I’ve heard people complain about “boring hockey” for two days short of forever, but not more often than this season. The Blues were accused of playing “boring trap-style hockey.” Too much defense! Not enough running and gunning! Score more! While the latter would have been nice, especially during round two, most Blues fans didn’t notice trap. We noticed the fact that we’re getting a new Central Division Champion banner on opening night.
There has been some complaining about how “boring” the playoffs are to watch. Too much shot blocking, not enough break-away excitement for the viewers. That argument strikes me as odd, considering this year’s ratings for the playoffs have been extremely solid. Do viewers really equate goals scored with excitement? Is that what matters, or is it the pace of the game, the hits, the strategy, and your team winning? Is that latter part not the point of the playoffs?
I respect Hayley Wickenheiser very much, but she and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. She finds the shot blocking dull like many viewers did on Twitter last night. I just don’t know. I found the pace of the Devils/Rangers game to be very up-tempo. The Devils can be known for some dull trapping, and I didn’t see that at all. I saw two teams being very defensively responsible, yes, but doing so while keeping the game flowing.
Teams are going to do whatever they need to do to win, and right now we have the two teams in the Eastern Conference who are the best at defensive shot blocking in the Eastern Conference Finals. Is this a coincidence? More than likely not. But since teams are getting good at this and succeeding, why, let’s change the rules of the game to give it more flow!
The last time this was done to eliminate chutch-n-grab hockey, it made sense. Removing the red line and getting rid of the two line pass helped the game out so much. But that’s not necessarily blocking coaches from using strategy. Changing the rules to make shot blocking and protecting the goal harder is. Making the defensive zone smaller so players might have less room and less time to block shots? Why take that weapon away from coaches who want to win? Isn’t the goal here to win the Stanley Cup, not just to be entertaining?
Let’s face it: the most entertaining series so far was probably the Flyers/Penguins matchup. That one was the highest scoring one, and the games had the fastest pace. Ask fans of those two teams how entertained they are right now.