I need a break from my tedious job, so I thought I might share some random thoughts on the 2006 hockey playoffs so far.
1. Bad habit #1 - two on ones. It has long been my opinion that NHL defencement are not necessarily the best defencemen out there. See, I figure a defenceman in junior hockey (draft-eligible) gets noticed more often for his offensive skills, than his defensive reliability. Ergo, NHL defencemen are good with the puck, but not necessarily good in front of their own net. This has become glaringly obvious in recent times under the new NHL rules. Less clutching has meant more odd man rush opportunities. I've noticed that, especially on two-on-ones, defencemen seem to have no idea what to do (Even Don Cherry commented on this last night: "What, have they all gone stupid?" he asked). If you see a two-on-one rush, watch the defenceman. His job is to prevent the pass. This allows the goalie to focus on the shooter instead of worrying about getting across the net in time for the one-timer. I've noticed a lot of goals have been scored on two-on-ones recently where the defenceman committed to the shooter, leaving the other man open. Watch for it.
2. Bad habit #2 - hitting from behind. This has been on the rise in the playoffs, it seems. Don't know what it is, but guys are getting nailed from behind (no, not in that Oz way, Tristan) on a regular basis. There were several examples again last night.
3. Scoring. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I love the fact that two teams came back from three goal deficits last night. You would never have seen this two years ago. Wide open hockey has meant no team is out of it; especially when the refs aren't afraid of calling penalties. Heck, Colorado scored short-handed with a couple of minutes left to tie the game with Dallas last night. Again, you would have never seen that two years ago.
4. Go Habs. (Anyone else hoping for a Colorado-Montreal final?)
5. Even though they're Canadian and not facing the Leafs, I won't shed any tears if Ottawa tanks it again this year. There's something about watching this team fall apart in the playoffs...reminds me that it's spring. That, and I hate Hasek.
6. Is it my imagination or do Ron MacLean and Don Cherry seem a little "off" when the Leafs aren't the topic of discussion?
7. Anyone read Dave Feschuk's article in the Star this morning? What a douche. He basically went off on how Torotonians love the Leafs and not hockey - because the Ricoh Centre was only a third full for the Marlies playoff game last night. First, Torontonians love hockey - we just don't wanna shell out for second-rate hockey. Second, I'd rather stay home and watch the plethora of games available on television than trek out to the Exhibition to see NHL cast-offs and kids square off for a worthless championship ("best of the rest"?). STFU, Dave.
8. Go Habs!