A conversation about the NHL's thrilling post-season
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation,Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic) talk about the NHL postseason.
In the early 1980s, Canadian author and essayist Mordecai Richler penned a seminal piece for Inside Sports magazine entitled "What Hockey Needs is More Violence." The story was witty, imaginative, and biting, irony dripping from the conceit like blood from a goon's busted face.
If this year's NHL postseason is any indication, however, I think Richler's satirical arrows may have been misplaced.
Violence is up. Way up. As of Monday—roughly halfway through the first round of the playoffs— there have been 11 postseason fights. By comparison, the 2011 playoffs featured 12 brawls total. Fights per game during the regular season? Only 0.49, a five-year low. Fights per game during the playoffs? A reported 0.89. Almost double. And that's just fisticuffs. Rough, dirty, and downright nasty play also seems to be surging: There's Nashville's Shea Weber kicking off the chase for the Stanley Cup in earnest with an already infamous plexiglass face-slam of Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg; Vancouver star Henrik Sedin being sent to the locker room after literally taking it on the chin; a New York Rangers-Ottawa Senators series that could double as an MMA pay-per-view; and an ultra-physical Pittsburgh Penguins-Phildelphia Flyers series that has seen skilled superstar Sidney Crosby—no, really—get into a tete-a-tete with fellow non-enforcer Claude Giroux. As Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said about the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia matchup, "It's going to be a bloodbath."
MORE ON HOCKEY
And to think: That quote was uttered before the playoffs began.