Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hit and Sit

Here's a newsflash for those who admantly disagree that all head shots...accidental or not...should be removed from the game, for fear of losing good, clean bodychecks: hitting is already leaving hockey. It's not the rules-makers doing it, either. It's the guys on the ice; the players and referees themselves.

The Canadiens lost to the Rangers because Mike Blunden laid a solid bodycheck and the Rangers, as so many teams do these days, took exception. In the unjustified scrum that followed, the Habs drew the short-handed straw and lost their fourth-line centreman. The Rangers scored on the 5-on-3 and that was enough to get them rolling. Without a fourth line, the Habs played catch-up all night and, despite showing lots of heart (when they weren't in the box), they couldn't quite make it all the way back.

We see this so often. A perfectly legal check, intended only to remove the puck from the puck carrier, triggers foolish and unwarrented retribution. Players say they want hitting in hockey, but when someone actually delivers a good hit, they take offence. There was no reason for the Rangers to get all up in arms over the Blunden hit. When they did, the refs shouldn't have fallen for it and punished the Canadiens with the extra penalty. They shouldn't even have called the first penalty. They called the Blunden hit interference, but the definition of interference is "impeding the motion of a player not in possession of the puck." The Ranger player had the puck when Blunden hit him, which made the check legal.

In the end, it didn't matter. The refs called a lot of borderline penalties on the Canadiens and not the Rangers. That's the way it goes sometimes, and you can give the Habs kudos for pushing back. It's just too bad a good effort was spoiled because the Rangers can't take a check.

12 comments:

dusty said...

Silly me. I didn't know that the instigator rule had been removed from the rule book. I was waiting for Callaghan to get 2, 5 and 10 negating the Habs obligatory too many men penalty and the game continuing 5 on 5.

Since the economy is in dire straits, maybe the NHL should return to one referee. Surely two incompetents are not required to screw up the game.

Anonymous said...

it wasn't a dirty hit, just a cheap hit. blunden jumped of the bench illegally specifically to make that hit. it was bush league. i have no problems with callahan taking offense to it. not sure why it was a 5-3 power play afterwards, as it wasn't interference, but you can't jump off the bench and deck someone any time you feel like it.

Raj said...

I don't think Blunden jumped off the bench on purpose. He must have thought the players coming off were within the 5 feet of the bench that's allowed. I also don't understand why it was a "cheap" hit.

I agree with JT -- if the players want hitting in the game, they shouldn't react to the hits that occur. Greg Campbell going after PK last year when the latter drilled Marchand is another example. That the players want to hit but not be hit is understandable, but hypocritical in that they say hitting and fighting should remain in the game.

dusty said...

Blunden was on a line change and the player he was replacing looked to be 5 or so feet from the bench but Blunden came in contact with the player with the puck so that is too many men on the ice not interference. Giving him two penalties was just plain wrong. The idea that he jumped off the bench specifically to hit Dubinsky is ridiculous.

Almost as ridiculous as giving Subban two minutes for showering King Henry's pads with a little snow. Maybe since the players don't seem to like getting hit the NHL should move towards removing contact entirely.

How come Gorges gets clobbered and gets up without a temper tantrum?

Harry said...

It wasn't a cheap hit it was a clean hit,what was he supposed to do-step aside and say excuse me Mr Dubinsky !!There should have been an instigator penalty given to Dubinsky BUT that did not happen and such crap will continue after a clean hit until some sort of penalty is given to stop them.

Anonymous said...

How many trips were there on AK that weren't called?
The PK penalty for "unsportsmanlike" was perposterous.
Tim Peel should be embarrassed.
Gary Bettman is a joke.

Woodvid said...

There was a game earlier this season (might've been pre-season), where one ref couldn't make it, so they did the game with only one. Apparently the players loved it. I'd like to see a return to that. I think it results in more consistent calls during a game, and players know what to expect.

Wish I could find a reference for that game, but no luck. :-(

Woodvid said...

Found the game reference:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/recap/_/id/400047474/phoenix-coyotes-vs-anaheim-ducks

And it was Elliotte Friedman who reported that the players liked it:
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/opinion/2011/10/goalie-mask-changes-needed-plus-30-thoughts.html
(Thought #4 :-)

BONZOHABS said...

