Stanley Cup Playoffs; First Round Notebook

Supplemental discipline confusion: Raise your hand if you know what qualifies as a suspension these days in the NHL. Anyone?

The Department of Player Safety, up until these playoffs, did a terrific job explaining what does and does not qualify as a play deserving of supplemental discipline. There usually was no confusion over a play, and you had a clear understanding of what did and did not qualify for a call from Brendan Shanahan and his team. That has all changed drastically in these playoffs.

First, we had the situation between Ottawa Senators defenseman Eric Gryba getting suspended two games for a hit on Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller, the result of which was not good. I took the unpopular position that the Department of Player Safety got that one right, as replays at least appeared to show that Gryba got the head before he got anything else.

From there, it has become a guessing game.

First, you had Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf throwing a shoulder into the head of the Bruins Daniel Paille, and then you had Senators forward Cory Conacher taking multiple head shots in his team’s game against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night, all of which were worse than the Gryba hit, but just did not have the same ugly result.

So the question has to be asked, does anyone know what actually qualifies as a suspension? It is appearing more and more each day that the “Wheel of Justice” days of supplemental discipline have returned.

Islanders/Penguins turning into a terrific series: After game one of the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders, many thought the series would be over quickly. The Islanders have shown a bit of resiliency over the past two games and gave us one of the best games of the postseason Sunday after noon. For the Islanders to have success moving forward, they need to learn how to protect two goal leads on home ice. Speaking of home ice, has there been any building so far that has been more enthusiastic than the Nassau Coliseum on Sunday Afternoon?

Montreal/Ottawa has gone off the rails: This series started off with everyone involved not having a word to say negatively about the other side and has degenerated into a coach being called a “bug eyed fat walrus” to a line brawl and player intentionally shooting the puck at an Ottawa player as time expired in game three. There was also disagreement on the use of a timeout by Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean at the end of regulation of game 3.  I am starting to get the impression these two sides don’t like each other very much. I am also starting to get the impression we may see a record use of the term “classy” in this series.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the fights at all. Fighting still very much is a part of the game. That being said, I think it is fair to suggest that Montreal embarrassed themselves in game three with some of the running around they did, and if they don’t get control of their emotions, starting with head coach Michel Therrien, then this will be a short series. Ottawa is built to play a physical style of game, and Montreal is making it easy for them to have success here.

Game 4 Tuesday night has become must watch TV.

Check back later this week when we take a look at some of the Western Conference series.