Thursday, April 23, 2015

2015 NHL Playoffs - First Round Part 2

The Capitals and Islanders have each won two games, which means each team is halfway to the second round. But they've both also lost two games, which means they're both half of the way to going home. That makes the next two (or three) games very exciting, matching the intensity level of so many of the other series in these playoffs.

Where exactly are the Caps?

It's hard to say what the Caps' situation is right now. They've won a pair of extremely close games, and lost a pair of games that weren't terribly close. There have been parts of each of these games when both teams have looked unstoppable. Sometimes the Isles seem to be inside the minds of the Capitals where they read every pass, and other times the Caps are three steps ahead of New York.

So my question is, where are the real Caps? When Washington is humming, they are able to use their size to their advantage and muscle themselves into favorable situations. And I'm not being a total homer when I say that, when Braden Holtby hasn't been sick, he's been sick. I'm hopeful that they'll be able to build upon their better play in games 2-4 and make the most of their home ice advantage (including myself, as I'll be attending game 5).

Rules? There're no rules here.

I remember watching the video of P.K. Subban slashing the hell out of Mark Stone, and thinking, "That's just completely illegal." He received a 5-minute major penalty as well as a game misconduct, sending him to the locker room. But it was pretty egregious, and I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd gotten another game suspension since it was so completely away from the play, and was clearly intentional.

Now we've got Calgary and Vancouver basically engaging in a WWF Royal Rumble (yes, WWF, the World Wrestling Federation; the WWE is an abomination). There haven't been any suspensions from their shenanigans either, despite the fact that a hundred guys could have been suspended.

Then was the worst play in the whole playoffs, when Dustin Byfuglien mashed Corey Perry right after Perry scored. That's a star player attacking another star player after the play was over, from behind. Utterly unacceptable. But the punishment? A two-minute minor for roughing.

Get the fuck out of here.

I'm a longtime advocate of attempts to reduce the number of fights in hockey. I've written about it before so I'll try not to repeat myself, but basically I don't like stopping a game to let people beat each other up because reasons. But the whole "value" of fighting that people keep saying is that fighting is a method of on-ice policing, to create repercussions for rough play.

You know, like when a guy slashes someone completely away from the play and breaks his hand. Or attacks your most prolific scorer after he scores. These are exactly the situations that demand justice, in one form or another. And the NHL had an opportunity here to lay down the law and prove that fighting isn't necessary to protect its star players and prevent aggressive, intentionally dangerous play. And they completely shit their pants and ran away.

I don't know how you don't suspend Byfuglien. It was a goon play, a dangerous play, and completely not what you want out of your premier event. I will never again presume to know what the NHL wants (though I will absolutely continue to declare what the NHL should want).

See you Thursday night, boys. Hope nobody gets killed.

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