Friday, February 19, 2010

Shutout the Shootout

Get rid of the shootout. There it is, I'm just going to put it out there and say it. The NHL shootout flat out sucks. It's fun during the skills competition, but it's no way to end an NHL hockey game. Teams battle for 60 minutes of regulation and the game is ended by a one-on-one? One shooter, one goalie? The culmination of all the checking, power plays, penalty kills, fights, great saves, great shots, near misses, and odd man rushes ends with two players? There's so much that goes into a hockey game and to end it that way is no way to do it. You don't see an ending like this in any other major sport. Baseball doesn't end with a one-on-one, just the pitcher and the hitter, one pitch, try to get a hit. No. Basketball doesn't end with a game of one-on-one. No. Football doesn't end with a one-on-one, one halfback, one linebacker, tackle the guy with the ball before he scores. No. So why does hockey do it? It's gimmick to try to get fans, and it diminishes the game.

A game should end with one 20 minute overtime, 4-on-4. Overtime playoff hockey is the most exciting thing in all of professional sports. A goal could happen at any moment. Why not bring a piece of that into the regular season? If the game is still tied after the 20 minutes, the game ends in a tie, each team gets one point. "A game can't end in a tie! It's not right! There has to be a winner and a loser!" No, there doesn't. Hockey lasted for decades with the tie and people freak out at the mentioning of a tie when I bring it up. Each team fought as hard as it possibly could and the teams were matched up so evenly that no team was better. That's exciting hockey.

I know a lot of people think that losing the shootout may lose the NHL fans, well then so be it. If you only like the NHL for the shootout, you don't like the NHL at all. 4-on-4 overtime is as fast paced and exciting as it gets and if you can't appreciate the skill in a 4-on-4 overtime, there's something wrong with you.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Consistently Inconsistent

The 2009/2010 Flyers season has been the epitome of a roller coaster thus far. Just look at these stats.
Starting at the beginning of the season...

10/2-10/6--> 3-0-0
10/8-10/16--> 0-2-1
12/23-1/12--> 9-1-1
1/14-1/28--> 3-4-0
1/30-2/1--> 2-0-0
2/3-2/6--> 0-2-0

The Flyers are undoubtedly the streakiest team in the NHL. You never know what you're going to get on any particular night. They may score 7 goals in one game against an elite goaltender, then score 1 goal in two games against two rookie goalies (one playing for the worst team in hockey). They need to start playing (particularly scoring) with some consistently if they want to make the playoffs, let alone advance in them.

Maybe a trade is the thing to solve this problem. Bringing in new and fresh players sometimes changes the way a team competes on a nightly basis. But there isn't a lot of cap room for Paul Holmgren to make a trade though (the lack of cap room is partially his fault by the way). The Flyers are taking a 1.5 mil. cap hit on a player who isn't even in the organization (Randy Jones). Simon Gagne is getting payed 5.25 mil. this season and has only scored 6 goals (Bobby Clarke contract).

The trade of OKT and a 5th for Ville Lieno does little to nothing to help improve this team. It remains to be seen if Holmgren can/will make a significant trade before the March 3rd deadline. All the Flyers can do until then is survive the back-to-backs with the Devils and the Canadiens and hope they can win with more consistency after the Olympic break.

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