Americans had never heard of. He eventually made it to the NHL three years later, and turned out to be pretty good. He even got some revenge against Canada at an international tournament over a decade later.
2004: Russia 3 – USA 1; Sweden 4 – Czech Republic 3
Canada didn't have to avenge any round robin losses on their way to the 1991 title, and the United States likewise was a perfect 3-0-0 under the new World Cup format before winning it all in 1996. Canada repeated that feat in 2004, making it four straight Canada/World Cups that have been won by a team that didn't suffer a loss during the round robin. Yes, that's right – it's now been 32 years and counting since a team lost a round robin game and still managed to win this tournament. Wait, this is supposed to be about giving teams that lost in the round robin hope. Forget everything I just mentioned.
But we can still find a couple of revenge games in the 2004 round robin, thanks to that year's, um, interesting format. The tournament featured eight teams, and the playoff round featured… eight teams. Yes, everyone made the playoffs in 2004, with the round robin settling the seeding and nothing else.
That format actually gave us a few interesting moments, like top-seeded Finland needing a goal in the dying minutes to edge winless Germany 2-1. And it also set up a pair of interesting rematches. In the round robin, the defending champion Team USA had dropped its first two games, to Canada and Russia. In the latter game, they fell 3-1 while being outshot 45-21. The 0-2 start didn't hurt their playoff hopes, because of the whole "everyone makes it" thing, but it certainly put a dent in their confidence.
Meanwhile, the Czechs dropped their opener 4-0 to Finland, then fell behind by the same score to Sweden. They came back to at least make that game a respectable 4-3 final, but other than running up the score on Germany in the finale, they didn't come out of the round robin with much room for optimism.
But in the opening round, both teams got a chance at payback, and both took it. The Czechs looked like a different team, shelling Mikael Tellqvist and Team Sweden in a 6-1 win. The Russia/Team USA rematch was a closer affair, with both teams going back and forth, but the Americans held on for a 5-3 win.
Both teams went on to lose in the semifinal, although the U.S. blew a late lead against Finland and the Czechs took Canada to overtime. Canada beat Finland in the one-game final, the year-long NHL lockout began the next day, and the World Cup hasn't been seen since. Twelve years later, we're finally getting another look at the tournament, and another chance to see a tough round robin loss avenged in the playoffs.
At least, that's what teams like Russia, Finland and North America are hoping.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Five burning questions (and answers) about USA's World Cup debacle
By: Ken Campbell
Sep 23, 2016
Team USA put a bow on one of its worst performances ever on the international stage when it lost its final game in the World Cup of Hockey.
So what are we left to think of Team USA after the debacle known as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey? That’s probably the only question left to contemplate after watching a tournament that started with so much promise and progressed into a six-day tire fire.
There is so much to contemplate about this team. Surely it was not as bad as its record indicated. There were notable omissions on the roster, yes, but so notable that this team couldn’t muster a single goal against a hybrid team of players from third-world hockey countries? So glaring that it could not beat a Czech team that had only three NHL defensemen, not a single one who is a top-four for his varsity team?
Well, let’s see what we can come up with here:
Is this the worst best-on-best showing for an American entry in the history of the game?
Statistically, there’s no question. This team went 0-3-0, finishing the tournament with a 4-3 loss to the Czech Republic in a game in which the American team couldn’t even salvage some pride. But practically speaking, probably not. That dubious distinction still belongs to the 1998 Olympic team, which entered the tournament as the co-favorite to win the gold medal. It had six players who had scored 50 goals in the NHL and five players who would go on to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
That team won just one game in the tournament, against Belarus, was beaten 4-1 by the Czechs in the quarterfinal, then trashed their rooms in the Nagano athletes’ village.
This team was bad, even worse than the 1976 Canada Cup team that was loaded with non-NHL players, but given the expectations and talent level of the 1998 team, that still represented the nadir for USA Hockey. This one is close, though.
Is this one of the rare times where the eye test clearly supersedes analytics?
At first blush, you might think so, but once you dig deeper into the numbers, it becomes a little less convincing. It’s easy to forget that Team USA outshot its opponents in each of its three games, even the game against Canada. Overall, it outshot its opponents by a 110-78 margin and the shot attempts were a mind-boggling 212-148. But you also have to remember that the Americans were playing from behind most of the time, so it’s natural that a team sitting on a lead is going to let up and a team playing from behind is going to pour it on.
