Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Is Obstruction Back In Play?

from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Welcome to the new NHL, which is beginning to resemble the old NHL.

Scoring is down, and obstruction again is becoming a common element of play. Referees, many Penguins said, are allowing the clutching and grabbing that became ingrained in the game a decade ago to resurface.

The Penguins are particularly unsettled by this because special teams have marked a significant part of their success this season. Lately, special teams play has been rare.

“I don’t necessarily think the play has gotten cleaner,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “(But) there are few power-play opportunities out there for every team.”

The Penguins averaged more than four power-play opportunities per game through the end of December. Since Jan. 1, they are averaging 2.76 power-play chances.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Oh yes it is.  If you want to know how the Blues have been so successful this year, then this is your answer.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/10/12 at 12:28 PM ET

Russian Rocket's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/10/12 at 10:28 AM ET

Bingo. I feel like this is some sort of unofficial league mandate to the officials to see if this helps to slow the head injury epidemic the league is facing.

Posted by Russian Rocket on 02/10/12 at 12:31 PM ET

Avatar

“Officials have not been instructed to loosen or change the standard on obstruction fouls,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “and we don’t believe they have.”

Said Terry Gregson, senior vice president of officiating: “There has been no change in standard in any area of enforcement.”

Well then the refs have taken it upon themselves to call every game like a Finals game - it’s so obvious how the way the games have been called has changed even since the start of this season.

I like the “letting them battle it out” style reffing, but it’s a problem when a team or teams decide to take advantage of that leniency, and that happens often.

Posted by NathanBC on 02/10/12 at 01:36 PM ET

Avatar

I feel like this is some sort of unofficial league mandate to the officials to see if this helps to slow the head injury epidemic the league is facing.”
Posted by Russian Rocket on 02/10/12 at 10:31 AM ET

Absolutely.

Posted by NathanBC on 02/10/12 at 01:38 PM ET

Avatar

Totally agree. The clutching and grabbing has been sneaking back into the game for years. I HATE it and I wonder why nobody intervenes.

Hockey has been so great to watch in the years after the lockout, but the “new” NHL is pretty close to the “old” NHL again.

Posted by Joe on 02/10/12 at 01:38 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Hell yes.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 02/10/12 at 01:41 PM ET

Matt Fry's avatar

I’d say it is.  There are things not called now that would have easily been called even two years after the lockout.  Now they just let them go.  This happens in every game I watch for every team.  Penalties aren’t called like they used to be.

Posted by Matt Fry from Winnipeg on 02/10/12 at 01:41 PM ET

Avatar

It’s incredibly obvious that they’re letting more hooks and holds and bumps go. I don’t want to see more power plays (from a viewing standpoint), but they need to call this stuff. We all know they won’t start calling games tighter come April, so do it now.

Posted by Dave on 02/10/12 at 02:30 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

No doubt about it. J.J. hits the nail on the head. The Blues play like a vintage team from 1996. The name of the game is to avoid losing and avoid surrendering goals, not to attempt to win or attempt to score goals. And to be fair, the Blues are just the prime example in the league currently—most other teams are taking similar approaches and taking advantage of the relaxation in the officiating.

To prevent the haters from hating right off the top, let me say that this extends to the Wings—they absolutely have taken advantage of the fact that obstruction is being allowed by more officials. I don’t recall a regular season since the late ‘90s where a Wings team has so often stood opposing forwards up at the blueline after a dump in, or the forecheckers have finished their checks after a breakout pass was gone.

Just another reason the shootout gimmick was stupid. If you really don’t want teams playing to avoid losing instead of playing to proactively score goals and win, then eliminating ties isn’t the solution. The solution is lowering the stakes. Which isn’t going to happen for obvious reasons. The more money that creeps into a sport, the higher the stakes are. And the higher the stakes are, the more reason management, coaching, and players have to mitigate as much risk as possible. There is more financial windfall for most teams to simply make the playoffs than there is for them to go all-in and push for the Cup, especially given the fickle nature of NHL playoffs where an 8 seed can easily win a couple rounds.

