Which of these numbers stands out from the rest?
I even made it easy for you. I put it last. Yes, the number 22 is substantially higher than any of the other numbers listed above. Those numbers above are the total number of power plays in games played on Thursday and Friday and the 22 represents the number of power plays in the Ottawa-Vancouver game. In what was one of the most anticipated games of this NHL season we saw the referees ruin the flow of the game by calling way too many penalties. It was a disgrace and what could have been an amazingly entertaining game turned out to be good, but nothing spectacular.
One could argue that all of the penalties call were legit and I would tend to agree, if you use the strictest rulebook around. But was it necessary to call so many penalties when half of them had no significant impact on the play (220 pound guys should be able to shake off a love tap on the hip). I could possibly accept it if every game was called that strict, but none are. No other game in the past week featured more than 18 power plays. Was this game that much worse than every other game this past week? Certainly not. The last time there were 20+ power plays in the game was a November 26th Dallas-Nashville game with 21 power plays. Congrats referees, you managed to ruin what could have been one of the best games of the season.
As for the game itself, the better, more energetic and enthused team won so at least the penalties didn’t ruin that. But what is with Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley? They were absent from the score sheet once again. In Ottawa’s last 5 games Alfredsson and Spezza have both been held pointless in 3 of them and Heatley in 2 of them. In games against Florida and Vancouver Spezza has had 0 points, 0 shots on goal and is a -2. Heatley has 1 assist, 2 shots on goal and is also a -2. Ottawa has been held to 27 or fewer shots just 5 times this year, 4 of those in their last 5 games. The lack of production from Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley has been the main reasonf or that. Have teams figured out how to play them? I think so. Vancouver just didn’t give them any open space to roam or make plays within 20 feet from the goal and. The Spezza cross ice pass to Heatley for a one-timer slapshot, usually into an open net, that was so deadly for most of the first 20 games of the season has been pretty much taken away in recent games. We’ll have to see if they can make the adjustment and start shooting from further out rather than try to make the fancy play in close all the time. If they do it should draw the defenders out and once again open up space close in to make the fancy plays. If they don’t, well, they will likely continue to struggle.