NHL December 2013

It is a bit into the month and there has been no thread so far. However, after some of the shit that happened today, it is about time.

First, Zac Rinaldo jumps Antione Roussel four seconds into his first shift of the game and gets a fat 27 PIMs for his trouble.

Later in the day we see a horrific cheap shot as James Neal knees Brad Marchand in the head and it sure looks intentional. Then Shawn Thornton does a double down on the stupid and slew foots Brooks Orpik and punches him while down, in front of the refs while the play is stopped.

Neal and Thornton should both get hefty suspensions for their ugly acts. Rinaldo should get a short suspension for his stupidity.

Neal should get 5 games and Thornton should get 10 for what happened tonight. The NHL doesn’t need what either of them did. Orpik should get an extra 5 after he gets healthy just for generally being Brooks Orpik; then NHL doesn’t really need anything that he does, even if his hit tonight was just a run of the mill shitty hit. Shame that the events of the first 10 minutes overshadowed a really good game over the last 50.

Ummm what did Orpik do wrong, now or ever? He’s a big hitter, and he’s had his questionable moments before – Derek Stepan, Erik Cole – but he’s not generally seen as a dirty player. The Eriksson hit was as clean as they come (shoulder to chest as Loui was playing the puck) and it’s the second time he’s been blown up by having his head down this season. I’m a complete Pen’s homer, but I’m being serious. Neal (obviously), Letang, and Malkin are all a million times dirtier.

Everything with tonight’s game is why hockey is such a niche sport, and it’s sad/frustrating. This started at B’s last game, where Boychuk got annihilated by Patches, and the Boston media raked them over the coals for not standing up more for their teammate. So they came into this game out for blood, and the Orpik hit – although completely clean and legal – was a good enough rallying cry. But Orpik refused to “fight” (why would he? when should a first pairing defenseman fight a fourth line plug over a clean hit?) and so Thornton used the next excuse (Neal’s dumbass dirty knee) to betruzzi Orpik. And not only did he slew foot him to the ground, and punched his head into the ice, he kneed him in the head while he was getting up. Because… why? If he was truly about sticking up for your teammates (Marchand, in this case) why not fight Neal, instead of beelining to Orpik and jumping him?

And on top of that, the B’s announcers – and plenty of B’s fans – blamed the whole thing on Orpik, because if he fought when Thornton asked him to, none of it would have happened. You know, Thornton wouldn’t have to resort to such measures.

Absolutely disgusting.

And the Neal hit was similar, but I haven’t seen it brought up. Neal had Marchand’s number after last playoffs for this hit – which doesn’t make this hit or that hit better or worse, they’re both inexcusable. I hate the idea of retaliation, when it happens to my team or when my team does it. Neal has turned into an elite forward, there’s absolutely no reason dirtiness should still be part of his game. Orpik (ironically) is someone on the team I’d like for him to emulate. Plays with an edge, and has been known to destroy people, but all with (generally) legal plays. If you want to retaliate for a dirty hit by Marchand, why not blow him up with a legal hit? F’ning with a guys head, in any form, is unacceptable.

Finally, this is the last time these teams play in the regular season. This is the type of game that can spark a legendary playoff series – like '96 Avs/Red Wings level.

Seriously. Brooks is known for being a hard hitter, but not for dirty hits, and he rarely drops the gloves. Thornton was completely out of line. (I don’t recall Matt Cooke, as bad as he was, hitting a guy AFTER he was down. I don’t think I ever saw Ulf Samuelsson do it either, and he’s probably the dirtiest player in Penguins history.)

Oh, get this, the prick is claiming he didn’t mean to do it!

(I’d hate to see then what happens when he does attack someone intentionally!)

Well, to be fair, I only see the Pens when they are playing the Bruins, and a couple times more each year on the Wednesday national games - it’s certainly possible that a disproportionate amount of his dick moves are against the B’s. The hit on Eriksson last night was a foot higher than “shoulder to chest” and should have been a penalty for sure. I definitely wouldn’t blame the whole thing on him, though; Neal and then especially Thornton escalated to much higher levels of stupid.

After waking up today and seeing it again in the highlights, I’d be fine with Thornton getting 20. More than anything, Zebra, I agree with you on this line:

I woke up this morning and SportsCenter led with half an hour of third-rate football highlights, and then the B’s/Pens got a short mention. Because of the idiocy and injuries, and not because of the high intensity hockey with the dramatic finish.

Thornton is an immensely valuable player to the Bruins because he can fulfill the needs of the hockey fighting culture while still being a not-terrible hockey player. I’d really prefer a world where we could just fill the roster with better hockey players, though. Especially in a year where we have the Olympics coming up and hockey’s profile is going to get a nice temporary bump in the US, this kind of stuff just holds the sport back.

Oh, I won’t defend what Neal did, either.

This is related, but only slightly – isn’t it time for bigger ice? Maybe because I primarily watch the Pens, but so many games now just feel boring. Teams more or less play the same, it’s all dump and chase, and there’s not as much individual creativity anymore. And this doubles in the playoffs, when obstruction runs rampant. Scoring this year is almost the lowest it’s been in something like 50 years. Plus with everyone being so skilled now, even the meathead “enforcer” types, all the physicality is amplified. International ice might be too big, at 200x100, but maybe halfway between that and the NHL’s 200x85 – say, 90, or 92, or whatever. Obviously I’m a little biased, as this would greatly benefit the Pens (and tremendously hurt the Bruins, our biggest Eastern playoff rivals), but I’d also love to see teams like Colorado and Tampa Bay on bigger ice.