Look at the Sabres this season—new ownership, a real desire to be a top-tier club. So they threw out the slow and steady playbook and tried to splash in free agency and make a big leap to the top of the pack in short order. It obviously backfired. They still have quite a collection of talented hockey players, but all the changes and injuries derailed things early.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 02/10/12 at 03:36 PM ET

Avatar

“Bingo. I feel like this is some sort of unofficial league mandate to the officials to see if this helps to slow the head injury epidemic the league is facing. “

Same here. I’m also sort of curious if it works, even if I don’t like it. If you can interfere with the second forechecker, maybe the puck retrieval D get hit at 5mph or not at all, instead of at 20mph every single dump.

Of course, I also watched Brooks Orpik pin some poor slob against the boards for about 11 seconds the other day to break up a cycle, which worked but doesn’t have a damn thing to do with preventing high-impact collision.


“let me say that this extends to the Wings”

Even if it was the case that Detroit got away with more interference in years past, and I’m not saying either way, it certainly isn’t the case now. Everybody is doing it and getting away with it. Seems stupid to pick out one team, when there’s a good 12 teams more that have caught on, including but not limited to St Louis, Washington, Detroit, LA and the entire Atlantic Division minus the Isles.

Posted by larry from pitt on 02/10/12 at 04:33 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If you can interfere with the second forechecker, maybe the puck retrieval D get hit at 5mph or not at all, instead of at 20mph every single dump.

Or maybe you can force the refs to call charging the right way without turning the game into a horrible neutral zone battle where creativity is stifled by moving pylons.

Seems stupid to pick out one team, when there’s a good 12 teams more that have caught on

Maybe because one of these teams is not like the others, stupid.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/10/12 at 04:57 PM ET

Avatar

A 2nd forechecker doesn’t need to commit a charging infraction to crush a defenseman collecting a dump at 20 mph. He should already be gliding that fast, or close to it, on a breakout before realizing a hit is there on, idk, left D, unless the other team picks, hooks or otherwise slows his progress between the center line and the icing line. He shouldn’t even need to take a single stride after he decides to make a hit to get a defenseman double-checking his health insurance, unless he’s interfered with.

Saying the referees should forced to call charging on guys gliding into each other at dangerous speeds they were already moving as a normal byproduct of being on a breakout seems like an unrealistic and, frankly, strange solution.

I mean, what do you want these guys to do, skatestop at the circles and start from zero the moment they see the defenseman in a position he can be pressured with a body check? There goes the entire concept of a forecheck.

I don’t like NZ interference, but if they’re already going to allow it, I’d love to see before and after injury figures to D, if someone ever runs the numbers. Might help. Might not.


“Maybe because one of these teams is not like the others, stupid. “

Lol.

And that would be [your team] because [your team] are the [honest, legal] good guys? Or would it be [divisional rival], because [divisional rival] are the [dishonest, cheating] bad guys. Gimme a break.

That Nathan already nailed it

“And to be fair, the Blues are just the prime example in the league currently—most other teams are taking similar approaches and taking advantage of the relaxation in the officiating.”

Posted by larry from pitt on 02/10/12 at 05:28 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If you can glide from the center line to make perfect dangerous contact with a defenseman behind his own net, then power to you. Welcome to the man’s game. Enjoy your lesson in Darwinian physics.

If you’re that worried about that, then change the pads so the guy doesn’t feel as safe gliding into a guy.  Allowing people to interfere with other people is dumb.

And that would be [your team] because [your team] are the [honest, legal] good guys? Or would it be [divisional rival], because [divisional rival] are the [dishonest, cheating] bad guys. Gimme a break.

Or it could be that [divisional rival] doesn’t have as much talent on their roster as other teams used as examples and, as Nathan nailed it, are the PRIME EXAMPLE of using interference to bolster their game.  The difference between [division rival] and oh, say [your division rival] is that one of those teams would be markedly worse if obstruction were still being called at the levels it was even two seasons ago and the other would still be a strong contender.

Besides, as they’re the PRIME EXAMPLE, it makes perfect sense to use them when you’re looking for examples.  That’s kind of what PRIME EXAMPLE means.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/10/12 at 05:37 PM ET

Avatar

“If you can glide from the center line to make perfect dangerous contact with a defenseman behind his own net, then power to you. Welcome to the man’s game. Enjoy your lesson in Darwinian physics.

