Round Two, Fight!

The NHL isn’t giving it’s teams much time to rest between playoff rounds.

Last night we watched the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers both advance after their game seven victories, The Devils needing a second overtime to knock off the Panthers.

Tonight we will watch the Phoenix Coyotes host the Nashville Predators in the opening match of the second round. Neither team has ever been to a conference final.

Tomorrow the Rangers are back at it, taking on the Washington Capitals and St Louis hosts Los Angeles, two of the remaining four teams in the west, none of which has ever won a Stanley Cup.

So, without further ado, here are my picks for the second round of the playoffs:

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One out of three ain’t good

Two out of three is better.

In the last two days we’ve seen three potential elimination games. Only one of those games resulted in an elimination with the Phoenix Coyotes, for once, building on a third period lead instead of squandering it. They take that series against the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, also known as exactly what I predicted.

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The harder they fall: two playoff giants ousted

As the picture above shows, the first round of the playoffs is drawing closer to a conclusion. Four of the eight series are complete and the two games tonight could add to that total.

Yesterday saw the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated. Both teams were expected to make lengthy runs and in both cases there are a lot more questions than answers at the moment. Continue reading

Opinion: Torres suspension changes nothing.

The NHL has come under a lot of fire for not being tough enough on the post season violence which seems to be spiraling out of control. This suspension to Raffi Torres could be seen as a response from the NHL to it’s critics that it is putting it’s foot down. That would be wrong, however.

The NHL is not making a statement here to anyone other than Torres himself. He has been suspended five times in as many years, all for hits involving the head of his opponent. This suspension is for Raffi Torres being Raffi Torres and for simply not getting the message yet that you can’t hit guys in the head anymore.

The hit that Torres laid on Marian Hossa, ten years ago, would have been deemed a good clean hockey hit. Poor Hossa, shoulda kept his head up. Scott Stevens is often referenced as a player who received much acclamation for delivering this type of hit. Those days are simply past.

Having said all that, I feel that 25 games is too much. While this was not in any way a legal hit, it is very close to one that is. If Torres stays on his feet, hits Hossa .3 seconds sooner and three inches lower, this is a great hockey hit. And that is the main problem the NHL has right now. A good hit and a dirty hit are separated by a very fine line. Torres’ main fault is repeatedly just crossing the line. Ten games would have sent the message that predatory hits are unacceptable and been sufficient to factor in Torres as a repeat offender. 25 games adds in an attempt to prove that the league is taking hockey violence seriously at a time when sponsors are growing concerned. Essentially, through his own actions, Raffi Torres has become the scapegoat. For now.

The problem I have with this suspension is not that I don’t think Torres deserves it (he does, mostly), but that it provides zero deterrent for other players who play close to the same line. Any player viewing the leagues response immediately knows that the severity of the suspension has nothing to do with the hit, a little to do with the resulting injury and almost everything to do with Torres. 25 games for being Raffi. It’s such a long suspension that only Raffi Torres could receive it, which in effect nullifies its value as anything other than a reactionary punishment.

If the league were really serious about preventing head injuries and escalating levels of violence; if they wanted to send a message to all the players that they are watching and willing to act, they would have suspended Shea Weber for his head smashing of Henrik Zetterberg. Even one game to Weber would have been far more of a message to the players than what Torres got.

On the Sked tonight: Five squared (get it? Five game fives? Nevermind.)

Sorry everyone, I’ve had some computer problems over the last few days and I wasn’t able to make any blog posts. The problem has been solved (thanks, Jeremy), and we are back under way.

There are five games on the schedule tonight. Three of them will split a tied series and the other two are possible eliminations. All-in-all it will be a very pivotal night in the NHL.

Boston vs Washington
Game 5: 3:00 EST

This game has already started at the time of this writing. The story of the series so far has been the play of Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He’s only allowed seven goals in four games and has Washington right in this thing. Boston needs more out of their top six. Patrice BergeronDavid KrejciBrad MarchandMilan Lucic and Tyler Seguin have combined for a total of one assist (Bergeron) in the four games thus far.

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Nightly Review: Stretcher, suspension, suspension, suspension…

Just as Brendan Shanahan was checking off his laundry list of supplemental discipline, Raffi Torres pulled a, well, he pulled a Raffi Torres. At 11:51 of the first period, Torres left his feet and delivered a shoulder-to-head check against Marian Hossa that knocked Hossa unconscious and required a stretcher to take him off the ice. He was transported to hospital. No word on his condition except that he has since left the hospital.

If TSN’s Bob McKenzie knows what he’s talking about, and he does, we can all expect a very lengthy suspension from the department of player safety. (TSN)

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