BRIGHTON, Mass – Count Brad Marchand among those NHL players that don’t like how closely officials are calling face-off violations so far this preseason.
The NHL is cracking down on run-of-the-mill slashing penalties to the arms and hands and calling an excessive number of penalties for forwards “cheating” in the face-off circle prior to the drop of the puck.
This essentially means the opposing centers taking the face-off can’t be standing or have their sticks on the painted hash marks and instead must stand perfectly still while waiting for the puck to drop. Two consecutive violations of Section 10 of the rulebook will result in a two-minute delay of game: face-off violation penalty. It was called on numerous occasions for the first eight NHL preseason games played on Monday night.
Needless to say, Marchand was watching some games on Monday night while not playing in the first two preseason games for the Bruins and he called the stricter interpretation of the rulebook “an absolute joke.”
“The slashing [penalties] is one thing, but this face-off rule is an absolute joke. That’s how you ruin the game of hockey by putting that in there. They’re going to have to do something about that because we can’t play all year like that,” said Marchand. “Basically you have to be a statue. You can’t move. It takes away from the center iceman. I think there was even a play [in the game I was watching] last night where a penalty was called on a 4-on-4 before play on the first penalty had even started because of a draw.
“That’s just a joke. I don’t know how you expect guys to step back, guys are excited to get in there and help out there centerman. I know they’re trying to add a little more offense to the game [with power plays] and make it more exciting, but you don’t want to ruin the game. It’s frustrating for everyone. There are ways to make the game better, but this isn’t one of them. We might as well start throwing D-men in there to take draws.”
Marchand did acknowledge that sometimes on-ice officials put an extra emphasis on making a slew of calls in preseason to let players get used to any new enforcement of rules like for face-offs and slashing calls. Perhaps that’s what is going on here. That may be the case in the face-off circle, but it sounds like Marchand is going to be one unhappy camper if the more stringent face-off rules interpretation creeps into the regular season.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the reviews from the Last Jedi start pouring in.
-- USA Today takes an early look at the expected 2018 NHL free-agent class, which will be pretty good with players like John Carlson, James van Riemsdyk and John Tavares leading the way. But take a look at 2019: Tyler Seguin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty. That’s the class that NHL teams should be saving their rainy day funds for.
-- Erik Karlsson isn't concerned that he was asked to provide a no-trade list to Ottawa Senators management, but it sure sounds like the Sens are considering some major decisions right now as they struggle following last spring’s playoff run.
-- PHT writer Adam Gretz has the details of Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella basically blowing off the media after an ugly loss on Tuesday night.
-- Does Auston Matthews have a concussion right now? That is the million-dollar question in Toronto.
-- Johnny Gaudreau threw out a shootout move against the Minnesota Wild that was so nasty Bruce Boudreau was questioning if it was legal.
-- The Calgary Flames are growing in confidence and building momentum as they forge ahead in the Western Conference.
-- For something completely different: As the review pour in, here is a spoiler-free Last Jedi review from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb after he was able to get into a sneak preview earlier this week.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while trying to figure out when exactly I’m going to be able to go see the new Star Wars movie.
*The New York Islanders were crying in their beer over the fact that Brad Marchand side-stepped a suspension and claimed it was because John Tavares didn’t writhe around, kick and scream on the ice like a soccer player. The truth is the play wasn’t the kind of thing that’s going to injure a player under normal circumstances but was clearly a late, uncalled for hit. That’s why it got the five-minute major penalty and nothing more. Threatening to give an award-winning acting performance next time in order to try and get a suspension for an opposing player just sounds like crybaby soup from the Isles. Buckle the chin strap and get ready to play a contact sport next time, particularly if you’re Tavares, who was hacking at Charlie McAvoy’s legs with your stick like you’re Paul Bunyan chopping at a piece of wood. It works both ways, you know?
*The Winnipeg Jets continue to be one of the excellent, unsung stories of the NHL’s first half as they really take hold at the top of the Western Conference.
*Here’s a good piece on Jonathan Quick and what his good health has meant to a resurgent Los Angeles Kings team this season.
*Former Boston College standout goalie Thatcher Demko is way ahead of schedule in the Vancouver Canucks organization, but they’re not looking to rush him.
*Here’s a great video of a youngster playing the Star-Spangled Banner on the violin prior to a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Well done, young lady!
*Pro Hockey Talk as the details of the Ducks and Red Wings getting into a fight on Monday night ahead of the Bruins traveling to Hockeytown for a Wednesday night showdown.
*For something completely different: A list of the 10 actors who could replace Ben Affleck as Batman now that DC has given up the charade that they’re not intending to replace him underneath the cowl.