When sports media types don't have a clue as to which team is going to win the seventh game of a series, we go to the books. We look up how many Game 7s a team has won in its history, as if some triumph or failure 40 years ago could possibly have a bearing on the outcome. We trot out the importance of home-ice advantage knowing full well that the pressure to perform on home ice can be terrifying and overwhelming to the home team.
When those fail, we turn to the "best team wins" cliché, a premise based on the idea that it usually prevails even if its opponent got timely breaks, benefited from controversial calls or lucked out via a goal that went in off someone's backside.
All of the above makes for a problem when predicting the outcome of tonight's Bruins-Hurricanes showdown in Boston. The reason is that nothing has held to form in this series.
Carolina has a history of winning seventh games
And while it's true the Bruins have a dismal history in Game 7's,
If there's been a defining trend in this series, it's that neither team has played to its full abilities for any appreciable time. The Bruins, who win via timely scoring, clutch goaltending, strong defensive play in their own end, and puck possession in their opponent's zone, played three stinkers before finally getting their act together. Bruins fans can take hope that in rebounding from a 3-1 deficit, their team played the kind of game that brought it to the top of the Eastern Conference and within a handful of points of the Presidents' Trophy as the best team in the regular season.
And one could argue that the Hurricanes have choked on prosperity, blowing that same lead largely because of an inability to control the puck in their own zone, failing to support goaltender
So is there a trend here at all? Well, the Bruins are a very good team that has found its game while the 'Canes, a team that some might argue was fortunate to find its way past the New Jersey Devils, must now go into Boston and do what it couldn't do there in Game 5 or at home in Game 6.
Ward certainly could steal the win up north, but Thomas has his game back. The Bruins are playing physically with a team that doesn't like to get hit, and they are better in their own zone than the 'Canes. And if there is a little bit of history to take into this game, just go back to Wednesday night in Washington. It didn't matter where it was played or what the history was, the team that got the breaks early and built on them won.
It goes that way. How you play matters most. And right now, the Bruins are playing better than the 'Canes.
If there's a trend here, that's the one to go with.
Never in my history of writing on this site have I received mail like I've gotten regarding my column on the NHL's twisted and tortured logic in reversing the automatic suspension handed out to Carolina's
I've received well over 200 postings and they run about 20-1 in agreement, a significant number given that most people usually write to tell you how wrong you are rather than to give voice to something they agree with.
It seems that in this case, however, readers are bothered to the nth degree by the inexplicable lack of consistency in NHL decisions regarding supplemental discipline. I should also point out that regarding a Canada vs. U.S. breakdown, Canadians and fans with mailing addresses from Carolina were more likely to side with Campbell while arguing that not only should there not have been a suspension, but Walker shouldn't have been fined. In some cases, writers argued he should be given a medal.
In any other league (NBA, NFL, a freakin' beer league for God's sake); Walker would have been suspended, no matter what the circumstance. You have finally touched on, in my opinion, why the NHL will never be considered "professional". I hope they see this article and take it to heart. How seriously a league is taken is a direct result of how the league treats its own players, and in this instance (and many, many others), the NHL fails miserably.
For everyone who missed the hockey class at sport-writing school this is a CONTACT SPORT where aggression is an integral component & strategy of the game. Turning the game into essentially the Ice Capades with these wussy minor penalty calls to increase scoring simply turns multi-million dollar star players into Academy-awarding wining actors, and melodramatic media outrage over incidents like this simply furthers a relatively uninformed public opinion that hockey is just some brutal sport played by a bunch of dumb criminals.
If the NHL wants to increase their fanbase so they can fiscally compete with the likes of football, baseball, and basketball, they need enlist the help of folks like you to show the general public why hockey is clearly the most exciting, physically challenging, and mentally taxing sport on the planet. This year's playoff series has been one of the most exciting in years, yet all the sport-writers want to talk about is a right hook and a black eye.
Finally, a word about the Pittsburgh Penguins: For all the supposed dislike between
Say what you will about the administration of the sport, but you can never take away the things in the game that truly make it real.