My growing and comically unscientific theory is that change, in the NHL, is fueled by complaints.
If people aren’t barking at Gary Bettman & Co. constantly about this or that, then things do not get done.
Now, I don’t mean Internet complaining, aside from the most mobilized and consistent beefing. Instead, I mean that “walk by your cubicle and give you the yeaaaaaaaah/hello Peter, what’s happening?” type of interaction.
Simply put, penalty calls that get made are far more likely to get that swing-by-the-cubicle complaint than the myriad “Let them play” moments that go un-called. (Seriously, how did plays like this and this go without a whistle?)
NHL execs probably hear more griping about ticky-tacky penalties and goalie interference/etc. calls. Just look at how swiftly the league handled Sean Avery taunting Martin Brodeur, the DREADED shootout spin-o-rama and other marginal moments while scoring festers, obstruction goes ignored to almost hilarious extents, a wide variety of troublesome hits are met with a shoulder shrug and other big problems just sort of grow like mold.
Honestly, there have been moments during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final that almost made me wonder if the league has made some sort of “Let them play” (aka let them cheat/obstruct like the 95 Devils/etc.) edict.
I mean, it’s almost summer, and these execs have some golfing to do and tans to accumulate. Gotta keep everything in perspective.
(For the record, I don't think there's a "fix" or anything, just general - maybe mandated incompetence. Perhaps the Penguins may lose out in the deal A BIT since the team that controls the puck draws more penalties in most cases, but nothing seems nefarious. No conspiracy here.)
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SHARKS 4, PENGUINS 2 (Pittsburgh leads series 3-2)
From a cubicle disruption standpoint, I don’t think it will ruffle THAT many feathers, but it shouldn’t be dismissed. With the way the Pens’ PP has been heating up (a PPG in two straight games, solid 1-for-3 with plenty of chances in Game 5), who knows if that could have made a difference?
The Penguins were down 2-0 early in the first period before that PPG helped them turn the game into a thriller, after all.
-- Getting on that officiating soap box distracted from the biggest story of this game, so I apologize to Martin Jones. He was fantastic. Honestly, even though I generally think he’s a solid goalie (I’ve pegged him as more of a platoon netminder than a no-doubt starter, though I did pump up his value quite a bit heading into 2015-16), I didn’t know for sure that he could absolutely swing a game.
Jones stopped a ridiculous 44 out of 46 SOG in this game, the third time during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final in which he’s made at least 38 saves. He’s faced 30+ SOG in all but one game against the Penguins.
That is already a considerable workload, and then you might note that the Sharks didn’t allow 30 SOG in the Kings or Blues series (Nashville did it 4 of 7 times, the latest example of the Predators being peskier than they’ve been given credit for). Maybe Jones lucked out before, but he’s proven himself in a huge way in this series.
So much for James Reimer being their best option (though I think he’s one of the few upcoming UFAs who can make a big difference for a possible team if the circumstances are even reasonable).
-- Evgeni Malkin enjoyed one of his best games of the postseason, even if he had a -2 rating. He scored that big PPG and fired six SOG. He also made Brent Burns look silly at least once and generally looked like the scary star he can be when everything's clicking.
-- Patric Hornqvist didn't generate a point and had a -2 rating, but he was everywhere. The former "Mr. Irrelevant" fired seven SOG and delivered six hits with one blocked shot. I picture him basically wearing a suit of ice after every game.
-- Sidney Crosby didn't generate points, but only lazy pundits will really hammer on him, as he set up both Hornqvist and Conor Sheary for at least one huge chance apiece. Don't be surprised if he has a monster game as the Penguins make another attempt at the Stanley Cup, especially since this series affords relatively big breaks between games.
-- Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, Ben Lovejoy and Ian Cole. Basically Letang and a mix of ham-and-eggers with jabronies. How this team isn't merely surviving possession-wise but instead is hogging the puck against San Jose just about every game is truly staggering.
I kind of feel like Mike Sullivan's strategy should be "Don't change anything except maybe ask for improved versions of these defensemen when possible."
-- Yes, Phil Kessel deserves to be the Conn Smythe frontrunner.
-- I find it hard to picture the Penguins being better off with Marc-Andre Fleury instead of Matt Murray in net. Still, that doesn't mean that Murray is infallible. This was a bad game for him, at least during a first period where the Penguins only PARTIALLY dominated the action.