Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Hockey Playoffs-2009

It’s time to fasten your seat belts, girls and boys, because the ride is going to get a little bit rougher day by day.

It’s time for hockey playoffs, in leagues throughout North America. The National Hockey League has opened the gates for teams to vie for the opportunity to skate around the rink with the Stanley Cup. Even though the first round has not yet seen a winner, the games have been a real treat. Mean and nasty.

The main difference between these playoff games and the last couple of weeks in the regular season lies in the intensity that we see in the post season games. Every faceoff, every shift, every scrum around the net. When the cameras focus on the faces of the players, you can see that they mean business.

As is the case in most playoff games, one goal can make a huge difference. It is the responsibility of every player on every shift to contribute to the cause, to find that chink in the opposition’s armour, to slide the perfect pass to set up an all important goal.

One goal often leads to shifts in momentum during playoff games.

The Belleville Bulls had their backs to the wall going into last Sunday’s game at home against Brampton. They had been hammered in Brampton, and Coach Burnett called on his veterans to contribute. Within a short period of time in the second period, they rolled over the Battalion. They poured over the blueline, fed perfect passes and converted all opportunities. They were unstoppable.

The Bills will play this Thursday in the Yardmen Arena at the Quinte Sports Centre. For some reason, there are always a few extra tickets left unsold for these games. I blame it on the rumour mill. The word on the street is that the games are sold out, and people do not make the effort to dispel the rumour. The same situation always occurred when the Wellington Dukes were in the playoffs. People on the other side of the bridge always assumed that the games were sold out, or that they needed to get to the rink early to get their blankets down. Myths die slowly.

This will likely be the last year that Bulls’ fans will be able to watch P. K. Subban. I would be hard pressed to think of another Belleville Bull who initiates as much discussion about his play. He has a great number of fans, and also many critics.

His play is exciting, without doubt. But his style also leads to turnovers, and to scoring chances for the opposition. Those situations give his critics fodder to rip away at Subban. He is, after all a defenseman, the last line of protection before the goaltender. If he coughs up the puck, it can mean quick disaster.

In this, his last year with the Bulls, he seems to take matters into his own hands, and often free wheels with the puck from his own zone. He rarely dumps the puck, but fights his way through the opposition, circling their net, looking for the open man in front of the net.

He has learned some patience, but still needs to consider his teammates more often on the ice. His infuriating habit of tapping his stick whenever he wants the puck does not happen as often as it did when he first arrived; however, he will not find that move popular at higher levels of the game.

His supporters believe that he is destined to wear the “Bleu, blanc et rouge” of the Montreal Canadiens next year. The Habs are a little thin on the blue line, as is indicated in their anaemic playoff results this year.

His detractors believe he needs more seasoning before heading to “The Show”. He must learn to see the ice better, to learn the flow. The nay sayers also find fault with his self control, especially at key times in games.

Most serious hockey observers believe that P. K. has the tools to be a fine player in the National Hockey League. Those of us who catch most of the games in Belleville have been well entertained with his play.

We would really like to see him play against the winner of the Windsor-London series. But that lies ahead, and it is anybody’s guess who will still be around next week.

Keep your head up, and your stick on the ice.

James Hurst

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?