Nice read. I was really confused when the call was being announced. I didn't understand why we were down 2 men? I thought it would be all offsetting minors except for Blunden's Too-many-men call. It was a too-many-men call, but obstruction? Really? Because he obstructed the play when the Rangers had the puck. It wasn't like he was on the bench and stuck his stick out to clothes-line him. He went on the ice for a change a second two early and made a play! That was a botched call...and I dunno why Nokelainen and Sauer got 10 min. majors!? They scrummed too! Callahan shoulda got a instigator call! Refs botched the game. When it was 5-on-5, Habs dominated the Rangers and when the Habs weren't being called we had good momentum and chances. I give Habs a lot of credit for coming back, but I woulda liked to see at least a point outta this game. Habs just gotta take positive from it and move on. Go Habs Go!

Anonymous said...

Blunden made a fine play and a clean hit. The Rangers did the smart thing. They went after Blunden, stopping the play. That ref team isn't the most experienced or highest rated. When it all skakes out the Habs are short. Both penalties were proper, neither would have been called had the play just continued. Never give the zebras time to think "Well, technically they..."

The Habs came in tired. You can't sit all week, play the evening before, travel, hotel, and have jump. Bodies don't work that way. Montreal blew that game with stupid decisions from the first penalty onwards. Even down 2 men they did the stupid thing and chased the puck. Had they justr crashed Gaborik or Richards the Rangers would have flipped out allowing the refs to heave a sigh of relief and even it up. The worst would have been one man short for four minutes, rather than two for two.

Dumb, juvenile, and selfish decisions by a tired and cranky team who for some unknown reason have the stupidest schedule any New York programmer could fiendishly devise.

And to top it all off Hitchcock is hired by St Louis and Gomez is threatening to come back. It won't get any better.

Ian Cobb said...

Ian Cobb Says:
November 9th, 2011 at 8:51 am

With parity in the league kicking in big time now, one thing remains the largest difference between winning and losing. And that is the flexibility and the imagination of the coaching staff.

The Mtl. coaching staff are playing their players the same exact way each and every game. The players are putting their heart and sole into each game with great energy and enthusiasm, but with the same result most nights.

How easy does that make it for the opposition’s scouting to come up with a counter game plan to implement against us when there is no flexibility in the coaching style.

Take one of our best players for example, Plekanic!, who is playing with Patches and Gionta on the top line getting top minutes throughout the game. Then Martin uses Plekanic killing of penalties, burning much energy. Martin again calls on him to play the right point on every power play to the point of exhaustion. After the half way point in the game last night he was no longer effective with the puck and even fell on a power play giving Edmonton a short handed goal. As a matter of fact he was on the ice for both goals against us because he was behind the play.

This is not a players fault, it is a coaching problem. Pleks is not the only player used improperly every game. I just wanted to use him as an example of how easy it is for the opposition to key on players or parts of our game that never changes from night to night. I could go on about it including how consistent we are playing 5 on 5, never any change, we play the same defensive game in and game out. When we need an offensive push, most players are finding it very difficult to switch team play after playing 80% defensive minutes.

Again the responsibility lies with the coaching staff in what capacity to use players for each of them and the team to be successful. And to not be so predictable with the game plan for the opposition to easily scout and counter. All teams today can be beaten by most other teams. The biggest difference in winning and losing is the coaching in today’s NHL.

Buffalo and Edmonton’s coaching is fantastic and look at their rosters talent wise. We have just as good of a talent roster.

dusty said...

What can be said after the Oiler game? Got beat by a hot goalie? Bullshit! The Canadiens create hot goalies. Just wait and see if Brodeur and Miller don't get their mojo back when they face the Habs.

This team just can't score enough to win. With roughly 18.4 mil or 1/3 of available cap space wasted on Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez, the Canadiens won't be improving over the next few years.

Neither PG or BG will man up to their errors and trade all three of those guys. It will take a new GM to come in and redo this team and that could be years away.

I'm feeling more like a leaf fan every day. No hope in sight. Now I'm hoping that the Habs can knock the leafs out of the playoffs. How's that for low expectations?

For those of us who watched last nights game, we may have witnessed Canada's best hope of winning a Stanley Cup in the next 5 or so years. Although out shot 2 to 1 they were full value for the win. I don't remember one second chance opportunity for the Habs. If not for a mental lapse by Khabibulin, the Habs were shut out again.

Every time Ken Hitchcock is hired by some other team I get really depressed. I can just imagine how good the Habs could be and how we fans are deprived of his thoughtful and in depth comments. No "we did some good things... blah blah.." after each loss.