Here We Go Again

18 04 2012

I honestly never thought I’d see this many suspensions handed out during the playoffs.  Yes, there’s something to be said for the fervor and passionate playing that gets kicked up a notch at this time of year, but this is completely out of control.  I don’t even know where to start, but let’s go with the most covered of them all:  everybody and their brother on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

I know this might not be a very popular opinion with everyone, but hear me out.  As a hockey fan that does not like the Flyers in the least bit, I’m honestly so disappointed in the Penguins for their behavior during that game.  You know what Philly is going to bring to the game:  grit and aggression.  They’re known around the league as a team and organization that likes to push its opponents’ buttons.  With that said, Pittsburgh gave an uncharacteristic and inappropriate reaction to them.  I mean really?  You’ve got Sidney Crosby picking fights with Claude Giroux now?  Kris Letang and Kimmo Timonen both got tossed out of the game before it really started.  It seems like Pittsburgh wanted to let their fists do the talking instead of their skill, which only hurt them in the end.  Philly instigated maybe one or two of those fights.  They sat back, chirped, and let the Penguins come to them and take the fall.  Now you’ve got Asham out for 4 games, Neal is suspended for 1 which, to be honest, could be the last game of the Penguins’ season if they don’t clean up their act.  It’s just disgraceful.  And again, I know this might not be the most popular of opinions, but that’s what it is.  Take it or leave it.

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Matt Carkner got into it with Brian Boyle in Game 2 in New York to start his team out with a little more energy.  However, I don’t think this was the right way to do it.  It’s a completely one-sided fight.  Carkner takes down Boyle, who doesn’t respond, and throws these sucker punches at the bottom of an 8 player pile-up.  I understand fighting and its place in hockey, but I thought there was more of a mutual respect between players in terms of fighting.  If Boyle doesn’t respond, you let him go.  You don’t take him down to the ice and start punching him around.  I didn’t think there should be a suspension here, I just thought it was uncalled for and inappropriate.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

So I have two bones to pick with my team:  one in favor, one against.  This hit by Andrew Shaw on Mike Smith wasn’t, in my opinion, dirty in any way.  However, I completely see how this hit requires review by the league and, ultimately, a suspension.  If this had happened to Corey Crawford, I’d expect a suspension too, strictly because goaltenders are like the quarterbacks of hockey:  you can’t touch them.  And no matter how much I like Andrew Shaw and think he isn’t a dirty player, if anyone else did this I’d expect to see the same punishment for them, too.

Now, on a more serious note, I was absolutely furious last night when I saw the hit that Rafi Torres laid on Marian Hossa.

If he doesn’t get at least 4 games for this hit, Brendan Shanahan needs to have his head examined, because this was dirty in every sense of the word.  Torres left his feet, targeted the head, and is a repeat offender.  Hossa was carted off on a freaking stretcher, and there was NO PENALTY CALLED ON THE PLAY!  I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.  Torres did this last year too, with Vancouver, on Brent Seabrook.  This feels like last season when Aaron Rome laid that hit on Nathan Horton.  But, in case you forgot, here’s a video:

There is no way the refs can play ignorance on this.  Skip to 2:48.  The ref, who is standing right in front of the hit, lurched back as a reaction, then did NOTHING.  Absolutely disgraceful.  I’d like to think that players were past this, but it seems that Torres missed that memo.  I would love to see what the league does with this, because I think they need to treat as they did Matt Cooke.  He was a repeat offender, and after being suspended repeatedly, he switched up his game.  Torres needs to do the same.

What do you guys think of the scrappy nature of this first round of the playoffs?  Let us know in the comments!


The Kids Are Alright

20 01 2012

Actually, they’re more than alright.  They’re taking the Windy City by storm.  Even more than this winter storm we’ve got going on right now (the flakes are massive).

Andrew Shaw, 20, and Jimmy Hayes, 22, both came up from Chicago’s minor league affiliate Rockford IceHogs to help the Blackhawks and their injury depleted lineup (Marcus Kruger, concussion; Daniel Carcillo, knee surgery; Patrick Sharp, wrist).  Normally, when a younger guy comes up to help the team out, they’ve filled a hole on the roster and helped out minimally in terms of ice time, especially with guys like Toews, Kane and Hossa chewing up quality minutes.

But oh, how the times are a-changin’.  In just 10 games with the Hawks, Hayes has put up 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists), not to mention scoring his first NHL goal in his second career game against the Edmonton Oilers on January 2.  Oh yeah, and Joel Quenneville trusted him enough to take the team awarded penalty shot (he missed).  He’s a BIG guy (6’6″, 220 lbs), and fills a Byfuglien-esque hole that the Hawks have had for quite some time.  He’s a fast skater, quick hands, and DUH he’s massive.  Did I mention he’s from Boston?

Pahk da cah in Hahvahd yaaaaaahd

And then there’s Andrew Shaw, who’s so talented he hasn’t even posted his first NHL assist yet.  He has 5 goals in 8 games, and has been rewarded by playing a penalty killing unit with Captain Sexpanther.  He even scored his first NHL goal, on his first shot, in his first game against the Flyers on January 5 (same as the Cap’n).  Shaw also dropped the gloves with Zac Rinaldo of the Phildelphia Flyers in the first period of his first NHL game.  He’s a stud, this guy, and he’s 20.  My age.  I never want to mention successful people my age in front of my parents because I fear they’ll yell at me for watching too much “Ellen”.  Sorry I’m not a very good hockey player, guys.

Plus, he’s taking Twitter and Chicago by storm.  Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to “ShawFacts”, otherwise known as reasons why Andrew Shaw is a bada$$.  Go ahead and read a few compiled by Blackhawks writers on their website by clicking here.  They have a definite Chuck Norris feel to them.

Don't mind me, I'm just about to score a goal (and Detroit sucks.)

UPDATE: I forgot to add this earlier, and not many people realize this, but Andrew Shaw was passed over in not one, but two NHL drafts, until finally being selected in the 5th round.  Talk about a steal.

It just goes to show what a quality minor league system the Blackhawks have.  President and CEO John McDonough said he wanted to develop a “Blackhawks Way” of playing hockey and front office methods, and they’re following through.  These guys have come up and made their presence known so much, that no commentator or pundit has said, “I wonder how the Blackhawks would be playing if Sharp and Carcillo were healthy.”  These kids are just that good.  So, hockey fans, let’s enjoy their presence here while we can, and I know we’ll see a lot more of them in the future.

Plus, in a post-game interview, Patrick Kane said he loves hanging out with both of them, and that Hayes’ accent is his favorite part.  Who doesn’t love a good ol’ Boston boy?


PS Tonight the Hawks are hosting the Florida Panthers.  Aka Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Jack Skille, and Kris “Beauty” Versteeg will be in the building.  I’ll definitely be watching the game, will you?