Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Backhander – Wild Night In Kanata Has Everyone Arguing

Let’s not call it a gong-show, but Monday night’s Sens-Bruins game was a pretty wild affair and a lot of issues came up that had people arguing into the morning. Here’s a stab at 3 of the big ones:

On Daugavins shootout attempt: Loved it. I’ve been a fan of the shootout since it was introduced in 2005 (in fact, I’d love to see it extended to 5 shooters per side) and every so often you get a memorable moment like this. It was a ridiculous save by Tuukka Rask, one of the best of the year. That puck was stopped by a skate blade on the goal line. It doesn’t get closer than that. You kind of feel for Daugavins because he knew if this crazy move didn’t work he’d be hearing about it from everyone. I’m sure the Bruins had something nice to say on his way back down the ice and Daugavins even said he felt “like a fool” in the room afterwards. He shouldn’t. He came as close as anyone to winning that hockey game and if anything, it just adds to his strange charms as a hockey player. He’s got the bark after the goals, and now he’s got this on his permanent record. Coach Maclean was laughing about it afterwards, so don’t expect any repercussions. Maclean’s answer when asked what he was thinking during the attempt – “buckle up” – was probably the funniest thing he’s said all year. And he followed it up with “but he’s Latvian, so I never know what’s going on.” The fact that Daugavins felt comfortable enough to try a move like that probably says more about the coaching staff and the great atmosphere they’ve created around this hockey club than it does about Daugavins. Half the guys in the league would love to try something like that during a shootout but their coaches would be waiting at the bench to choke them if they did. Not Maclean. Something tells me he was very happy to get that single point against the best team in the Eastern Conference. Those single points in OT losses have been vital for Ottawa this year as they struggle to keep bodies in the lineup. Take away those 5 OT points and Ottawa is tied with Winnipeg for 9th in the East.

On Neil – Kelly collision: People calling this an intentional knee by Neil don’t know what they’re talking about. This wasn’t a case of Kelly trying to avoid a hit and Neil sticking out his knee to catch him – which is what a kneeing penalty is in the first place. The two collided and Kelly’s knee buckled. It could have just as easily have been Neil lying there in pain if he wasn’t more braced for the hit than Kelly was. To hear some Senators fans vilifying their own player was pretty sickening. No one felt worse about it than Neil and you could see that on his face. It’s a tough game and people get hurt all the time. Doesn’t mean there was anything dirty about it.

On the Visor Instigator Rule: There’s a big uproar about this seemingly obscure rule because Ottawa’s been dinged twice in a row, first with Chris Phillips and now last night with Patrick Wiercioch. In both cases, the players did the right thing stepping in and fighting for a teammate. That’s what tight teams do. The fact that they didn’t stop to think that they were wearing a visor just means they acted on instinct and didn’t hesitate – another positive sign. In both cases, the Senators killed the extra two-minutes so no harm done. As for the rule itself, it does seem unfair but you have to remember that it was put in place because visors are certainly dangerous in a fight, especially if one gets cracked or if it cuts someone’s hand open. The tradition was that fighters would remove their helmets anyways because nobody wanted a broken hand, and it was a respectful thing to do in the situation. That respect level has gone by the wayside and a lot of fighters are more concerned with getting the first shot in rather than making sure it’s a fair scrap. To be honest, I don’t really know the solution to the visor rule, but something’s got to give if the league wants everyone to wear protection out there. Fewer enforcers in the league means that more non-fighters find themselves in spontaneous scraps, and a lot of those guys are wearing visors (smartly). We’re going to see more and more of this if guys like Phillips and Wiercioch have to be the ones to fight the battles. People love that enforcers are going extinct, thinking that fighting is following them out. On the contrary, it just means that other guys are doing the fighting even though they really shouldn’t be.

And finally... could you have picked two guys who needed a goal more badly than Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Turris? Latendresse’s goal celebration was something out of primal scream therapy. That was a lot of frustration, anger and tension being exploded into the glass after that beauty deke in the first period.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the Daugavins move. It worked, in that the puck had a legit shot at going in. Rask made a great save. Kudos to both of them.

The best part was that TSN had a video on their website where Sens players and coach Maclean were interviewed, and they all had Daug's back. No one threw him under the bus.

I think the fact that he had the stones to try the move speaks to the positive atmosphere that Maclean has created. And, the fact that even after he didn't score, that the players had his back, just reinforces the idea that Maclean has done a great job of creating the right workplace environment around the team.

By contrast, imagine how Torts would have reacted. I'm guessing that it starts with, "That was stupid! What was he thinking? ...." And, after that, no Ranger would dare defend the player publicly.

The biggest reason that we have a Norris trophy winner on our roster is that the players are allowed to play and use their natural instincts. Full credit to Maclean.

If I'm Washington, I'm targeting Maclean (or the guy who looks like him) . Ovechkin seems to have lost his instincts and needs help rediscovering them.