Well, maybe if you don’t like hockey anyway, don’t know anything about it, or you’re a reporter who never stayed up late enough to watch games played on the West Coast, or if when you say “hockey” you mean “advertising revenue and/or network ratings for hockey.” Or you’re Shane Doan.
It seems as if no matter how the NHL tweaks hockey to open up the play so that offensive stars can shine, the game still manages to devolve into random tedium as the Stanley Cup playoffs progress, much as it has in the current finals matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils.
Lots of things appear random that are in fact not random. Required: understanding what you’re looking at.
The Kings [...] play a style of hockey that has met with a certain derision. The team has come to epitomize a lockdown mentality that takes the air out of the room, and the scoring out of the game.
The Devils can’t really argue with the Kings’ strategy, which relies on big, high-skill players lining up two or three deep in front of the net to deflect pucks,
This season the Kings were second to last in the league in blocked shots. Last? New Jersey. Good theory you’ve got there.
and on corralling bounces for quick rushes and scoring chances at the other end.
But. Quick rushes and scoring chances. Are good? Right?
Thus, upsetting the many journalists who were working on their “shot blocking is killing hockey” dissertation. The fact that the Rangers were unsuccessful with this strategy should be worth something, no?
L.A., meanwhile, has perfected a jittery, block-ready defensive zone trap that gives New Jersey’s star forwards precious little wiggle room and makes most scoring chances a hope for the best – a pinball, instead of an actual skilled play.
The fact is, New Jersey hasn’t been able to score at all. But the Kings have scored on numerous “actual skilled plays.”
Kopitar scores on a breakaway in overtime. Carter scores on a second or third effort with a sweet shot in overtime. Doughty scores on a Bobby-Orr-esque rush. Kopitar scores on a bang-bang-bang pass play on a rush. Chicago blogger? Come on.
Los Angeles blew past the Devils 4-0 in Game 3 on Monday, but previous matches had been low-scoring and even tedious. The first two games went to overtime, but there was little of the flow and go, run and gun that had dominated the playoffs’ early rounds, in which every team with more than 100 points on the season was eliminated.
Translation: “Although one game out of three doesn’t fit my dopey theory, the other two were boring, I say, despite the fact that both of those ended with thrilling OT goals (see above) and dozens of spectacular saves by both goalies, all of which pales in comparison to the exciting back and forth action of defenseless teams that racked up points in the regular season when it doesn’t matter but couldn’t win when it counted.”
Yeah, the Kings had 95 points. They had more points last year. 101 two years ago. It’s not a guarantee of anything.
[update -- see comments below -- the Devils had 102 points this year.]
Hence, the finals fell to teams that proved they could play defensive games studiously and consistently.
The finals “fell” to the Kings and Devils. By virtue of beating everyone else.
“Low-scoring games typically go to overtime, connoting the notion of excitement and parity when it is instead gridlock and stalemate,” groans Canadian hockey writer Bruce Dowbiggin, of The Globe and Mail, in a column.
Literally one of the dumbest people ever conceived. Okay, that’s going too far. But citing this guy is not helping your case, CSM.
“Change the names and jerseys and very few would notice. The league’s Hockey Operations department wants it thus. Coach’s Corner likes it thus. The networks grudgingly go along. What choice do they have?”
What can any of this even mean? Who wouldn’t notice if Jonathan Quick and Martin Brodeur switched jerseys? Or Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk? Zach Parise and Mike Richards? People who actually watch hockey can recognize players — even without numbers or names on the back — just by the way they look when they skate. Seriously, Kings fans, picture Wayne Simmonds, or Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Nick Lidstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Smyth, Rob Blake. Easy, right. You could wrap them head to toe in rubber and we’d be able to recognize them from the cheap seats.
NBC can’t be happy, though. Viewership for Game 2 was 2.54 million, down from Game 1′s 2.9 million – a five-year low. The History Channel’s “Swamp People,” with 4.85 million viewers, beat Stanley hands down on the kickoff night of the finals.
I think the game two numbers don’t include the West Coast, which is the way that usually works. Still, I’m sure NBC isn’t thrilled with the numbers. To which I say,
WHO GIVES A ****?
I’m not an advertiser. I’m not a network. I followed hockey when there were 12 teams and nothing on TV. I don’t care how popular it is. What kind of a moron only likes or cares about things that are popular, or equates popular with good. If anything, the relationship is inverse.
Hair-tearing hockey fans have already come up with numerous prescriptions, as they are wont to do. Some say to penalize shot blocks that involve kneeling or lying, down on the ice. Others suggest a basketball-court-like “key” in front of the net, which only two defensive players can patrol.
None of that will happen, of course.
Right. Because it’s all mind-numbingly stupid. Hey, baseball would be higher scoring if the fielders weren’t allowed to use those annoying gloves. And football — oh so boring with all its stopping and starting — I say we declare all incomplete passes are now FUMBLES.
Oh, how exciting everything will be!
[...] Before the latest criticism, the concern was – not for the first time – that violence and brutality are what sparked high viewership in the early rounds, another indication of hockey’s perennial high-wire act between sportsmanship and bloody knuckles, between the push for more goals against the bottom-line goal of winning a Stanley Cup, by whatever scheme necessary.
Scheme = coaching. (gasp)
“The people that are writing about us with our shot blocking … I think they’re idiots,” Tortorella told NBC’s Bob Costas recently. “Blocking shots is part of playing proper defense, and we’ve got a couple of guys covering our team that don’t get it. And that really upsets me. Not for myself, but for the players that do it. It’s part of us. It’s part of what these guys want to do.”
Maybe we should go back to the old rule that said it was a penalty for the goalie to leave his feet.