Some thoughts on the post-season thus far as well as continued Flames coverage here on FN.
– How useful is Dave Bolland? Somewhat overlooked during the regular season, Bolland has been instrumental in turning the series around for Chicago against the Canucks. Through three games he has two goals and four assists and that’s despite mostly playing against the Sedins in some of the toughest circumstances possible. Bolland has seen just six (!!) offensive zone draws in the series thus far, but was in the black in terms of possession before last night’s contest. That’s outstanding work against some of the best in the biz.
Plus there’s stuff like this:
– All that said, Chicago is probably a bit lucky to still be in the series after last night. The Canucks had the ice tilted for most of the evening, to the tune of an overall corsi advantage of +32. Every single Hawk player spent more time in his own end at even strength last night, including Bolland and many of them were deep under water. If they want to close out the come back in Vancouver, a better evening at 5-on-5 is in order. game-tying, penalty shots are rare animals.
– Of course, if the Vancouver choke does come to fruition, feel free to head over to Canucks Army and give them the business. Sure Vancouver has a better team than the Flames and probably will in the forseeable future, but a collapse of thise magnitude deserves mockery nonetheless.
(pic courtesy of Andrew Loudoun)
– Congratulations to the Nashville Predators and especially Barry Trotz for making it out of the first round. The franchise has endured a lot of lean years and spun straw into gold with a combination of good drafting, frugal UFA market pick-ups and, of course, good coaching. The road gets a lot rockier for the Preds from here on out, but they deserve praise even if they fall to whomever in round 2.
– No one should bet terribly surprised the preds made it past the Ducks BTW. As we’ve mentioned around these parts, Anaheim has a very nice top-end but things fall off rapidly after that. The Ducks had some of the worst underlying numbers at ES this regular season and combination of Jonas Hiller, a potent power-play and Corey Perry catching fire down the stretch got them to the dance. When Hiller went down for the count, the long-term fortunes of the Ducks lessened significantly. Excellent teams can get away with average goaltending, but not a middling club like the Ducks.
– Mike Richards hits Tim Connolly into the boards from behind, injuring him for the remainder of the game (and possibly the series). The NHL doesn’t suspend Richards, of course, because…well, the NHL doesn’t care overly much about punishing dangerous hits despite all it’s bluster to the contrary. It cares about seeming to care, but that’s another matter entirely.
What’s really interesting is what the true lack of enforceable standards or consistency in justice causes in response to such acts:
I don’t believe there’s any malicious intent from Richards, and it does sound horrible and you feel bad saying it, but there’s definitely some onus on Connolly to not put himself in that kind of position. The rulebook even says that. But for the most part, I think the lack of suspension is the right call based solely on the precedent we’ve seen in these playoffs so far.
That’s from the link above and admittedly the thoughts of a Flyers fan. Still, this is a perfect example of the three primary rationalizations for needless or excessive violence we see now and then in the NHL. Let’s count them:
1.) The "no malicious intent" justification. I’ve written about this before for The Score, in that the league should stop worrying about mens rea when doling out discipline. For two reasons – firstly, because it’s pretty much impossible to read intent from most actions in the game, outside of extreme stick-swinging of the Marty McSorly type. We none of us are mind-readers. And secondly, it doesn’t much matter if Richards was planning to kill Connolly or if we has thinking about kittens and unicorns at the time. The result is the same: a dangerous, injurious, illegal hit from behind.
2.) "There’s definitely some onus on Connolly to not put himself in that kind of position" is called blaming the victim and it’s one of the oldest, most enduring cognitive biases around. It comes from psychological need to perceive the universe as essentially just, so people often find ways to suggest victims "deserve" their treatment somehow.
It’s also telling that in discussions and debates around this topic you’ll hear some folks defending the perpetrators of dangerous hits on the basis of hockey being a "fast game" and things "happening quickly". And yet, no one seems to apply that line of thought to the victims of hits.
As anyone who has played hockey can tell you, it’s entirely impossible to "defend yourself" from potentially harmful plays at all times when you’re on the ice. No matter how guarded you are nor how much you keep your head up, there’s going to be a point at which you become vulnerable to one degree or another. Like, for instance skating into the boards to retrieve a puck and some dude shoves you from behind.
3.) The "lack of precedent" or what I call "Jimmy’s parents let him stay up late!" argument. This rationalization is a self-inflicted feedback loop created by the NHL’s inconstant discipline. Imagine, for instance, if Joe Thornton hits Dustin Brown from behind in the next SJS-LAK game. Now Sharks fans can point to the Richards case and declare "no suspension based on precendent!"
This rant wasn’t aimed solely at Travis Hughes, because you see this stuff all the time when a questionable play occurs in the league these days.
– Not a lot happening on the Flames front news-wise, so we’ll continue to dig through the numbers and post our analysis here at FlamesNation. Pat and I will follow-up Robert’s in-depth look at the forwards this week. We will begin to pull the perspective back somewhat after that with a view to look at the club as a whole and particularly what it all means when it comes to the Flames cap situation, the draft and the free agent market. We will also start to share some of the overall scoring chance numbers gleaned from the regular season.
I hasten to add that if any one has any questions about the quantative stuff thrown around here, don’t hesitate to pipe up in the comments or send an email question or two. We’re on the bleeding edge when it comes to some of this stuff, so it’s perfectly natural not to be out in front of it all. Also – if enough readers would like a "glossary of terms" for the site, I could be motivated to put one together.
– Speaking of the draft, there’s a good chance FN will be strongly represented in Minnesota when the event rolls around in late June. Let us know what kind of coverage you’d like to see when we’re down there and we’ll try our best to fulfill all expectations.