Why the hockey playoffs suck

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:04 PM ET

Sitting in my hell hole of a rec room on Monday night, watching the Boston Bruins lumber past the Montreal Canadiens, I thought to myself, if Iím forced to witness one more intercepted pass or one more blocked shot, Iím going to scream.

Two seconds later, I screamed. And that, unfortunately, drew the ire of a certain teenager upstairs, who ordered me to ďpipe down.Ē

According to Bubba, fathers should be seen, not heard ó and only seen during the weekly ďhanding out of the allowanceĒ ceremony.

Even then, Iím not supposed to speak. Iím like one of them Buckingham Palace guards ó stay alert, but donít talk.

Anyway, hereís the deal with playoff hockey. I donít consider guys diving in front of shots exciting.

Itís very brave. The guys are tough, no question, taking one for the team and all that, hip hip, Bobís your uncle, etc, etc. But is it exciting? No.

But thatís playoff hockey.

Itís all passion, no fun. They pipe up the intensity, they dull down the skill. Just like a federal election.

Listen, I absolutely love the intensity of playoff hockey.

I love good, clean hits.

I love the atmosphere in and around the arenas during playoff hockey, even at the Bell Centre when they parade out that goofy kid with the torch.

I love all them analysts and experts and the guys who stand at those bright, shiny desks who ďhear thingsĒ from sources.

Itís great.

I even donít mind those filthy playoff beards.

Itís the actual hockey Iím not really digging.

By and large ó and I emphasize that ó itís been boring.

Yes, there have been some exciting games. My colleague Steve Simmons ó whoís a big fan of the rock garden at the Thornhill Golf & Country Club ó points out that some Nashville-Anaheim and Los Angeles-San Jose games in particular have been barn burners.

But overall, the playoffs are lacking.

Yes, more goals would be nice.

But itís not just that.

The teams are over-coached and, unfortunately, teams seemed to be over-coached on defence, not offence. I can only guess that itís easier and safer to coach defence than offence.

Everybodyís always in position now, at least defensively. Nobody seems to be open. Thereís no room to create skilled plays. Odd man rushes only seem to occur when thereís a bad line change ó and that happens all the time because the bloody coaches are anal when it comes to matching up lines and timing shifts.

I want more creativity. I want more flow.

I want some wide open action.

Look at the Boston Bruins roster. Wouldnít you expect much more than the dull way they plod up and down the ice?

I want bigger ice, dammit (but thatís a rant for another day).

What you get now (and yes there are exceptions) are tons of intercepted passes (yawn) because thereís no open guys. You get neutral zones being clogged up. You get eight guys standing in front of the goaltenders looking for, and trying to prevent, garbage goals ó which are the norm in playoff hockey. Too many guys who score goals in the playoffs look like theyíre digging onions.

And this is what you get after games. You get TV, newspaper and radio guys interviewing the always illuminating Colin Campbell, instead of rehashing great plays and wonderful rushes. They might not want to interview Colie, but they have to. Colin Campbell is the guy to talk to after the NHL releases its daily Ďsuspension roll callí.

And after that, you get 25 TV analysts discussing whether a hit deserves a one-game, two-game or three-game suspension.

Who #$%^&*@ cares.

As our associate sports editor Jon McCarthy, who lost his H back in the blizzard of Ď94, points out, thereís no Sidney Crosby in these playoffs, no Evgeni Malkin. The NHLís two top goal scorers, Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos, had a combined one goal heading into Wednesdayís games. But, hey, at least thereís Phoenix Coyotes relocation talk.

Thatís always really exciting.


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