Things got tense in Montreal last night. The Bruins, authors of two stress-inducing comebacks through the first two games of their series against the Canadiens had just scored to make it 3-2.
They had a draw in the offensive zone.
They won it.
The puck gets moved behind the Habs net.
P.K. Subban went back to get it.
OOPS DID I TAKE A BAD ROUTE TO THE PUCK MY BAD.
He knocked the net off the moorings, and while his failed clearing attempt found its way to David Krejci who was locked and loaded to fire from the point, the ref noticed and blew the play dead. How convenient.
Should P.K. Subban have been called for delay of game there (which would have resulted in a penalty shot)?
No. There’s no way to prove it was on purpose, so with that large punishment looming, making that call would’ve sparked endless outrage.
Did Subban do it on purpose?
Oh, I think so. The pressure was on, some time had run off the clock since the last draw, and getting a whistle there allows the Habs to reset, try to win another face-off and clear the zone. he might as well give it a bump - if it comes off, good, if not, he didn’t take himself out of the play.
This isn’t exactly a breakthrough strategy for players, as Tuukka Rask mentioned post-game. His comment? "A veteran move. I mean, everybody does it. Referees, sometimes they call it, sometimes they don’t.”
But oops-ccidentally knocking the net off the moorings when your team is under duress isn’t the only “acceptable” way hockey players cheat.
Today I thought we’d look at five moves that make your opponents tap the middle of their face with the “I nose what you’re up to” gesture. IIIIIII nose.
5 common, accepted ways to “cheat” in hockey
The Goalie Time Kill
Common. Fun. Impossible for the refs to flag down, because goalies get treated like first children. Would they lie? Nooo.
If your team is dead-tired and an iced puck prevents a change, your goalie will either recognize this, or be told to recognize this: buy us some time. Sometimes that request doesn’t follow an icing, but after a coach wants a line to stay out that’s kinda gassed. Either way, you need a few extra seconds.
The most common moves from goalies:
* I lost an edge
* Strap on my pad came undone
* I need another water bottle
* My stick is busted
* My helmet is borked
* My neck protector is wonky
Ideally, you’d like the goalie to go to the bench, but that’s rarely allowed - it’s sort of obvious - so they do the best they can from within the crease.
The Skater Time Kill
Goalies aren’t the only humans capable of wasting time when rest is needed. Skaters have a few go-to options, starting with the intentional face-off ejection. Everyone needs to catch their breath, so you send in some guy who never takes a draw to cheat blatantly, so comically ridiculous that the linesman won’t drop the puck. That buys a few extra gulps of oxygen, until, whaddya know, the line can’t figure out who should step in to take the draw now that the first guy’s been ejected.
You? Me? You? Him? Me? You?
Another decent technique is jamming your heel into the ice and creating a hole, then showing the linesman, whose job it is to repair. Hell, you don’t even need to make a hole, just show him somewhere on the ice to drag things out. “You want that filled?” “Er, yeah.” “Go line up.”
Oh, skaters also use the stick snap too. And you know how it is - after that it takes a while at the bench to figure out which twig you want.
Pushing a guy offside
There’s no better way to defend a rush when backchecking than to “oops” run into the guy dragging his leg trying to stay onside. “Oh I’m sorry, did I push you across the line?” You get the whistle, the play is over, and dammit, you deserve the Selke Trophy.
Most teams on the powerplay stretch a forward along the far blue, usually behind the opposing team’s defense. Those players are in a position to pick the defenders backing up, so refs are hyper-sensitive about any d-man that suddenly loses his footing backing up, as it creates an immediate opportunity for the offense. So, d-men cash in on this by not avoiding the contact (they occasionally strive to make it, actually), then falling down like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football away. Then up goes the refs arm, and it’s two minutes for being somewhat kinda remotely near a defenseman. 4-on-4 here we come.
Sometimes you’re all but roasted, so you’re desperate. When a guy is blowing past you without the puck to create an odd-man rush while you’re backchecking, you’re allowed to at least bump the guy, right? When you get close enough, you’ve got to extend the butt-end of your stick past your top hand and get a mini-hook on the guy’s arm. You gain speed, he loses it. Win-win.
If you’re really in trouble and find yourself backchecking a guy on a breakaway, the go-to is a little top-hand poke on the shooter. It’s not a slash, it’s not a hook, and it’s really tough to recalibrate after that.
All these things are common throughout the game, which is partially why being an official is so tough. Half the battle is determining what was an accident in a game full of them, and what was done with ill-intent.
P.K. Subban might have meant to knock the net off its moorings, he might not have, but for him, that’s the beauty of the play.
Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Eric Bolte