It’s the morning of game five in the Anaheim-Nashville series as both teams prepare to take the ice tonight at the Honda Center.
With the series tied at two games each, tonight essentially starts a best of three with Anaheim again having the home series advantage. They also get Bobby Ryan back in the lineup for tonight.
How We Got Here…
On Wednesday night, the Predators had an excellent opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series completely wasted by bad play all over the ice.
Coach Trotz explicitly called out his defensemen in the postgame press conference, but the Predators were bad up and down the lineup.
Pekka Rinne, in particular, had a very poor game. In truth, Rinne has really only had one good game- game one in Anaheim.
Nashville has had huge problems handling the Anaheim power play. Anaheim certainly has a very potent power play, but they are converting at a rate 10% better than they did in the regular season- all against a team that was supposed to be the fifth best in the league at killing penalties.
Nashville has been fortunate that their own power play is producing at about an 8% better rate than the regular season. Their recent ability to score goals have helped offset poor penalty killing and goaltending. That, however, is not their game and continuing to count on that is foolhardy for a defense-first team.
If Nashville can’t get a handle on themselves (looking at you Shane O’Brien), then their poor penalty killing will do them in, if Pekka Rinne doesn’t do that first.
To keep from coming back to Nashville and playing for their playoff lives on Easter Sunday, Rinne must turn it around. Trotz, Weber, and Suter must keep this team disciplined, calm, focused and resilient.
We’ll all see what happens tonight.
The Topic that Won’t Go Away… Supplemental Discipline
When I write a Friday Face-Offs column, I typically pull up a prior column in order to maintain my formatting and links at the bottom. Then I can just replace the various sections with the new work.
Funnily enough, I just happened to pull up the 3/25/2011 column. That’s the one where I actually lauded the efforts of League in their handling of supplemental discipline in regards to Matt Cooke (ok, I went on to raise further concerns and questions, but I started off with kudos and that counts).
I ended the praise with the following statement:
One would hope that this sets a precedent, but I doubt it.
Suspending Torres for four games at the end of the regular season/beginning of the playoffs likely made many believe that the NHL might be heading in the right direction. It might have even inspired many to believe that there will be real results from the GM meetings next season.
The NHL follows that up by suspending Bobby Ryan two games for “stomping” on Jonathon Blum’s foot. That’s fine. So far so good.
Then Raffi Torres returns from suspension, and in his first game back, lays out Brent Seabrook.
That’s an easy call right? Blindside or lateral hit? Most definitely. Was the head targeted and/or the principal point of contact? Absolutely. Repeat offender? First game back from a four game suspension seems to point to “yes”. GMs, you concur? While sounding dangerously like a toothpaste commercial, 8 out of 9 GMs agree.
Colin Campbell? Nope. The reasoning was that the rule allows for players to be decapitated as long as it’s behind the net- affectionately called “Death Valley”.
As proof of the rule allowing such idiocy, I present it here in its full glory:
48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
48.2 Minor Penalty – There is no provision for a minor penaltyfor this rule.
48.3 Major Penalty – For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).
48.4 Game Misconduct – An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.
48.6 Fines and Suspensions – Any player who incurs a total of two (2) game misconducts under this rule, in either regular League or playoff games, shall be suspended automatically for the next game his team plays. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.
If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule28).
Oh, wait a minute. I’m sorry, there’s no mention of a “Death Valley” in there. Oh that’s right. It’s not in the rule. It’s in the rule.
As provided by Bob McKenzie,
That’s my view, but when NHL general managers created Rule 48 a year ago March, they allowed the area behind the net to be a “hitting area” and players need to be more aware than, say, in the neutral zone.
In March of 2010, a DVD went to players, coaches, and general managers saying exactly that, that there was far more latitude given on hits behind the net on unsuspecting players. In other words, as one NHL GM told me tonight, a hit behind the net is viewed more like a north-south hit than an east-west neutral zone hit.
Amazingly enough, after a season full of these type of hits, no one ever trotted that out.
So, for all those folks that think that next year will be different, don’t hold your breath. The NHL needs all the TV viewers they can get and can’t afford to have you pass out.
And today, Colin Campbell decides to whine about how hard and thankless his job is. Campbell’s right about one thing, his is a thankless job. It always will be though, so whining about it does no good. Campbell needs to just keep his mouth shut and actually dispense supplementary discipline in accordance with the written rules. That’s a novel thought.
About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.