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 I’m forced to witness one more intercepted pass or one more blocked shot, I’m going to scream.

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

According to Bubba, fathers should be seen, not heard — and only seen during the weekly “handing out of the allowance” ceremony.

Even then, I’m not supposed to speak. I’m like one of them Buckingham Palace guards — stay alert, but don’t talk.

Anyway, here’s the deal with playoff hockey. I don’t consider guys diving in front of shots exciting.

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

But that’s playoff hockey.

It’s 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 “hear things” from sources.

It’s great.

I even don’t mind those filthy playoff beards.

It’s the actual hockey I’m not really digging.

By and large — and I emphasize that — it’s been boring.

Yes, there have been some exciting games. My colleague Steve Simmons — who’s a big fan of the rock garden at the Thornhill Golf & Country Club — 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 it’s 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 it’s easier and safer to coach defence than offence.

Everybody’s always in position now, at least defensively. Nobody seems to be open. There’s no room to create skilled plays. Odd man rushes only seem to occur when there’s a bad line change — 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. Wouldn’t you expect much more than the dull way they plod up and down the ice?

I want bigger ice, dammit (but that’s a rant for another day).

What you get now (and yes there are exceptions) are tons of intercepted passes (yawn) because there’s 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 — which are the norm in playoff hockey. Too many guys who score goals in the playoffs look like they’re 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 ‘suspension roll call’.

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 ‘94, points out, there’s no Sidney Crosby in these playoffs, no Evgeni Malkin. The NHL’s two top goal scorers, Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos, had a combined one goal heading into Wednesday’s games. But, hey, at least there’s Phoenix Coyotes relocation talk.

That’s always really exciting.


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