Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Second Round Thus Far; All Finesse, All Boring

The local radio sports show, The Junkies, talked some hockey this morning. This is worth mentioning because the foursome rarely talks NHL happenings. But not this morning. Yes, they brought up the Rangers/Sabres series, specifically the abysmal ratings that they have received thus far. Of particular note, they mentioned that NASCAR, what some might call a southern sport, beat the Rangers/Sabres playoff game in New York. Pretty bad eh?

Not one to disagree with their assessment of the NHL’s poor television ratings, I’ve maintained that the second round of the playoffs have been boring and emotionless for many reasons (see a few entries down for these reasons). To sum it up, teams have understandably blocked out everything other than winning; rivalries are put on the back burner; players turn the other cheek when there are dirty hits. When you add it all up, you get boring hockey. It all falls in line with my assertion that fans absolutely crave rivalries, and yes fights, in the game. Without rivalries, and everything that comes with rivalries, hockey isn’t exciting enough to capture the casual viewer.

So to back up my statement about the boredom that is the second round, I decided to take a peak at the penalties called in each series. To me, finesse penalties (e.g. holding, hooking, tripping, etc.) translate to boring hockey. Physical penalties (e.g. roughing, high sticking, kneeing, etc.) translate to elements that could possibly lead to a brewing rivalry; the start of which most often involves a fight of some sort. Of course, that hasn’t occurred in the second round… not one.

The officiating in the Rangers/Sabres series has been highly criticized throughout, capped off by a Lindy Riff tirade and subsequent fine from the league. Interestingly enough, the Rangers have actually been whistled for six more penalties than the Sabres thus far in the series (26-20). 70% of the Sabres and 73% of the Rangers penalties have been finesse calls, leading to a rather tranquil series thus far.

The Devils/Senators series has been an absolute snooze fest. A mere 34 penalties have been called, 16 for the Devils and 18 for the Sens. 88% of the Devils and 72% of the Sens penalties have been finesse calls. When you add it up, you are left with hockey that could make Andy Stitzer sleep like a baby on his wedding night.

The Red Wings/Sharks series is almost a carbon copy. 34 penalties have been called, 18 against the Wings and 16 against the Sharks. The Wings and the Devils could be red headed siblings in different divisions; 83% of the Wings penalties have been finesse calls. 69% of the Sharks calls have been finesse. Someone would have to pin my eyes open to watch this series.

On to the Ducks (God bless the Ducks)/Canucks series. 61 penalties have been called in this series, 28 against the Ducks and 33 against the Canucks. This is surprising to me actually as I would think the Ducks would have a bull’s-eye on their back because of the bad boy persona they carry. And while the Ducks are true to that persona, with a mere 54% of their penalties being finesse, the Canucks are the sleeping pill for this late afternoon nap, with 76% of their penalties being finesse.

So sorry folks. But there is little chance that we will see any signs of a brewing rivalry in the second round. There hasn’t been in one single major penalty, let alone a fight thus far. And with the teams zeroing in on the prize, you can forget seeing any physical hockey until next season… that is unless the Sharks/Ducks advance and a fire is lit in the Western Conference finals.

1 comment:

FAUXRUMORS 2 said...

1) Lets hope for a Sens-Sabres Conference Finals and hope that Peters/McGratten suit up!