The 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have been intense and physical thus far. There are multiple series that are three games to one, followed up with pushing, shoving, name-calling, and fist-flying. However, this blog will discuss the dominating issues in the game that have been trending over the past several days.
The major issue has come from the Chicago Blackhawks - St. Louis Blues series. Besides the Blackhawks being down 3-1, the Hawks are without one of their leading performs this postseason in Andrew Shaw due to a homophobic slur. After shoving Jay Bouwmesster into Brian Elliot, the referees sent Shaw to the penalty box for interference. After some jostling, the officials escorted the feisty forward to the sin bin. Along the way, he flipped the bird (twice!!) at the referee and called him an "f" word. As a result, Shaw was suspended one game and fined an additional $5,000.
The call sets a new precedent for actions and words like this to the players in the league, but is it a just one, or is this a setup? Could this be the way the Blackhawks go out, with the excuse of a productive forward being unable to play and the lack of production from the likes of the Hawks' stars?
Another major issue has been fighting after the final buzzer of the game. In the Detroit Red Wings - Tampa Bay Lightning series, we witnessed Wings' winger Justin Abdelkader throw punches at Lightning winger Michael Blunden (Game 2), and Bolts' center Brian Boyle and Abdelkader push and shove (Game 3). In the Blackhawks - Blues series, we saw Hawks' netminder Corey Crawford tussle with Blues' winger Robbi Fabbri. In the Philadelphia Flyers - Washington Captials series, we saw intense pushing and shoving after Flyers' center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare push Capitals' defenseman Dimitri Orlov into the boards. In a sport that has a fanbase of people that enjoy fights, this is (1) entertaining and (2) meaningful playoff hockey.
Another major issue as of late has been the death of Ed Snider, the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers. Snider did last monday at the age of 83 due to complications with cancer. During the route of the Flyers, the fans began throwing wristbands the team gave the fans onto the ice and onto the players. There has been a debate whether or not the Flyers have the worst fans in pro sports and that should never be judged upon. The Flyers fans are fantastic. They are awesome to be around and should never be doubted. The fans want a winning product, even though their club is going through a rebuild. Plus, they are playing the best team in hockey.
Another issue is the multiple series that are 3-1. The Kings, Flyers, Wings, Wild, and Blackhawks were all down by two games after Game 4. Who could come back? Who is down now? To me, the Kings and Blackhawks have the experience and talent to come back. The Flyers and Wild are down. The Wings were finished off already by the Bolts.
The final issue is the future of Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. He said that he would retire when his team was out of the playoffs to spend time with his daughter in Russia. There has also been murmurs that he may play in the KHL. For the Wings, this is a major blow as they lose a talented two way forward. Could this be the end of the playoff streak?
What are your thoughts on the playoffs?
More to come…