Stanley Cup Playoffs Arriving Means Hits are Getting Harder

The last couple weeks, NHL players seem to be hitting each other harder and harder. In some cases, like the hit laid on Chicago Blackhawk Brent Seabrook by James Wisniewski a few nights ago, they are literally knocking players out cold. But what’s with all the hard hits lately fellas? I might know the answer.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a few weeks away and the pressure is on. I don’t know exactly what is going through the mind of players like Wisniewski. I don’t know if he intentionally tried to lay Seabrook out like a sack of potatoes or if he was “in the moment” and feeling aggressive. But Seabrook isn’t the only hit that’s been like this lately. There’s also his teammate Brian Campbell (who is now out for the season) and Boston Bruins Marc Savard who was knocked out a couple weeks back. These hits are proof that the players aren’t messing around and they will be as aggressive as they have to so that they can be the ones hoisting up the Stanley Cup in just a few weeks time.

Although I’m all for being aggressive, I think these guys need to be smart about it. When you are headed towards another player and you’re ready to hit him with all you can, remember that you can injure yourself in the process, too. If these NHL players keep making these reckless hits they are not only going to injure their opponent but themselves as well, and then picking up that Stanley Cup will be a difficult task when you have a broken arm.

Repeat Offender, Reckless Ovechkin Needs to Stop Playing Dirty

I think we have all seen the nasty hit that Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin gave Chicago Blackhawks forward Brian Campbell during Saturday night’s game. Campbell was down on the ice for several minutes before being ushered off by team doctors while Ovechkin sat in the penalty box waiting to serve his five minute major. After reviewing the play, referees declared the hit “reckless” which led to his ejection from the game and a two-game suspension by the NHL.

Ovechkin didn’t just shake up Campbell, his hit caused a broken collar bone and broken ribs, not to mention an early end to his season. But what does this to the NHL? The main reason people say they don’t watch hockey is because of the violence. They don’t want their children subjected to that. So when Ovechkin, one of the best players in the league, blatantly tries to injure an opponent, doesn’t that turn people even further away from hockey? Ovechkin even tried to defend his hit:

“It was not a hard hit,” Ovechkin said. “I just pushed him. It’s a moment in the game. I don’t think it has to be five minutes or something like that. I just feel bad. That’s it.”

No matter what the real intention was, I think that if you are the captain of your hockey team you need to own up to your actions. That’s what real leadership is. Besides, this isn’t the first time Ovi has done this. He’s now a repeat offender in the league’s eyes, and maybe he should get a reality “check” and know that you can win without playing dirty.

Cap’s Oveckin banned two games for Campbell hit [NHL.com]

Better Fist Pump: Adam Burish or Jersey Shore’s The Situation?

Following five long months of waiting, Chicago Blackhawks forward Adam Burish made his return to the ice Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. It was his season debut after missing 65 games due to a torn right ACL which he injured in a preseason match-up against the Minnesota Wild. For those who are unfamiliar with Adam Burish, he is the character of the Blackhawks team. Whether he’s taunting other teams or calling the Canadian Olympic hockey team the USA’s “little sister”, he’s always entertaining. That’s why it’s no surprise he came back in style.

After assisting Patrick Sharp on a goal in the first period, Burish found the opponent he was looking for — Richard Clune. Burish told ESPN 1000 Chicago that he was planning the scrap all along and that he had looked over the King’s lineup to find the guy who likes to fight. The real treat came after the brawl was finished and both players had received their penalties. Burish was skating to the penalty box and celebrated by fist pumping. Burish described the feeling of fist pumping for the sold out United Center to ESPN 1000′s Afternoon Saloon:

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Canadians Sure Love Their Hockey

And apparently so do we. Not as much as them, but the TV ratings for the Olympics gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada were through the roof in both countries. The game apparently had an average viewership of 27.6 million and maxed out at 34.8 million viewers at the end of the 3rd period. The only game with a higher rating in the U.S. in the last 30 years was the 1980 gold-medal game against Finland which followed up the Miracle on Ice. Now if you thought that sounded like strong ratings, the numbers in Canada blow ours away:

It was also the most-watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history, with an average audience of 16.6 million viewers. Nearly half of the Canadian population watched the entire game on average, while 80 percent of Canadians watched some part of the game (26.5 million).

80% tuned in at one point? Damn, that’s freaking crazy. The Super Bowl usually attracts less than 50% of our population by comparison. Also putting this game into proper context, the gold-medal game outdrew the Rose Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, March Madness championship game, and the Daytona 500. Without a doubt this was a boon for hockey and hopefully just what the NHL needed to regain some of the popularity it once had. Remember, it was only 15-20 years ago that the NHL had equal popularity as the NBA. I hope this enthusiasm keeps up.

Russia Left Nabakov in Way Too Long

One of the most anticipated matchups of the entire Winter Games in Vancouver turned into a blowout early on. It only took eight minutes for Canada to build a 3-0 lead against Russia in their quarterfinal matchup. The Canadians were up 4-1 after the first period before going on to win it 7-3. It was pretty clear to anyone watching the game that Russia’s starting goalie, Evgeni Nabokov, simply didn’t have it. I’ve never been a big Nabokov guy but I can’t deny his dominant regular season play, so I’m not complaining that he was their top option. What I don’t understand is how they didn’t yank him in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov after the first.

The Russians still had a shot at winning the game when they were down by only three. They stuck with Nabokov and he gave up a goal early in the second to Corey Perry where he was pathetically out of position (check out the picture above). Even with your chances dwindling at 5-1, you have to give yourselves the best opportunity to win and make that change. They didn’t. Shea Weber slapped one in to make it 6-1 before the Federation decided it was time to finally make the change. Nabokov’s final numbers were 17 stops on 23 shots. He left with the score six to freaking one.

Russia added two more goals in the period while Bryzgalov allowed a goal to make the score 7-3. While it may have been hard to come back from down three goals, the Russian coach owed it to his team to give them the best chance to win. Leaving Nabokov in only allowed Canada a chance to waltz into the semis. Despite all the commotion and second-guessing following Team USA’s upset win on Sunday, it looks like we’re in for a gold medal game rematch of Sunday’s contest. The Canadians have been dominating all their games in the shots on goal category and are scary.

Idiots Climb onto Catwalk at Joe Louis Arena, Delay Kings/Red Wings Game

The thing that’s so much fun about maintaining this site is seeing all the new, crazy stuff that happens on a daily basis. It’s almost like that part in the Howard Stern movie, Private Parts, where listeners are asked why they tune into the show. Love him or hate him, the top reason given was: “I want to see what he’ll say next.” That’s kind of how it is here where I wonder what sort of crazy or dumb thing can happen next. Check out this video via SI’s Hot Clicks and Detroit4Lyfe that shows three Red Wings fans who delayed the game by climbing onto the catwalk:

The Kings actually won that game Saturday night 3-2 as they continue to show they’re one of the top contenders in the Western Conference. Likewise, the fans continue to show just how idiotic they can get. Normally I refrain from rewarding dumbasses that interrupt games with their actions, but this was too unique to pass up.

Must-See Crazy KHL Fight Video

The only way you’ve ever seen anything like the fight video you’re about to see is if you’ve watched Slap Shot before. Thing is that was only a movie — the KHL brawl between Vityaz Chekhov and Avangard Omsk happened in real life. The first part of the video was somewhat light. Around the 1:40 mark is where things get really heavy. Again, this is the Kontinental Hockey League featuring former NHL star Jaromir Jagr so you know it’s a legit league. Without further ado, here’s the vid:

According to the NY Times, 691 penalty minutes were handed out to 30 players. No surprise they had to suspend the game because neither team had enough players to continue. I have never seen anything like that in a real game before. If the league takes discipline seriously, they’ll probably be setting records with length and amount of fines. Unfreakingbelievable.