Still, though, according to www.naturalstattrick.com, the score adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi was plus 24.6 against the Czechs Thursday night and plus-15.1 against Europe. Against Canada, it was (gulp) minus-29.3. The Americans also outhit their opponents by a more than 2-to-1 margin, 90-42, which suggests they were chasing the play quite a bit. Actually, they were chasing the entire tournament. And when it comes to the eye test, was there any time that it seemed the Americans were dictating the pace of the game, where they had things under control, where they were successfully executing a game plan?
“You fall behind early in this tournament and before you know it, you’re 0-and-3 and packing your bags,” said Team USA winger Blake Wheeler. “I think that first game (a 3-0 loss to Team Europe) was the killer. We could just never really recover.”
Did the Americans leave their best goaltender in the stands and on the bench?
Well, we’ll never know how well Cory Schneider would have done had he been given the N0. 1 job on this team because he was never given a real chance. His only action was to mop up the game against the Czechs, a game in which he stopped all seven shots he faced. But we do know that Jonathan Quick surrendered seven goals on 51 shots and Ben Bishop allowed four on 20 shots in what could only be characterized as a shaky performance.
There were some goals against Europe and Canada on which Quick did not have much of a chance. The goaltending wasn’t near good enough and the defensive coverage was so lacking that it made Quick look even worse.
The coach defended his roster and liked its compete level. So if that wasn’t the problem, is it just a matter of USA’s players not being good enough to compete at this level?
Well, it’s pretty difficult to convince anyone that Patrick Kane isn’t one of the NHL’s best players. He has the scoring championship and Hart Trophy to prove it. He also hasn’t scored a goal in a best-on-best tournament since the Olympics in Vancouver. Only four forwards on the team scored a goal and all were outscored by defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who had two. Team USA had 11 power-play opportunities in the tournament and scored just once.
“This team has been kind of characterized as a team just full of plumbers and grinders,” said Team USA coach John Tortorella. “I don’t agree with that. I think we have some really good offensive people. I think we have a really good mix. The bottom line is we leave here with nothing, and so certainly we can’t be happy about that. In a tournament like this, I think you’ve got to be really careful not to lose your mind as far as what’s going on with some of the guys.”
What does the future hold for USA Hockey?
Well, first, you’d have to think there will be some kind of housecleaning done here. Don’t be surprised if a young, bright mind such as Bill Guerin has a more prominent role in the best-on-best player selection process. Mike Sullivan, who won a Stanley Cup this spring, will likely be at the top of the list of coaching candidates. The people who put this team together did it based on a completely flawed logic, then hired the wrong coach and picked the wrong group of players.
Author: Vaughn Ridley/World Cup of Hockey via Getty Images)
Willingness to stick to the plan powers Canada to World Cup final
By: Ryan Kennedy
Sep 24, 2016
Canada got a scare from the Russians and trailed for the second time in the entire tournament, but Brad Marchand’s pair of goals helped put Canada ahead for good.
It was looking a little dicey for Canada for awhile. Even though the master plan was in full effect – control the play and bombard Russia with shots – netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was playing Superman in the other crease. But good things tend to happen when Canada follows the plan and eventually Bobrovsky could hold the fort no longer. In the end, Canada got the 5-3 score that reflected the imbalance on the ice and now the Canucks move on to the World Cup final.
It's actually quite incredible that Russia led the game 2-1 at one point in the second. After Sidney Crosby opened the scoring with a tremendous strip and deke in the first, Russia repaid Bobrovsky for his heroics in the second. A bad Jay Bouwmeester pinch led to a 2-on-1 and a Nikita Kucherov snipe, which was followed by Evgeny Kuznetsov cashing in on a nice charge by Ivan Telegin.
But Crosby came to Canada's rescue again, hawking another puck in the offensive zone and slinging it to a wide-open Brad Marchand, who made no mistake at the side of the net.
The dam finally broke in the third, with Marchand slipping a wrister past Bobrovsky, followed by strikes by Corey Perry and John Tavares. Canada outshot Russia brutally throughout the contest and the possession numbers were similarly one-sided, as one would presume. Despite Bobrovsky's all-world play (a quick recap: he stoned Tavares on two point-blank shots, outwaited Steven Stamkos on a goal-mouth sojourn and stopped a streaking Marchand tip, among many other feats), Canada got the result it deserved.
