If the playoffs continue as they have been this week, Brendan Shanahan is going to be a busy man. Obviously, hockey isn’t a sport for the weak – it’s violent, it’s rough, and it takes incredible endurance. The playoffs are no exception, and with sixteen teams so very close to winning the Stanley Cup, the stakes are high.
But has this playoff season, which is less than a week in, become unnecessarily violent? When does the excuse “It’s the playoffs?” just not make sense anymore?
When we look back at the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we may very well remember that Nashville Predator Shea Weber began the aggression with a WWE-like slam of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg’s head at the end of game one in the series. Weber received only a $2,500 fine much to the dismay of many hockey fans. Surely this did not incite the craziness on the players parts that came in the days after. But did it incite suspension craziness in NHL fans? Or are things just getting a little out of hand in this years playoffs?
Saturday night saw a crazy game between the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators. Matt Carkner wasted no time in going after Blueshirt Brian Boyle, likely in retaliation for Boyle’s treatment of Erik Karlsson in game one. Carkner and Brandon Dubinsky were ejected from the game. Carkner was expected to have a hearing with NHL Player Safety on Sunday. Carl Hagelin delivered an elbow to the head of Senator Daniel Alfredsson later in the game. Alfredsson would not return. Hagelin earned himself a five minute major in the game and a three game suspension today for elbowing. What was surprising in this match up was that Ottawa were the aggressors most of the night, trying to draw the Rangers into the melee. There were ten penalties alone in the first period.
Meanwhile in Phoenix, Chicago Blackhawk’s forward Andrew Shaw clipped Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the trapezoid while pursuing the puck. While Shaw may not have intended injury or even contact with Smith, he will still face the music on Monday.
And then there was today’s brutal match up between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s usually not a surprise when things get aggressive in Philly, and it’s also true there is no love lost between these two teams. But the Penguins absolutely lost their heads during today’s game. This would be a very long blog if I listed all the incidents during this game, but just a few highlights included Sidney Crosby starting a fight with the Flyers Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell was a victim of hair pulling, and there were a whopping 38 penalties. Pittburgh’s Arron Asham was ejected from the game after a cross check to Flyers Brayden Schenn’s neck. Asham then punched Schenn in the back of the head while he was laying on the ice. Schenn was helped off the ice, but later returned to the game. Asham is expected to receive further discipline. Asham was retaliating against Schenn after the latter had a clean hit on Paul Martin.
In the third period, Penguin James Neal (who had two of Pittsburgh’s four goals), went off the rails and left his feet for a hit on Sean Couturier (who received attention from a trainer on the ice). Neal then delivered a hit to Giroux that left the Flyer reeling. When the referees tried to escort Neal to the penalty box rather than send him to the locker room, the teams began to brawl again.
Hagelin is the second player to be suspended since the playoffs started. Vancouver Canucks Byron Bitz was suspended for a hit on LA Kings Kyle Clifford. Bitz was suspended two games for boarding, after a hit that drove Clifford’s head into the glass and caused injury.
So who’s next? Are the playoffs really getting out of control or is this just business as usual?
Things are getting crazy out there Caniacs. Does this make anyone feel better about the Hurricanes not making the playoffs?
Nah, me either.
And for goodness sakes Panthers, Devils, Kings and Canucks, BEHAVE TONIGHT!