Sunday, 13 February 2011

Old-Time Hockey, Bar The Door...

Clear the track, its all-out war

Those are the first lines in the Dropkick Murphys' song Time To Go. The song celebrates the experience of going to a Boston Bruins game, as well as the toughness of old-school hockey. Dropkick loves a good party and I'm willing to bet they love a good hockey fight as well. Well, they must have really enjoyed the past week watching hockey as two games, Montreal at Boston on Wednesday and Pittsburgh at Long Island on Friday really were wars that featured a combined 26 goals and 528 PIM. That sounds like two entertaining games and don't get me wrong, the Bruins-Habs game was, but the Isles-Pens game was just an atrocity that Mario Lemieux called a "sideshow."

Like all Original-6 match-ups, game between the Bruins and Habs are always entertaining to watch. They have met 32 times in the playoffs, more than any other two teams in professional sports, with Montreal winning 18 consecutive series between 1946 and 1987. the game in Wednesday featured plenty of emotion that showed just how much of a rivalry this is. This game featured 14 goals, including seven goals in a 6:19 span in the second period. The excitement didn't stop there; this was a fight-filled affair with Tim Thomas and Carey Price continuing the recent trend of goalie scraps with their "fight" at 12:36 of the second period. Seriously, where is Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy, or Ron Hextall when you need them?

Don't get me wrong, I love a good goalie fight, but they are ultimately pointless. They are almost 200 feet away from each other and don't have anything to do with one another, what could they possibly have to fight over? With the Thomas-Price, umm, tickle fight, I think they just felt left out and wanted to join in the fun. As they skated towards each other and even as they were grabbing on to each other, they really didn't want to fight each other. There was only one punch thrown, by Carey Price, and it didn't even hit its target before both went slipping onto the ice. I think giving the two of them fighting majors was generous.

It really was a big game, going into it Montreal was two points behind Boston for the Northeast Division lead and both teams went at it with all the heart and determination they could muster up. With the exception of the goalies (I don't know what the hell happened to them that game, two of the best this season just decided to take a nap I guess) everyone came to play hockey. It was exciting to watch and close the whole game an teams traded goals more than the Sunny gang trade drunken insults.

Hmm...playing hockey. It would have been nice if the Islanders were interested in that at all during their game against the Penguins. All they wanted was revenge. For what? An injury to Rick DiPietro (are they even surprised anymore?) that really was his own stupid fault. Can anybody tell me what he was thinking? He's made of glass, what does he expect to happen when he gets punched in the face?

It was cheap-shots galore during the 9-3 Islanders victory that saw Matt Martin take down Max Talbot from behind, Brooks Orpik hit Michael Gragner from behind into Brent Johnson almost knocking his own goalie out in the process, Trevor Gillies hit Eric Tangradi with an elbow then try to fight the injured player a la Jesse Boulerice, Micheal Haley drop Max Talbot then fly down the ice to take on Brent Johnson (how the refs let that happen I can't figure out), Eric Godard jump off the bench to intercept Haley (for no reason since Johnson was waiting for Haley, its not like he was attacked from behind. Godard also nearly landed a shot on Johnson), Gillies once again trying to get Tangradi to fight after Gillies has been tossed and with Tangradi still injured on the ice, some jackass yelling over Brent Johnson's shoulder at 9:45 of the video (that has nothing to do with anything, he just looks like a moron), Brett Sterling run Kyle Okposo from behind once again right into Johnson, Zenon Konopka punch Talbot when he was already down on the ice.

By the end of the game, not counting goalies, there were nine Islanders and six for the Penguins left who hadn't been ejected. And screw the announcers, the Penguins were just as dirty as the Islanders in this game. They  may not have started it, but they were matching the Islanders blind-side punch for blind-side punch. By my count (though I'm sure I missed some) there were five cheap shots for the Islanders, three for the Penguins. The final result of this "game" was three suspensions and $100,000 worth of fines. Somehow, the Penguins escaped any fines, surprising especially after Islanders GM Garth Snow pointed out no one from the Islanders left the bench to fight (they were fined for not controlling their players. Hey Colin Campbell, explain the Godard situation then). I love fighting, I really do, but this game was just bullshit. It wasn't old-time hockey, it was a bunch of muggings. They were already winning by a large margin (which would not have happened if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were healthy, so enjoy the win, you're still one of the worst teams in the league and have been for years), I don't know what they were trying to accomplish.

This game only strengthens my belief that players such as Eric Godard, Zenon Konopka, and Trevor Gillies (seriously dude, that mustache makes you look like a pedophile) should not be in the game. They, along with Jody Shelley, Derek Boogaard, Colton Orr and others have no skill whatsoever, they just make a mockery of this great game. At least Steve Downey, Steve Ott, Brandon Prust, Scott Hartnell, hell, even Sean Avery are capable of playing a shift or two of actual hockey when they need to. Something has to be done. Hopefully stiff fines and suspensions will deter teams from employing players of that caliber. But since the discipline system is just as messed up as that Isles-Pens game, I doubt that will happen anytime soon.

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