It’s similar to what the NFL has gone through over the past 20 or so years. People got tired of all the cheap, physical, grind-them-out play and the NFL found ways to use the playbook to insulate star players and open up the game a bit. And now traditionalists hate the “pussification” but the NFL is more popular than ever, and every season there are now crazy all-time offensive records on the verge of being broken – Adrian Peterson last year, Manning/Megatron this year, etc.

I just found this funny quiz. Is it a Swedish hockey player or an Ikea item?

I only got 50%.

This is a quote from former Canucks coach Alain Vigneau on Marchand:

“Marchand — and this is just my feeling — but some day he’s going to get it. Some day, someone’s going to say ‘enough is enough’ and they’re going to hurt the kid because he plays to hurt players. And if the league doesn’t care, somebody else will.”

That was an ugly game, I think the refs let it get away from them and it spiraled to a bad place.

Not to me. I couldn’t give a shit if the NHL ever garners an additional single fan. Why would I? And if a game like this keeps fans away, simply because there were a couple of incidents, then it’s likely I wouldn’t want those kinds of fans anyway.

Disagree. I find it to be mostly entertaining. I’m not disgusted in the least by what happened in that game, although Neal literally trying to take Marchand’s head off was as close as I’ve come. That’s on a par with Bertuzzi on Moore, or McSorley on Brashear.

I really don’t get why people pooh-pooh so vehemently when these kinds of things happen. Isn’t this part of what makes rivalries? And isn’t rivalry a good thing? It’s not like this stuff is happening every other game. It’s a rarity.

I also find it amusing that the same anti-fighting media who are so vocally against fighting in hockey are the same ones who are grinding out these rivalry storylines and asking questions about retribution and getting even in the days/hours leading up to the rematch of the teams that have had games such as this one.

The reason I (otherwise I hockey fan) pooh-pooh this is that it simply embarrassing to watch, I mean like Blair Witch Project embarrassing to watch; it’s dumb, boring and embarrassing and I’m sure most adult people think so.

I don’t find it entertaining. There will be none of this shit in the Olympics, and it will be wonderfully entertaining to watch: especially on the larger ice.

That wasn’t fighting Taking someone out from behind and then hitting them when they’re down – that’s just being a coward.

I like a good hockey fight as much as anyone, but that was just blatant thuggery.

Yup; as much as I likely fights in hockey when I was 12, even then it didn’t make total sense. Now I’d just rather watch as many of the fastest and most skilled players doing their thing as possible.

Zebra: I actually wouldn’t mind a slightly bigger surface, even as a B’s fan. Actually, I don’t think it would hurt them as much this year as it would have in the past couple: with Eriksson non-concussed and the other young players involved, it’s a more skilled team than it has been. For all that physicality is still an emphasis, this year’s team is a lot more comfortable playing fast and skilled: Bergeron, Marchand, Lucic, Krejci, etc can skate, pass, and shoot as well as they can hit, and it’s coming together much better with the new additions. Supporting evidence: power plays this year do not make me want to turn the TV off in disgust (and statistically they’re average or above average in power play % and similar categories, which is an improvement from the recent past). It would be a relative loss of advantage compared to PIT, but I think the B’s would still be in that top tier in the East, and I frankly enjoy watching that style of hockey more.

I’ll admit that I cheer the hockey fights. But, I would not miss them if they were gone. Not an essential part of my game watching experience. I would much prefer to see skilled passing and shooting, a great save, a skillfully executed poke-check, etc to a fight.

Tuesday night, in the first 12 minutes, Mike Green was assessed 18 PIM! Without fighting! The Caps were down 3-0 before they managed a shot on goal. Luckily they have Backstrom and were able to pull out a win.

Flames Fire Feaster. Got to love it when the headline writes itself. Or maybe Feaster famine…

Not even going to click before I guess. Burke to take over?


Heh! Well that will increase the amount of press the Flames get from the national media. Always good for a soundbite, but what’s he done lately?

I seldom come to this forum and even more rarely post here. But, your comment (above) caught my eye.

I was a HUGE hockey fan in the 1970’s. Sittler and McDonald for the Leafs. Lafluer et ses amis pour les Canadiens. Salming showing how a skater with grace and proficiency could turn the opposition inside out. Hockey really was getting more and more exciting. Especially after the 1972 Summit Series when it seemed that the Soviets had conclusively demonstrated that play making actually works, I anticipated that NHL hockey was only going to better. More open. Faster. Exciting. “Dump and chase” would vanish. Hell, no less than Ken Dryden proclaimed it so in ‘The Game’.

Guess what. It never happened. Dump and chase remained the paradigm (as did sitting on leads by chucking the puck over and over and over again across centre ice). I got bored and stopped following it (well, Harold Ballard also had a lot to do with my lack of interest).

All of this is just a long-winded way of saying that there is nothing new under the Sun (except, maybe, this year’s manager).