If you’re that worried about that, then change the pads so the guy doesn’t feel as safe gliding into a guy.  Allowing people to interfere with other people is dumb.”

You’re preaching to the choir, especially with the pads. Make em wear what Lanny wore. If a fine or a fight doesn’t get the point across that there are consequences for hitting like it’s a videogame, maybe a rush of shoulder separations will.

Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. Lanny’s coach never told him he needed to stand in front of a Chara slapshot. If it’s a little off the mark and hits him in the chest, will he be alive without Kevlar body armor? What would the PA have to say about this possibility? I happen to think shot-blocking sucks, too, and the players should stop doing it, but there’s no easy way to get rid of that without broken bones and, potentially deaths, something the PA won’t like.

Seems to me putting the guys in soft gear is a change that’s impossible to make via NHL fiat, and one that could have horrible unintended consequences.

NZ obstruction may be dumb, but it’s also doable. Might work, too, but I don’t know for sure. Don’t like it. Might work, though, and it’s something that can be done, unlike recycling Phil Bourque’s “safety” gear.


“Besides, as they’re the PRIME EXAMPLE, it makes perfect sense to use them when you’re looking for examples.  That’s kind of what PRIME EXAMPLE means. “

Don’t know what you think you’re getting at, here. St Louis’s 2012 obstruction is nothing like New Jersey’s 2012 obstruction because they’re better at it? That’s why “one of these teams is not like the others?” I don’t get it. Obstruction is obstruction. It’s a New Years party and everybody’s been drinking from the same keg for about a month, now.

Posted by larry from pitt on 02/10/12 at 06:28 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Of course, it’s not as simple as all that. Lanny’s coach never told him he needed to stand in front of a Chara slapshot. If it’s a little off the mark and hits him in the chest, will he be alive without Kevlar body armor? What would the PA have to say about this possibility? I happen to think shot-blocking sucks, too, and the players should stop doing it, but there’s no easy way to get rid of that without broken bones and, potentially deaths, something the PA won’t like.

I wonder if a hybrid solution regarding allowing chest protection to stay rather beefy while softening shoulder protection would work here? 

An alternate question would be whether a defenseman who isn’t wearing beefy chest protection that makes himself feel invincible would unleash a chest-high slapper into a crowd.  I remember all the old commentators (Mickey Redmond) specifically saying things about how they generally didn’t used to shoot the puck so high.  There’s science to indicate that there is a bit of empathetic planning when it comes to people’s risk tolerance.  Perhaps a guy who doesn’t feel like he could block his own shot safely wouldn’t be so quick to make another guy do that.

Either of those solutions would be preferable to allowing neutral zone interference to me.

Don’t know what you think you’re getting at, here. St Louis’s 2012 obstruction is nothing like New Jersey’s 2012 obstruction because they’re better at it?

Not that they’re better at doing it, but that they’re better FOR doing it than most other teams would be.  Detroit would still be a contender if they called obstruction more often. I think St. Louis is the prime example because I’m not sold that this is a team that can play an open, up-tempo game as well as other squads.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/10/12 at 07:02 PM ET

Avatar

Okay. Got your point. The blues look like champs because of obstruction and the rags or whomever are where they are because that’s where they would be whether they waterski or not.

There’s no easy answer with the equipment, I don’t think, because what it is has been that way since today’s players were kids. I’m sure al macinnis shot low because not doing so could have killed someone in 88, or whatever. While Jason garrison surely doesn’t want to kill Dana tyrell on a point shot, that’s probably never been something he ever had to think about bc the armor eliminated that as something that could happen. It’s almost something that would have to be changed with kids who are 11 right now. Changing it at the pros would be tough. Whatever the case, don’t expect next years shoulder pads to help at all. If padding over hard plastic helped, Antonio margarito would never have had a boxing career.

Posted by Larry from Pitt on 02/10/12 at 07:50 PM ET

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About Kukla's Korner Hockey

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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com