Blackhawks News

The Sound and the Fury: Five Frustrating Things from the Chicago Blackhawks Playoffs Series (So Far)

By Ericka McFee
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Pierre McGuire being Pierre McGuire, consummate Pittsburgh Penguins fanboy. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

4. The Media

Oh, NBC. Where do I even begin? I guess we can count our blessings and say that at least Pierre McGuire wasn’t there to make us roll our eyeballs right out of our heads, but there are plenty of other annoying, obsequious commentators out there. If it’s not Sidney Crosby that the talking heads are fawning over, then by default, T.J. Oshie seems to be their next-best golden boy.

Does he deserve at least some accolades? Sure. He’s a good player. And he’s one of the few guys on the Blues who isn’t a dirty player. It’s not surprising there would be some buzz about him, given that Game 2 was his first game back after convalescing from injuries sustained toward the end of the regular season. But for all the hullabaloo, he had zero points and was a -1 in yesterday’s game, while Jonathan Toews made a very positive impact for the Hawks from the get-go in Game 1 (his first game back from injury). Although Oshie enjoyed some well-deserved praise as the Greatest American Hero in the shootout against Russia in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, just remember, there are no shootouts in the playoffs. (Thank heavens for small favors, amirite?)

NBC isn’t the only culprit, however. Just do a simple Google search, and you will see how most sports media outlets have all but written off the Blackhawks in this series, after only 2 games. Funny how their memories are conveniently long when it comes to citing certain facts (like how many consecutive years the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs), yet ridiculously short in other contexts (like how that very same team dropped a 3-1 series lead at the hands of the Hawks last year in the Western Conference Semifinals).

3. The NHL

The controversy over calls and no calls, hits and penalties, fines and other arbitrary punishments is as intractable as it is infinite. It is difficult for a fan of any team to resist the temptation to complain that the referees are biased against them, especially when decisions made during (and sometimes after) a game are just like pouring salt on a wound. But sometimes you just have to wonder if they really are. Whether you think Coach Joel Quenneville should have been fined, or Brent Seabrook penalized, for their respective actions is an entirely different issue from the question of degree. If you look at that second question alone, you may be able to see why the NHL officials really get under my skin. To illustrate:

Exhibit A:

Coach Q gets upset from a blatant no call, makes a rude gesture on live TV (no less rude than what the late Michael Jackson would have been able to do, making millions in the process), and gets fined $25,000. Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins blatantly hits a Red Wings player in the same offending area, gets only a $5,000 fine (which amounts to a couple of shifts). Seems legit.

Exhibit B:

Seabs makes a hit that scrambles the eggs of David Backes; he gets a major penalty, a game misconduct, and an early exit from the game. Brooks Orpik makes a substantially similar hit, but gets absolutely NOTHING. And before you decry one or the other as a “dirty” hit, look at the frame-by-frame comparison between the two. And also look at the history of both players. Guess which player even has a history of dirty play?

Then again, the NHL is a for-profit business. By all means, let’s do something that will make the game more thrilling, like preventing a repeat champion. Right?