So the NHL has finally decided to shut the coaches up about complaining about the new rules so I guess it is up to us hockey bloggers to pick up the slack. The talk of the day today was about Sidney Crosby and the fact that he drew six penalties last night on his own. I just watched the guys on TSN talk up Cosby and his knack for drawing penalties. Well, I watched a fair bit of that Penguins-Panthers game and I saw all the highlights and I must say what most people are forgetting to mention is that half of those penalies were not in fact penalties and I will go so far as saying that it looks like Crosby got in the diving act like so many other NHLers these days. On one of the penalties called he was skating down the middle of the ice and about halfway between the blue line and the Panthers goal, two Florida defensemen close in on him and pinch him off (looked like a smart defensive play) at which point Crosby made his body go limp and he fell to the ice in a heap. He was not hooked or even hit very hard, but because he went a penalty was called. Crosby was not hooked or tripped and since he had the puck he was not interfered with. You are still allowed to hit players with the puck. At least that is what I thought. It should not have been a penalty and honestly, I think Crosby embelished his fall on that play. On another penalty Crosby was cutting in from the right side towards the net like Glenn Anderson was so famous for. He was heavily leaning into the defenseman who was in good position to cut his drive to the net off and the second the defenseman bumped him, Crosby falls and a penalty is called. Again, there was no hook or hold and Crosby had the puck and hitting the puck carrier is allowed. And it wasn’t a hard hit either and the fact that Crosby was heavily leaning into the defenseman probably caused him to lose balance very easily. One or two of the other penalties he drew were pretty suspect too.
But it isn’t just Crosby. People are ‘losing balance’ on the lightest of hits and almost any time a player goes down to the ice the refs seem to feel the need to call a penalty, whether a penalty was deserved or not. I was just watching the Boston-Carolina game and Bret Hedican and a Bruin went into the corner to retrieve a puck. The Bruin player lost his balance like players so often do when skating hard into the corner and trying to stop, turn and play the puck in all one motion. Hedican was right with him but didn’t interfere at all but since the Bruin lost his balance and went down, the refs automatically thought penalty. So Hedican goes off for 2 minuted for tripping. To make matters worse when the Bruin player was falling his stick came up and he high sticked Hedican drawing blood for what should have been a 4 minute penalty on the Bruins.
In the Carolina-Ottawa game the other day Jason Spezza bumped into a Carolina player at the offensive blue line and upon contact Spezza let his body go limp and fell to the ice. Penalty gets called. This diving and chintzy penalty calling is getting rediculous. The newest skill in hockey is whenever you get bumped to relax every muscle in your body and fall to the ice in a heap. The refs are certain to call a penalty then because it seems the new directive to the refs is that they must call a penalty everytime someone falls to the ice. It is getting rediculous. This game is becoming a joke. There is becoming less contact in hockey than there is in basketball. There are fewer hits in most hockey games than the Houston Astros could muster in last nights 14 inning game (that’s 8 if your counting). Sure, there may be more goals. Sure, certain aspects of the game may be faster. But surely, there has to be a better way to do it. Creating more offense through more power plays on horrible penalty calls is not how to do it. It’s a joke.