Haggerty: Don't cry over blocked shots


Haggerty: Don't cry over blocked shots

There seems to be an obsession with blocked shots out there in the world of hockey these days.

The pundits say that shot-blocking teams have snuffed offense right out of the playoffs and dulled down the game at the most important time of the year.

The courage and willingness to step in front of slap shots has always been a part of playoff hockey, and always will be. It was a giant part of the Caps upset of the second-seeded Bruins, and helped them push into the second round of the postseason.

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers series certainly highlighted the art of throwing ones body in front of speeding pucks, and it was underscored when the Blueshirts blocked 26 shots in their 3-0 shutout win over the Devils in Game 1 of the conference finals.

There is no doubt its a factor, but there are also some myths slowly becoming fact as this years playoff run unfolds.

The stats through the regular season dont back up the shot-blocking complaints emanating from the four corners of the whining hockey world.

Eastern Conference teams are averaging 2.5 goals per game during this years playoffs in 40 games thus far and the final numbers could rise depending on the offensive output between the Rangers and the Devils in the conference finals.

Last year Eastern Conference teams averaged 2.74 goals per game during 41 playoff games prior to Boston ascending to the Stanley Cup Finals. Theres a slight drop in offense there, but nothing so dramatic that it could be starkly noticeable.

Hockey teams mimic other teams when they create successful formulas for winning, and the blocking shots by any means necessary hasnt truly borne that out.

Of the four teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the New Jersey Devils (30th) and the Los Angeles (29th) Kings blocked the fewest shots in the NHL this season, and the Phoenix Coyotes ranked 19th in blocked shots during the season.

The Rangers are known as the shot-blocking kings on the hockey block, but they only finished seventh in the NHL in blocked shots this season. Five of the top shot-blocking teams in the NHL this season (Canadiens, Stars, Islanders, Oilers and Maple Leafs) didnt get a sniff of the postseason this year, and the San Jose Sharks were bounced in the first round after finishing second with 721 blocked shots during the regular season.

What do all of these numbers mean?

The number of voices grousing about the quality of game during the playoffs or decrying the decline of hockey civilization as we know it are overstating things quite a bit. There really isnt much difference from last years playoff run that seemed to electrify everyone with a highly entertaining Stanley Cup Finals.

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.