TAMPA, FLA. -- Should the NHL crack down on its crackdown?
Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella sure thinks so.
Choosing his words carefully, Tortorella pointed out before yesterday's game against the Senators that he believes NHL officials need to take another look at the game and the way they're calling obstruction penalties.
He's concerned with the quantity and quality of the fouls being called.
"I'm not crazy about how the game is being played. Last year, everybody was pleased with what happened with our game because they were so glad we were back," said Tortorella.
"We've been into it a year now and I just feel the competing isn't where it should. I think we have players that want to compete, I just think with the rules, we're not allowed to compete.
"I don't blame the refs and I think the league has done some great things to help our game. I just think we're overanalyzing some of these stick checks.
"To compete, you have to lift that stick off the ice and compete in the battle. If players are afraid to lift that stick, you have no battles.
'ALLOW PLAYERS TO COMPETE'
"And I'm not dumping on anybody, that's my opinion. We need to allow players to compete more and not turn it into a gentleman's game because it isn't a gentleman's game."
Tortorella said he can understand why the NHL has gone to the extreme.
"So much cheating was going on in the past, that average players were turned into really good players and really good players were turned into mediocre players and then you have an average sport," said Tortorella.
"You've got to allow the players to battle it out and fight it out a bit."
THE BUZZ: On Saturday night, yours truly went to a bar called Hattricks, which is located near the rink, to watch some hockey. Had to battle with the manager to get one screen kept on Hockey Night in Canada because the Notre Dame-USC football game was being shown everywhere else ... The Sens and Bolts played 6:30 without a whistle in one stretch of the first period. During that action, Senators C Mike Fisher hit the post on a shorthanded breakaway on Tampa G Johan Holmqvist ... Speaking of Holmqvist, he wasn't too busy during one stretch of this game. For a span of 16:58 in the first and second period, the Senators failed to register a shot. The first save Holmqvist made after stopping D Christoph Schubert at 7:52 of the first period came on a backhander by LW Peter Schaefer on the power play at 4:50 of the second ... One lingering question: Will Ottawa G Martin Gerber, who hasn't played a game since a Nov. 13 start against the Montreal Canadiens, get the nod tomorrow against his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes?
SHORT SHIFTS: C Jason Spezza wasn't happy with the hooking penalty he received late in the third period when the Senators were pressing to come back from a 2-1 deficit. "They didn't call much all night," said Spezza. "I lift the stick and it's kind of a tough call. It's a discretionary call and he says that it's a hook. I don't think it was a hook." ... The Maple Leafs may be discussing a trade which would send third-string G Mikael Tellqvist to the Nashville Predators ... Save of the game: Holmqvist getting across the net to stop Ottawa D Joe Corvo's shot after a perfect feed from captain Daniel Alfredsson in the second period ... A couple of Ottawa fans were roundly booed when they were shown on the Kiss Cam ... The visiting team has to walk through a bar called "The VIP Club" in order to get to the ice. After doing some research, there was no proof a player on a visiting team knowingly stopped for a cold beverage.
AND ANOTHER THING: Tortorella has instructed his players not to dive and if they do he'll bench them. "Diving to me ... I think it's embarrassing to the player that dives, it's embarrassing to the referee and it's embarrassing to our whole game," said Tortorella. "I think the guy should get kicked out. Diving is so wrong. It's awful." ... Senators D Andrej Meszaros saw his ice time increase with fellow D Anton Volchenkov (lower body) sidelined with a lower-body injury. Meszaros played 25:13 and finished plus-1 ... Tampa C Brad Richards on Holmqvist: "It was kind of a sloppy game. In the third period, they turned it on and they were attacking, but he was very, very solid."