Why are there too many too many men on the ice penalties?

Aside from diving, the most avoidable penalty in hockey might just be too many men on the ice. Dan Pollard of NHL.com speculates on why, by his count, there have been an unreal 25 instances of the penalty so far this season.

What’s happening here? I guess you look at scoring chances in the second period and figure players are eager to jump into the play. Line matchups certainly can create confusion on the bench. As players are matched and their opposite line switches up or jumps back over the boards, players can jump early. Situational reads can also quickly change the best-laid plans.

Chicago’s Ben Eager became “too many men on the ice” victim No. 25 Monday when he turned away from the bench to play the puck against the Canucks. Eager was lucky the Canucks came up empty on the power play. It’s not always easy to lay blame, but this was a clear cut case of Ben being too Eager.

The chicken or the egg argument came up in Game 5 of the Caps’ first-round series with Montreal when Semyon Varlamov made a dash to the bench before quickly retreating back to his net. Was it Varlamov’s fault for turning back when he saw the play heading up ice or was it his teammates for not accessing the play and jumping too early?

To me, a net-emptying situation might the most acceptable instance. Particularly if the opposing team gains control of the puck before a goalie can get all the way across the ice, forcing the netminder to hesitate to get to the bench (or even need to make a save).

There have been a few times already in which a team’s self-inflicted wound was “fatal.” Pollard points out two.

Two teams have paid the ultimate penalty for having an extra jersey on the ice in overtime this playoff season. In the first round, Anze Kopitar scored with the man advantage for L.A. in OT of Game 2 against Vancouver, and Miroslav Satan scored the game winner in the second overtime for Boston in Game 4 against Buffalo.

There were also a couple cases in which a last minute penalty stemmed the comeback tide for teams. Both the Red Wings and Capitals only earned a 5-on-5 after emptying their nets thanks to Too Many Men on the Ice penalties.

Perhaps the increasing speed and competitiveness of these playoff games makes such infractions unavoidable? Are zebras focusing on calling the penalty more often than before? Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the violation costs another team a big game before the playoffs are over.

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    Just another big game for Filip Forsberg

    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 10, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    Filip Forsberg‘s bid for a hat trick in three consecutive games didn’t quite pan out Saturday. Fear not, he still had a three-point night.

    The 22-year-old Forsberg has been lighting it up of late for the Predators. He had back-to-back hat tricks already this week, the first player to do so since 2010. He then helped lead the way against the Washington Capitals on Saturday, with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over the best team in the NHL.

    That’s nine points in the last three games and 10 points in the last four games for Forsberg. The win pushes Nashville back into third in the Central Division — two points better than St. Louis and 12 points back of second place Chicago.

    Of course there was animosity late in the game when it appeared the Predators were too far out of reach of the Capitals, as Tom Wilson decided to fight Mike Fisher.

    After falling behind in the second period, the Capitals thought they had closed the gap early in the third period only to have video review from a coach’s challenge determine Alex Ovechkin was just offside at the blue line, overturning the original call.

     

    Video: Manning crushes Guentzel with massive hit

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    The Penguins were up in arms after Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning crushed Jake Guentzel with a hit that appeared both high and late during the second period of Saturday’s Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.

    There was no call on the play — the main objection from Pittsburgh’s bench immediately after the hit.

    Guentzel had just moved the puck to a nearby linemate as the play transitioned into the neutral zone when Manning threw the hit, sending Guentzel hard to the ice.

    Guentzel, for now at least, appears to have gotten the last laugh. He returned and recorded the primary assist on Nick Bonino‘s goal, which gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.

    Philly has since cut into the Pittsburgh lead.

    Quick wins in his return, Kings rally versus Ducks

    Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, and goalie Jonathan Quick congratulate each other after defeating the Dallas Stars in an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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    Welcome back, Jonathan Quick.

    Starting for the first time since Oct. 12 — an absence of 59 games due to a groin injury — Quick was solid in his return against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. He stopped 32 shots, allowing for the Kings to eventually find some offense in a 4-1 victory over their California rivals.

    The Kings trailed going into the third period, but came alive with four unanswered goals for an important win in the Western Conference playoff race. Tyler Toffoli scored twice and Jeff Carter secured the win with his 30th goal of the season — after he appeared dazed in a fight with Ryan Kesler earlier in the game.

    In typical fashion, tempers boiled over between these two teams. In typical fashion, Corey Perry was once again at the center of the mayhem. He tripped Anze Kopitar in the second period, leading to a melee before Brayden McNabb and Nate Thompson paired off in the main event.

    “I think the game kind of led to the third. I thought we were playing great leading up to it,” said Quick, per LA Kings Insider.

    “We were creating chances, played hard, heavy and I think if we don’t play like that in the first two periods we don’t get four in the third so we got rewarded for our work over 60 minutes.”

    Again, this is a big win for the Kings.

    Getting back into the top three in the Pacific Division seems like a tall, if not impossible order with 21 games remaining on their schedule and only four wins in their last 10 games. Anaheim, third in the division, is 10 points ahead.

    But this win does help the Kings in their bid for a wild card spot.

    They are only three points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the conference. Nashville was victorious over Washington a few hours after L.A. defeated Anaheim, so the Predators move into third in the Central.

    Quick winning in his return is huge news for the Kings. But more importantly, the players they rely on for offensive production came through. Kopitar had two assists. Carter had a two-point night. Ditto for Toffoli. Tanner Pearson had three assists.

    It’s been a lack of production from top players that coach Darryl Sutter has lamented during his team’s recent struggles.

    “It’s the only way we’re going to make the playoffs. Those guys held scoreless or shut down or outplayed by the other team’s top guys, we won’t make the playoffs,” said Sutter.

    “They have to.”

    WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Penguins from Heinz Field

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 15: Claude Giroux #28 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins go toe-to-toe prior to fighting during the first period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 15, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are going to take their rivalry outside on Saturday.

    The Flyers visit the Penguins in a Stadium Series clash at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch the action on NBC or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Goalie nods: Murray, Neuvirth get the call at Heinz Field

    Kris Letang won’t play in outdoor game; Schultz game-time decision

    NHL On NBC: Penguins, Flyers meet in Stadium Series

    Giroux: ‘It’s all business’ between Penguins and Flyers at Heinz Field