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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finally, RM is here for today...

Apologies for the delay.  Real life got in the way today, happens about once a month.  So a relatively quick one here, while I wish you all a great long weekend.

Something tells me that Arcade Fire singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" at Wrigley Stadium this Saturday during the 7th inning stretch isn't going to go over all that well.

I would just like to confirm, for the record, that I am not Steve Buffery at the Toronto Sun, but he might well be an RM reader.

Why the hockey playoffs suck
By ,Toronto Sun

TORONTO - Sitting in my hell hole of a rec room on Monday night, watching the Boston Bruins lumber past the Montreal Canadiens, I thought to myself: If I’m forced to witness one more intercepted pass or one more blocked shot, I’m going to scream.

Two seconds later, I screamed. And that, unfortunately, drew the ire of a certain teenager upstairs, who ordered me to “pipe down.”

According to Bubba, fathers should be seen, not heard — and seen only during the weekly “handing out of the allowance” ceremony.

Even then, I’m not supposed to speak. I’m like one of them Buckingham Palace guards — stay alert, but don’t talk.

Anyway, here’s the deal with playoff hockey: I don’t consider guys diving in front of shots exciting.

It’s brave. The guys are tough, no question, taking one for the team and all that, hip hip, Bob’s your uncle, etc., etc. But is it exciting? No.

But that’s playoff hockey.  It’s all about passion. Which is good, to an extent. In the playoffs, unfortunately, they seem to pipe up the intensity and dull down the skill. Just like a federal election.

Listen, I absolutely love the intensity of playoff hockey.

I love good, clean hits.

I love the atmosphere in and around the arenas during playoff hockey, particularly how Rangers fans last night serenaded Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

I love all them analysts and experts and the guys who stand at those bright, shiny desks who “hear things” from sources. It’s great.

I even don’t mind the those filthy playoff beards.

It’s the actual hockey I’m not really digging. By and large — and I emphasis that — it’s been less than great.

Yes, there have been some exciting games. My colleague, Steve Simmons — who’s a big fan of the rock garden at the Thornhill Golf & Country Club — actually emailed me last night to suggest that it was a bad night to write that playoff hockey was boring. He pointed out that most of last night’s games were good. And, indeed, they were. But one night does not a playoff round make. Overall, in the first week of action, the post-season, in my opinion, has been lacking.

It’s not just that there aren’t a lot of goals some nights, though last night the floodgates opened somewhat.

It’s just that the teams are over-coached and, unfortunately, teams seem to be over-coached on defence, not offence. I can only guess that it’s easier and safer to coach defence than offence.

Everybody is always in position now, at least defensively. Nobody seems to be open. There’s no room to create skilled plays. Odd man rushes seem to occur only when there’s a bad line change, which happens all the time because the coaches are anal when it comes to matching up lines and timing shifts.

I won’t more creativity. I want more flow. I want some wide open action.

Look at the Boston Bruins roster. Wouldn’t you expect more than the dull way they plod up and down the ice?

I want bigger ice, dammit (but that’s a rant for another day).

What you get now (and, yes, there are exceptions) is tons of intercepted passes (yawn) because there are no open guys. You get neutral zones being clogged up. You get eight guys standing in front of the goaltender looking for, and trying to prevent, garbage goals — which are the norm in playoff hockey. Too many guys score goals in the playoffs look like they’re digging onions.

And this is what you get after games. You get TV, newspaper and radio guys interviewing the always illuminating Colin Campbell, instead rehashing great plays and wonderful rushes. They might not want to interview Colie, but they have to. Colin Campbell is the guy to talk to after the NHL releases its daily ‘suspension roll call.’

And after that, you get 25 TV analysts discussing whether a hit deserves a one-, two- or three-game suspension.

Who #$%^&*@ cares?

As our associate sports editor Jon McCarthy, who lost his H back in the blizzard of ’94, points out, there is no Sidney Crosby in these playoffs, no Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos has but one assist.

But, hey, but at least there’s Phoenix Coyotes relocation talk. That’s always really exciting.

That'll be it til Monday, enjoy the long weekend, and more than a few sports options.

1 comment:

gbvh said...

My only quibble with the column is that the word "playoff" isn't necessary here:

"garbage goals — which are the norm in playoff hockey."