Friday, May 2, 2008

Hope for the future

Everybody wants to emulate a winner. Last year the Anaheim Ducks brutalized their way to the top. This year, some teams tried to do the same, most notably the Philadelphia Flyers. But some early (and very necessary) intervention by Colin Campbell seemed to have righted that ship, at least for the regular season.

Now its the playoffs, and the "sticky" play has returned (as noted ad nauseum in the last post). Occasionally though, there are breakthroughs, where the refs start calling the penalties as they should be. This was notably absent for much of the Bruins-Habs series, but the Habs managed to pull through.

For the Flyers series, the officiating has been better, but there has still been a lot of hooking and holding going on. Not egregious enough to pull down a player, but enough to eliminate space for the much more talented Habs.

Probably the best example is the supposed dominance of Biron. While he has played better than either Halak or Price (for the most part), he hasn't been unbeatable. He has always been prone to giving up juicy rebounds, and this series is no different. The difference is that the Habs can get to them. So much hooking, holding and general interference is happening in front of the net that they can't break free.

But Habs GM is still optimistic about the future. Most of the skilled teams have done well, esp the Red Wings and Penguins. The Sharks and Habs would also fall into that category, but are behind the 8-ball right now. Still, as pointed out over at Sisu Hockey, it might just all be bad luck. In almost every other statistical category, the Habs have outplayed the Flyers.

So while a 25th Stanley Cup championship would be the ultimate this year, a Red Wings-Penguins final would be a decent second best. Then instead of emulating the Ducks, maybe other teams will start playing catch up with the skill teams, and the NHL on-ice product would be that much more satisfying.

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