We’re back to provide our thoughts on what the initial Sabres roster will look like for the season as Derek Grant, Hudson Fasching and Casey Nelson among those impressing in the preseason. Along the way we touch on some of the seemingly inaccurate statistical models projecting the Sabres season and the stunning lack of discipline applied to Radko Gudas’ latest indiscretion. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode.
The NHL playoffs will forever be the best month and a half of television that you can find. No matter who is in the tournament, the yearly battle for the Stanley Cup is some of the most dramatic and captivating television you can find.
Even with all of the shenanigans, this year has yet to disappoint. The nightly gongshow that has become the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs has become appointment television that even the most casual of hockey fans have found interest with. The ratings from the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia ratings do all the talking.
However, things are starting to spiral out of control. From the lack of respect from the players, the lack of control from the officials to the lack of consistency from the league, some major problems have come to a head through just half of round one. Yet, I do have to ask, is this all bad for the game?
Obviously the ridiculous hits and headhunting are an ugly addition to these playoffs and need to be stopped. However, the fights and line brawls have to bring some extra spice for those casual viewers who may not be true hockey fans. Think about it, casual sports fans think hockey is all about fighting; these playoffs have provided plenty of that. There has even been some decent numbers in the goal scoring department, another category that is referenced when bemoaning television viewership.
While the offense hasn’t surpassed the magical six goals per game mark – 5.28 goals per game entering Wednesday – nearly every game has been a blast to watch. Personally, five goals in a game is really all you need. A 3-2 game is typically thrilling and features nearly two goals per period, you can’t ask for too much more. Also consider that there have been eight overtime games played of the 25 so far in these playoffs. Those OT games are basically canned drama that any fan could find interesting. Even the scoring numbers have been slightly skewed. Considering there have been three 1-0 games and two additional three-goal contests, the scoring could be much higher. Continue reading
Ville Leino was sure to be suspended for at least one game for his errant elbow on Matt Read, Wednesday. This much is true. It was a blatant head shot and Leino showed little regard for Read as he chicken winged the rookie.
Two games seemed to be an appropriate suspension for the act, NHL Czar of Discipline, Brendan Shanahan decided one was enough. His decision makes enough sense, Leino is a fairly soft player who has no history of cheap shots. So, one game works in this case.
Many in Buffalo are in an uproar over the lack of a suspension – or even a hearing – for Marc-Andre Bourdon. Bourdon put Nathan Gerbe into the boards with a hard check from behind. Gerbe’s numbers were showing the entire time, it wasn’t a case of the player turning into the check. Bourdon knew he had put a dirty check on the small winger as he was more than prepared to fight as he skated away. Yet, there was no supplemental discipline on, what appeared to be an equally egregious hit.
There isn’t any use in complaining or whining that the Sabres are getting shafted. They aren’t. Certainly there are reasons that Shanahan felt Bourdon did not need a hearing. However, it would seem that Shanahan is losing touch over the standards he attempted to set when he took over this role.
What this week’s suspensions seem to indicate (Kevin Porter was also suspended) is that Shanahan is attempting to keep the peace, but isn’t sticking to the standard he set in the preseason. Perhaps he saw the devastation that James Wisniewski’s eight-game ban brought upon the Blue Jackets, perhaps he is just softening up. Regardless, the NHL discipline system appears no more effective than when Colin Campbell was simply spinning the Wheel of Justice.
When Shanahan started Shanabanning players and came out with these shiny videos most were happy to see the change. However, the videos are beyond stale (Is there anyone who can sit Brendan down and tell him to add a little personality to these videos? He is just as bad as Joe Buck.) and there doesn’t seem to be much progress being made to truly make a statement.
One strong indicator was how he handled the Lucic/Miller and Tootoo/Miller incidents. While Lucic had a phone hearing, but no suspension, Tootoo had to sit for a pair of games. The explanation was that Lucic showed “no intent” to run into Miller, while Tootoo’s actions caused the collision. The tape is rather inconclusive, but if anyone showed more intent and had more room to move, it was Lucic. Still, it was a classic case of covering up after making a mistake to begin with.
In his defense, Shanahan hasn’t had to deal with any major incident’s like Wisniewski’s hit. Since that occurred, there have only been a handful of borderline violations. There hasn’t been anything close to Aaron Rome, Mike Richards or Matt Cooke. Perhaps another major incident will occur and he will answer the bell with an appropriate suspension.
He began the season showing that his reign would be far more rigid than Campbell’s. Yet, it has only taken two months for him to regress to the same level that Campbell operated on.