Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quick Hits (From Behind)

Quick Hits (From Behind) is a semi-regular feature on Pass it To Bulis, wherein two hockey fans chip in their thoughts on current hockey news and get assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
While it's certainly not as bad as planning a Stanley Cup parade route after a first round victory, these kinds of proclamations are usually saved for league champions or record-setting regular seasons. While it's always nice for the city to show support for the home team, they rightly deserve the mocking they will receive.
Let's start with the obvious: I love Alexandre Burrows. You, if you're a Canucks fan, love Alexandre Burrows. But he may as well have been Alexandre Bolduc in that last playoff series (you knew there was a reason I spelled out "Alexandre"). It's long been acknowledged that players need to find an extra gear in the playoffs to perform well. That's why Joe Thornton does not succeed: he coasts in the playoffs like it was the regular season. The problem, however, is that Burrows operates at playoff-level at all times, which is why he's managed to battle his way from the ECHL to the best line in the NHL. It seems like Burrows just doesn't have that extra playoff gear because he's already gunning it throughout the regular season. Fortunately, Burrows has a wide range of ways that he can impact a game, ways that don't appear on the scoresheet.
This is one of the big reasons why I love hockey. In general, hockey players are some of the most charitable people in the world of sports. It's why Trevor Linden wasn't just a great hockey player but a legend in Vancouver and why I was impressed and touched, but not surprised, by the Sedins recent donation of $1.5 million to BC Children's Hospital. This year, the finalists are Dustin Brown, Mike Green, and Ryan Miller. These kinds of things can even make me like a diving, conniving punk like Dustin Brown. At least for a little while.
Finally, with an appropriate topic for the inaugural Quick Hits (From Behind), an article on the absence of Checking From Behind calls this season and the rise of Boarding calls. It's an interesting article, well worth the read. The issue is that every single Boarding call seems to be a hit from behind as well, which makes it difficult to know where to draw the line. It's also interesting to note that the Checking From Behind penalty is an automatic 5-minute major and a game misconduct, meaning hits like Hossa's on Hamhuis, which was called boarding, could have resulted in a game misconduct for Hossa, meaning he's not on the ice to score the gamewinner in overtime. Instead, he was assessed a 5-minute major for boarding with no game misconduct.

It's likely that no game misconduct (and no suspension) was assessed because Hamhuis wasn't injured on the play, yet another absurdity of the current NHL's system of punishment. The question is, should more Checking From Behind penalties be called or is the NHL's emphasis on Boarding penalties enough to dissuade these kinds of hits? Feel free to chip in your comments on the issue.

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