Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/13/12 at 11:30 AM ET
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
For it was apparent in dramatic fashion this season more than any time since the end of the lockout that referees, presumably operating under the NHL office’s imprimatur, became increasingly reluctant to cite obstruction infractions as the year evolved.
And as a by-product, the playing field already leveled to a great degree by the hard cap in conjunction with a growing number of coaches preaching inside-out defensive-zone packing, became as flat as the surface of the ice.
The Kings and Devils were pretty good teams that played up in the tournament, each knocking off three teams they had finished behind in the regular season, each taking out their respective conference’s first seed, with L.A. dispatching Vancouver in a routine five-game first-round series and the Devils taking care of the Rangers in six in the conference finals by winning the final three games, during which they never trailed.
This was, by the way, the first time in modern NHL history two bottom-half seeds reached the Final (Kings 8, Devils 6). But if the league adopts the four-conference format in which the opening two rounds of the playoffs will be intramural affairs, then teams lower overall in the standings will as a rule have an easier time of getting through as powerhouse conferences — e.g., the Atlantic including the Devils, Rangers, Flyers and Penguins — cannibalize their own early.
That’s another reason — if not the primary one — for the NHLPA to continue to oppose the league’s proposal.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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