Cheap Shots is content that will offer a Puck Theory perspective on current NHL goings-on. It is our way to bring content to our readers without having them wait for our more robust offerings. The playoffs offer up a lot of headlines and coverage, and our goal will be to focus the topics into digestible snippets. We hope it will foster discussion, and lay the ground work for potential articles moving forward.
Some thoughts on the NHL Playoffs … So far
1. You hear a lot about the referees putting their whistles away, and letting the teams play, but is there any evidence to that? There has been 62 games played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and league is averaging 8.6 PIM per game. Looking back on the 2016-2017 regular season, you find that the league average is 9.2 PIM per game. The sample size is too small to draw many conclusions, but it will be something interesting to keep track of this as teams battle on.
2. Bruce Cassidy, the coach of the Boston Bruins, ripped into the refs for a “… terrible call,” after his team gave up a power play goal in overtime to Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan.
3. The call made against Riley Nash was the right one, but that may not be what matters. Riley Nash was retaliating for Bobby Ryan’s errant use of an elbow during a check along the boards. It went uncalled, and Ottawa got the advantage for Nash’s retaliation. What is likely more frustrating to Boston fans is that Ottawa’s Marc Methot had gotten away with retaliatory punches earlier in the game.
4. I don’t agree with referees putting away their whistle during an NHL game, and I think the standard should be the same as the regular season. Whatever your thoughts are, I am confident we all agree that consistency is what matters most. With that said, I do not believe that you can find consistency if you are picking and choosing what to call, as opposed to doing your best to calling the game by the book. By attempting to avoid having an impact on the outcome of a game, their best intentions ultimately backfire.
5. The St. Louis Blues are one win away from dumping the Minnesota Wild, but it sure doesn’t feel like they should be up 3-1. We may have predicted a series win, but this hardly feels right. Minnesota has been dominate for much of the series, but the story has been Jake Allen. Allen is rocking a .966 save percentage, and a staggering 1.17 GAA.
6. Minnesota leads the NHL playoffs with a CF% of 61.2 over 4 games. St. Louis is at the bottom with 38.8. I’m not sure what else Minnesota can do outside of hoping Jake Allen comes back down to earth. Minnesota won the last game, but it is hard to imagine them stringing together three more wins.
7. The story of the playoffs has to be the Toronto Maple Leafs. What is going on in Washington must have everyone from the owner Ted Leonsis down to its fanbase freaking out. Last night Washington pulled the series to a 2-2 tie, but this has all the makings of a defining moment for the Ovechkin era Capitals. Washington will have a lot of big decisions to make this off season, but I don’t believe they want to get started on that just yet.
8. As is often the case, it may be goaltending that settles the Leafs and Capitals series. Braden Holtby (.907 Sv%, 3.07 GAA), and Frederik Andersen (.905 Sv%, 3.05 GAA) have left a lot to be desired. With goalies who have at least three games played in the post-season, they rank 13th and 14th respectively in GAA, and Sv%. The team that sorts out their goaltending first will be the team that takes this series.
9. Wherever your team is now, it isn’t very hard to find things to love about the first round. The regular season can sometimes feel like a slog, but the reward so far has been excellent. Please leave us with your thoughts, and let us know what has most interested. There is plenty of hockey left to be played, and we look forward to providing you more content.