Alex Ovechkin was practically invisible thanks to Shea Weber and Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Canada's excellent defensive forwards made up for some shaky play by blueliners Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo.
So now the Red and White Killing Machine moves on, to face either Sweden or Europe. Canada got a nice challenge from Russia, at least for part of the game, and now the gold is in sight. If everybody sticks to the plan, as per usual, Canada will be very hard to beat once in the final, let alone twice.
Sidney Crosby dominated Canada's first game at the 2016 World Cup, just like he dominated the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Is this is the best version of Sid yet?
TORONTO – I'll try to keep the hyperbole at a minimum here, but when it comes to Sidney Crosby, one of the greatest hockey players of all-time, it's difficult to avoid.
So I won't say the hockey world left Crosby for dead last December. But considering the lofty standard he's set for himself throughout his career, he experienced perhaps his own equivalent of being left for dead. He had two goals and 11 points after 20 games. He was struggling through a season so miserable he even wrote this summer about how badly he never wanted to experience that feeling again. The idea of him climbing back into the NHL scoring race and reclaiming his unofficial title of World's Best Hockey Player seemed far fetched. The sport belonged to Patrick Kane or, the year before, Carey Price. And there was nothing wrong with that. Crosby was a decade into a Hall of Fame career, he was nearing the end of his 20s, and it was possible he was merely exiting his prime a bit earlier than expected.
The Crosby-is-finished hype looks laughable now in hindsight. From the moment the Penguins fired coach Mike Johnston and promoted Mike Sullivan from their AHL affiliate, Crosby ignited. Sullivan helped free him up to play his north-south game at breakneck speed. Crosby's 66 points in 52 games over the rest of the season led the NHL. He was the league's best player in the playoffs and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as second-season MVP. His days of lapping the scoring field with 120-point seasons were over, but the new Crosby was an evolved version, dominant in every aspect of the game, from faceoffs to lower-body strength to puck protection to advanced statistics to his good, ole-fashioned laser of a backhander. Like Steve Yzerman midway through his career, Crosby enjoyed a renaissance of sorts as a more complete specimen.
After watching Crosby skate circles around the Czechs in Canada's first round-robin game at the World Cup Saturday, it's time to wonder if Crosby, already the best player of this generation, is getting better. His chemistry with linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand is excellent. He showed a sixth sense when he fed Joe Thornton all alone in the slot for Canada's fourth goal. He looked flawless out there.
"I think he's always been the best player in the world," said defenseman Brent Burns, Crosby's Stanley Cup final foe with the San Jose Sharks, now his teammate with Canada. "What makes him that is he works every day at it. He's always striving to get better, to be the best and stay up on that plateau, I think there are a lot of guys chasing him, and that pushes him to get better."
Now's the time when angry Flyers fans, er, blog commenters, strike back against the so-called insufferable Crosby love. But to do so at this point is to merely be a contrarian, to be a hater of greatness. Instead of fighting it, just stop and appreciate it. It wasn't hyperbolic to praise Wayne Gretzky's brilliance, nor Bobby Orr's, nor Mario Lemieux's, nor Patrick Roy's. And Crosby is approaching a similar stratosphere. He has two scoring titles, two MVPs, two Stanley Cups, a Rocket Richard, two Olympic gold medals, two Olympic game-winning goals, a World Championship and the highest points per game of any NHLer in history not named Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux or Bossy. If he keeps playing like he did to open the World Cup, he'll add one more impressive team trophy to the case. Canada coach Mike Babcock isn't yet ready to concede that Crosby has reached a new level, though.
"Let's not get carried way," Babcock said. "He was the star in Sochi. He was the star in Vancouver. What you saw tonight, though, is he got the points. Everyone likes to get points, Sid likes to get points, too, but it took the team to win, and he was the leader. Were in the process here, and as the team gets better, he has to get better. But it was a good start for his line."
And maybe why Crosby keeps improving is because he adopts that same mindset. He's never satisfied. Neither were any of the sport's all-time greats.
"There are still things we can improve on, but to get rewarded for our hard work, and get a couple on the power play, and get some big kills early on, all those little things go a long way," he told reporters after the game.
And that line is Crosby in a nutshell, isn't it? The man accomplishing the big things on the big stage is the one obsessed with the little things.