Some reactions from around the interweb to last night’s Flyers-Lightning fiasco…
Scott Burnside, ESPN: “Anyone who thinks having 10 guys go rigor mortis is going to happen every night, well, those same people also likely think the Columbus Blue Jackets are on the right track.
“Of course, there will now be debates about whether a penalty should be imposed for inertia. Go ahead. It will be called about as often as the so-called ‘Sean Avery penalty’ that was rushed into existence after he did his stick shimmy in front of Martin Brodeur in the playoffs.”
Greg Wyshynski, Yahoo! Puck Daddy: “While we don’t favor reactionary rule changes, we do acknowledge the necessity to occasionally close loopholes. So is it time for an NHL “shot clock” to prevent what the Flyers did last night? Last night’s first period was a car wreck; the next time we see it, we may not feel the need to ogle so intently.
“So what to do? Put a 20-second clock on teams in their own zone, mandating they skate or pass out of the zone in the time period or else face a penalty? Well, then we might have teams skating over the blue line and then back into the zone, like a wrestler breaking a referee’s count by rolling in and out of the ring. You can’t be that specific about it.
“Which is why the ‘Shot Clock’ — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — needs to be up to the discretion of the referee, rather than a ticking countdown on the scoreboard. It needs to be a matter of intent.”
Tim Wharnsby, CBC: “But can the league do anything? There is little doubt that this will be a topic at the NHL general managers meeting in Toronto on Tuesday. Maybe they can come up with a rule to make the team without the puck to engage in its forecheck a little more than the Lightning do. But unless what the Flyers did last night becomes more prevalent in games the Lightning decide to sit back, why succumb to the hasty reaction out there?”
Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star: “If the NHL is serious about increasing scoring and making a skill-based game more aesthetically appealing, it will think hard about finding a way to make it illegal. Kudos to Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette for creatively exposing one of the game’s banes.
“As Jaromir Jagr said of the game, which ended in a 2-1 Tampa overtime victory: ‘It was like a chess match.’
“Waiting for a checkmate has never been a TV-ratings smash for a reason. Minimizing the impact of coaching strategy while maximizing the exposure of the game’s highly skilled stars should be the NHL’s next move.”
Mark Spector, Sportsnet: “There are tactics that exist, however, that can pry a trap open far enough for a player to dart through with the puck. Then the pendulum swings, and a group of Tampa forwards who are standing still are apt to take a penalty on a speedy Philly puck carrier.
“Score on the resulting powerplay and you’ve got the lead, and like Tylenol for a headache, the surest way to stop your opponent from trapping is to get ahead of him on the scoreboard.
“But, either [Peter] Laviolette does not have the confidence in his team to use speed and skill to attack the trap. Or (gasp) he hasn’t game-planned a way to do it.”
Mike Halford, PHT: Hopefully there’s no knee-jerk reaction to this. Last night was a perfect storm — nationally televised game, two headstrong coaches and one guy (Pronger) who is completely comfortable being booed while in possession of the puck. Everything was in place for it to be a PR nightmare. Which it was.
Thing is, I just can’t see it happening all that often. If Tampa’s 1-3-1 was truly an impenetrable force, the Lightning would be 15-0-0 rather than 8-5-2. They also wouldn’t have lost games by scores of 7-4, 6-5, 5-1, 4-2 and 4-1.
I liken this to 2008, when the Wildcat Formation gained huge notoriety in the NFL. For a while the Wildcat was the greatest, most innovative scheme the football world had ever seen (even though it’d been used since the 90s) and it looked almost impossible to figure out.
Then it took about eight weeks for defensive coordinators to figure out how to stop it. Now ask yourself: When’s the last time you’ve seen a Wildcat Formation?
And that’s the thing — eventually, NHL coaches will figure out how to break Tampa’s 1-3-1. On that note, I leave you with this tweet from Sportsnet’s Arash Madani: