There are several penalties being called in the NHL right now that I really despise. The 'puck over the glass' rule is endlessly frustrating, the trapezoids behind the nets seem ineffective, and the 'covering a puck with your hand' in the D-zone rule is transparently a desperate attempt to call more penalties.
In short, the NHL appears willing to go so far as to embarrass itself for the sake of emphasizing skill/scoring, and cracking down on loopholes in their rulebook that basically protect cheating.
While it's clear that the NHL hasn't got it all right, all the time, the league deserves a lot of credit for taking obstruction out of the game.
The extra stick-work and unwarranted contact that the "New NHL" eliminated hasn't been missed by anyone but dinosaurs. Moreover, the league has made (limited) strides towards reducing hits to the head, and hopefully has extended the careers (not to mention mental health and even lives) of many of its players.
What we've been presented with in these playoffs has been the worst of both the aforementioned worlds. All the terrible rules and penalties are still there, but much of the old-school obstruction play has been come back with a vengeance, and tonight we were been presented with two hits that went unpenalized that could also both have meant a serious injury to both players:
no call here either pic.twitter.com/nABwzQXsOT— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 28, 2015
GIF: No penalty on this Kronwall hit on Kucherov pic.twitter.com/URkM6NrOZW— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 28, 2015
It's not that there haven't been exciting games or interesting story lines throughout these playoffs, but they're becoming increasingly frustrating to watch, and a big part of that is that the NHL isn't being consistent with the way they're calling penalties. Dump, chase, hack, bump, rinse, wash, repeat. It's boring.
I don't want to see more power plays per se - I generally prefer 5-on-5 play - but if there is play that is impeding skill from coming to the fore, why not correct it? The Sens - Habs series was straight up boring to watch after a wild first game. Really, it was paint-drying kind of dump'n chase play with defenders running all kinds of interference on forechecking forwards. Looking at others, the Isles - Caps series is perhaps the most under-officiated I have seen so far: not a single penalty was called in the entirety of Game 7 until only 2:54 remained in the game.
Let's hope Round 2 has more skill in store for us.