Sunday, 11 October 2015

Game 2: Canadiens 4, Bruins 2

The Canadiens win an easy one in Boston, 4-2, a thoroughly predictable game in which the Bruins were outclassed and classless, as always.

Mike Boone, in his "About Last Night", writes:
Had the Canadiens’ power-play been sharper – particularly during a third period 5-on-3 – the game would have been a rout. On the other hand, garbage time in Boston is usually thuggery time, so we can be thankful the final score was deceptively respectable.
While this is not incorrect, it's unnecessarily specific.  Any time is thuggery time for the Bruins.

Trying to integrate into the Bruins, maybe fill the shoes of the deahly depahted Milan Lucic, Matt Belesky?  Charge and obstruct Tomas Plekanec, well after the puck is anywhere near him, and when you feel that you kind of didn't quite fill him in, give him a cynical backhanded elbow/forearm.  Of course "in the opening minute?", it will sendamessagesetthetone.  Yeah, that's it, like that!  Sneer and shake your head, and dispute the ref's call all the way to the box.  Never mind that the ref was right there looking right at you, and had to duck out of the way of your wayward high-stick lest he be decapitated.

David Desharnais just scored a pro forma powerplay goal against you, Joe Morrow?  Do you feel like you kind of got globetrottered?  Give him a generous forearm/facewash, two or three seconds after the red light goes on and play has obviously stopped.  Yeah, right in the head, in these times of "increased concussion awareness".  We're the Big Bad Bruins, that's the way we play.  We're not the frigging Penguins, trying to score goals and shit.

No, no, we're serious, our play-by-play guy will actually be talking about embellishment and "snapping your head back" while describing the Matt Belesky penalty that led to this goal, so the refs won't dare call another penalty now.  It's this thing we do, it's wholistic and hierarchic, horizontally and vertically integrated.  We own the Board of Governors, league operations, the refs, the newspapers, Jack Edwards and his straight man, reality, logic, common sense, ...

P.K. Subban has the puck corralled behind his own net on a powerplay, and you're trying to chase him down Brad Marchand?  But he's kind of shifty and hard to knock off the puck?  Why, just slewfoot the heck out of him, no probs dude.  We know someone, don't worry about all those warnings you got about that kind of behaviour.  Gary Bettman knows what side his bread is buttered on.

Patrice Bergeron, you kind of want to skate through that nice blue-painted patch of ice there?  Go right ahead, never mind that it's called the 'goalie crease', that's a nebulous concept we don't really subscribe to, all that distance away from Ttuukkaa Rraasskk.  And if Alexei Emelin is protecting the corner of that crease and won't let you pass, just barge right through the goalie.  Whatever you do, don't stop your forward progress because there are players or 'rules' in the way.

Zach Rinaldo, you didn't even get ten minutes of icetime in this game, but are on the ice, by dint of some impenetrable reasoning by Bruins coach Claude Julien, in the final minute of a game you're losing 4-1?  Want to justify your paycheque?  Your entire miserable existence?  Run Brian Flynn from behind into the boards, why don't you, and since you kind of had to put on the brakes a little there, with all that to-do with Raffi Torres, whack him upside the head with your stick before skating away.  Don't worry, the refs are gunshy, after calling that penalty in the first minute, they're afraid for their job now, they'll let you get away with anything not approaching lethality.

The NHL is a joke of a garbage league.  But it's not even a funny joke.  The league can't or won't see how to stop these instances of anti-hockey, of talent nullification, since it's always been that way, so it doesn't even try.  It futzes and agonizes over the hand pass.  It trumpets that coach's challenges will be available for offside calls, the most trivial of infractions, but head shots, punches to the face, crosschecks, trips, slashing, charging, spearings, those are subjective calls, they can't touch those, no sirree.

"Look buddy, there's rat turds and bugs in our food, of course there are.  What do you expect, our kitchen is infested with them, that's where they want to hang out.  If you want to eat, you better get used to it.  There have been rats and cockroaches since the dawn of humanity, there will always be rats and cockroaches, they're part of the deal.  That's never going to change.  What are you, some kind of twinkletoes can't stand a few rat turds?  It used to be much worse back in the day.  Besides, rats keep the mice away, you're better off."

Meanwhile, at the Rugby World Cup in the U.K., games with fifteen superbly conditioned and excitable mesomorphs a side are being controlled by an on-field ref, a couple of touch judges on the sidelines, and a video ref in the pressbox with a couple of propellerheads to assist him.  There's tonnes of stuff going on, but nothing gets missed.

If the ref doesn't see something, the video ref talks to him on their radio and lets him know there's an infraction they should both look at.  They talk to each other, live, so we can actually hear on TV, none of this headphones and secrecy crap, and they discuss what they see, agree on a consequence, and move on.  The only complaint heard about the system is when it takes longer than a minute or so, the play-by-play guys sniff that 'this is a minute of my life I'll never get back.'

And nothing is to be reviewed or not reviewed, nothing is verboten.  Someone trips someone, or intentionally knocks the ball forward, it gets seen, it gets caught, and there's a penalty awarded and a yellow card.  And the cardee walks off the field with no drama, no Brad Marchand soliloquies.

True story: Canadian captain Jamie Cudmore, during the game against Romania, sensing his team was gassed and discombobulated, faked an injury to take a breath and settle things down.  While this was going on, the refs talked to each other and said, "Hey, you know that thing from a minute ago?  Let's have a look at that while we have time."

Sure enough, the Canadian team had committed an infraction that got lost in the wash, but was plainly visible on camera.  Peep, the whistle blows, the Canadians get assessed a penalty.  Jamie Cudmore is hoisted by his own petard.

Compare to the lunacy we saw tonight.  P.K. Subban is telling the ref "Hey, Brad just slewfooted me!", and the ref is sternly admonishing him, no he didn't, pipe down, get ready for the faceoff.

Compare to the lunacy of the Lions-Seahawks game, when K.J. Wright intentionally batted the ball out of his endzone, but the referee in the endzone evidently didn't know the rulebook.  The situation room in New York knew the rule, the other refs knew the rule, but they couldn't discuss the play, couldn't backtrack, couldn't watch video of it.  The eminences grise in the New York control room were powerless to rectify the error, because there's this entire Code of Hammurabi around what's 'reviewable' or not, who can talk to who and when and how under what circumstances, ...

What would be so wrong about a coach saying to the ref after a whistle, "Hey, my guy got slashed back there, he was about to make a pass and create a breakaway"?  Who would it harm if a line judge could blow his whistle and stop play, and tell the ref "Number 54 black is a piece of shite, and he just delivered a huge crosscheck to a nice young fellow in white"?

I'd almost come to accept the putrid standard of officiating in the NHL, like I do muggy days in the summer: I'm still going to whine, but understand that it's inevitable, immutable.

The Rugby World Cup and its outstanding referees and systems show that it's not so.  The only reason the Broad Street Bullies and the Boston Bruins and the Senators exist and thrive is because the league want them to, despite their ramping up the denial machines as it heads to trial for endangering the life and health of its workers.

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