Wednesday, 4 November 2015

NHL, unlike Word Cup Rugby, favours defence over offence.

Barry Trotz bringing up one of these simple traps the NHL tumbles into and can't find its way out of in this Puck Daddy article.

The solution to this is so simple.  The team that is on the attack should set the agenda.  If they want to confer and deliberate and strategize before the puck is dropped, the linesman should wait for them until they get their plan in order.

If however after an icing they're raring to go and lined up for the faceoff, and it's the defending team that's arguing about position and wheeling around and stalling while they try to catch their breath, drop the puck.

Let the offensive team have a clear possession.  An unopposed faceoff.  That'll learn the other guys.

If the defending team pushes it, does it too obviously or too often, or stall in such a way so that they're coincidentally all clogging a shooting lane, make it a delay of game penalty.

In rugby, if a penalty is called and play is blown dead, it's the penalized team's responsibility to get back 10 metres, and be ready for the team with the ball to attack.  They don't get to loaf and stall and drag their butts the required distance.  The attacking team can tap the ball and run it forward immediately, and if a defender isn't ten metres back yet, he's offside and can't participate in the play, he can't tackle the ball carrier.

The NHL is such a dumb league, it can't think its way out of a paper bag.  Last night, I saw a player try to chip the puck past P.K. and skirt around him to retrieve it, and P.K. did what all defencemen do now, he held up his stick and set up a huge area around him where the player couldn't skate through, he was more a pass-blocking offensive lineman than defenceman.

Sure, good for us in the microcosm, we got possession and went the other way, but the league bemoans the lack of scoring, and is trying to make more garbage scrummy goals in front of the net to count.  Because more goals is better.  Never mind the quality of the goals, or of the show during the interminable minutes that preceded it, and the never-tedious faceoff before that.

Again in rugby, the equalizer for a quick, agile player about to be creamed by a lumbering huge player is to do a little kick to place the ball behind him, a grubber along the turf let's say, and then dart around him and try to regain possession of the ball.  And he's allowed to do so unfettered.  The defending player can't extend his arms or block his way or give a couple of tugs on his jersey or a semi-accidental trip as he goes by, in the name of defence.  That'll be an immediate penalty, taken for what it is, a beaten player resorting to cheating.

In the NHL, after a half-hearted show of cutting down on this kind of interference a couple of seasons ago, it's crept all the way back now.  Teams trap, stack up five abreast on their blue line to prevent someone from entering the zone, but when you try to chip and chase, they'll hook and slash you and block your path.  Pick your crowd-stultifying poison.

And the Canadiens suffer from it, despite their adoption of these tactics, since they'd be crazy not to do so, benefit from the same leeway the refs allow.  But a team predicated on speed and the fast break like they are, if they could deposit the puck in the corner and race after it without being interfered with, if they could truly challenge the Mark Stuarts or Roman Pollaks of the league with their speed, they'd be even more dominant.  And the game would become more exciting.

But I guess we can't do that, because we don't do that.  It's the 'too-many whistles' and the numerous penalties that are killing the game.  Not Nick Kypreos.  Not Zach Rinaldo.  It's all those powerplays with Pavel Datsyuk with the puck on his stick and all that open space, that smells like a gimmick to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment