Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Some observations on a Tuesday night...

- How long (in seconds) will it take the Thrashers to clear out everyone down to the equipment guy after looking for all the world like a kennel of whipped puppies in their series against the Rangers, once the Blueshirts put them out of their misery.

- Speaking of Atlanta, Marian Hossa's picture is on milk cartons all over the Atlanta area.

- The Peerless is looking for a reason in the numbers why Ottawa has a three-games-to-one lead after tonight’s win in Pittsburgh. The only thing he can figure out . . . Ottawa’s just better.

- Minnesota has the ugliest uniforms in the history of man . . . looks like they’re channeling the 1987 New Jersey Devils. They look like they were designed by Helen Keller on crack.

- Speaking of Minnesota, Derek Boogaard is a very large man. Men that large should not be able to stand on skates. I swear, he has his own gravitational field.

- Hey, it ain’t Marty’s fault (Turco or Brodeur).

- If anyone thought Jay Pandolfo, Sergei Brylin, Brian Gionta, and John Madden would be a combined -12 for the Devils, raise your hand.

- Ladies and gentlemen, your leading scorer for the Buffalo Sabres (so far)...Dainius Zubrus

- San Jose/Nashville is still the best series of the first round.

- Willie Mitchell will not get a holiday greeting from Mike Ribiero.

- Buffalo will move on to the second round, but they’ll pay to get there.

- Joe Beninati is really, really good on play-by-play. The Peerless could listen to him do every game.

- Uh, when Pittsburgh is eliminated, how on earth will the NHL and their U.S. television partners at NBC and Versus market the games? Come watch Daniel Briere spear somebody? Watch Chris Chelios grow liver spots? Pick out the Niedermayer? The Sedin?

- Is that wall of red in the stands in Calgary impressive, or what? If you don't think so, go watch "Dancing with the Stars."

In defense of the early morning...

Thanks to frasnap on The Official, The Peerless had a chance to read this essay from The Sporting News’ Kara Yorio . . . here is the money quote:

“If the shootout is a good enough way to decide how teams get into the playoffs, then it should be a good enough way to decide who wins the games once they're there -- after teams have been given a long enough chance to finish things off with that ‘real hockey.’

“Asking these players to play beyond two overtimes is unfair, unhealthy, mentally and physically exhausting and detrimental to the quality of hockey that comes in later games.”

To be charitable, The Peerless disagrees. If he wasn’t charitable, he might say something like this . . .


Unfair to whom? The fan? I'm guessing no, since OT games are often the stuff of legend that endures in hockey conversations. The players? Well, no -- on two counts. First, it is not unfair to the opponents within the series, since each has to endure the overtime. And for anyone who wants to argue that it puts an advancing club at a disadvantage for the next round, then how do you explain away the advantage a club gets by closing out a series early? If we are to "even the ice," so to speak, should we not require the club that sweeps a series to keep playing, so as to maintain an even level of effort expended?

Unhealthy? These are some of the most well-conditioned athletes on the planet (I'd argue hockey requires more conditioning, and a wider range of athletic skill, than just about any other team sport). And, how many players have suffered season-ending or career threatening injuries as a result of a long overtime session? Take your time; we’ll wait while you Google that question.

Detrimental to the quality of hockey that comes in later games? We'll stipulate that if this was to occur in a game 7, the winning club might face a disadvantage in the first game of the ensuing series -- a product of the previous game's effort and focus. But that is: a) one game (where is the effect demonstrated in later games?), and b) it's a part of the obstacle course. It is this odyssey in an effort to win 16 games – including the odd 100-plus-minute game – that makes hockey, “hockey.”

The argument -- "Protect the players. Value the hockey. End the endurance test (as she puts it) -- is just so much nonsense on its face....but The Peerless is arguing against a tsunami. Within five years, we’ll wager, there will be a shootout following one full 20-minute overtime period in all but games 7 of series. And it will have nothing whatsoever to do with "protecting the players."

At that point, I'll rather watch poker.