Last night there was a bit of a pissing contest between the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Actually it was a battle of wills between coaching styles that resulted in a weird hockey moment where nothing happened – unless you think it’s exciting watching two Flyer defencemen pass the puck to each other, while everyone else stands around. This is hockey?
Moments into the game a confused-looking Martin St. Louis performed kind of a non-forecheck, forecheck, refusing to chase either defencemen.
Like, what’s up with that? Does the NHL want people paying good money and their viewers watching this nonsense, so that the egos of these coaches are satisfied? There was also no score. It was worse than watching the Italian soccer team kill the clock while sitting on a lead. But in this case, that justification doesn’t cut it because it was a scoreless game.
Much has been crowed and scribbled about this ludicrous incident but nothing can really be done, at least not yet. It’s not against the rules but it is against the spirit of the game which is supposed to be fast & fluid. Isn’t that why they took out the red line to speed up the game and let the stars do their thing?
It must have Tampa’s fans scratching their heads as the team’s coach Guy Boucher rigidly sticks to a 1-3-1 trap it appears, under any circumstance, not just defending a lead. On the other hand, Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette decides it’s time to make a statement to show how some coaches deploy the trap to ridiculous excess and choke the flow of the game .
So who’s to blame for this stupid moment? Boucher or Laviolette?
You can’t be happy with either but I’m siding with Laviolette. Why? The Flyers had the puck in their end and a star like Martin St. Louis looked like a scared pee-wee player not sure about what he’s supposed to do. How about the obvious like trying to get the puck back by forechecking instead of waiting at Philly’s blue line with the rest of your team defending a few feet behind?
This is what happens when coaching systems run amuck. Perspective is lost. Sticking to a system — no matter how much of a buzzkill (hello Lemaire-era N.J. Devils) it is, just can’t be the only way for teams to earn points.
Tampa Bay did win the game 2-1 in overtime. A win is a win, right? But at some point if we start seeing more this nonsense the cost to the game will be a lot more than a lousy win. No one will want to watch crap like that.