Wednesday, February 23, 2011

There are too many men playing hockey tonight

The games: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Phoenix Coyotes. Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche.

Why I chose them: Honkin' tall French Captain is back in fine form, the score is Tampa 8, Phoenix 3 with seven minutes to go in the third period. And there's Guy Boucher, mais oui. Matt Duchene is back. That means one current and three potential Calder nominees (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi) in one game. Good enough for me. So is this: Honkin' tall French Captain there racked up five points (one goal, four assists).

The other game: Portland Winterhawks plays tonight in the second of two games against Prince George Cougars.

You don't see this everyday: In last night's game between Portland and Prince George, both teams got coincidental penalties for too many men on the ice. If the WHL rulebook is similar to the NHL, yes this is possible. Here are the key highlights:

Rule 74, Too Many Men on the Ice:

-- Players may be changed at any time during the play from the players' bench provided that the player or players leaving the ice shall be within five feet of his players' bench and out of the play before the change is made.

-- If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or retiring is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called.

-- A player coming onto the ice as a substitute player is considered on the ice once both of his skates are on the ice. If he plays the puck or interferes with an opponent while still on the players' bench, he shall be penalized under Rule 56 - Interference.

Early bird special: He's not even on our roster yet, but keep an eye on the Portland Winterhawks' first round pick in the 2010 Bantam Draft, Nic Petan. He just played in the Canada Winter Games, which features young hockey players 15 and under. He was on Team BC, which won the tournament. More importantly, he racked up the game winning goal and four assists in the final gold medal game and the stick he used to do so will henceforth be living in its new home in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Oh yeah, he's all of 16 (as of March 22), he's all of 5'6" and among his teammates on Team BC: Steen Cooper, running a very close second to Steele Boomer for best hockey name, ever.

In the meantime, we must make this happen: Ryan Johansen continued his blitz with two goals last night. He nearly had a hat trick about two weeks ago, save for a late video review that handed it to Brad Ross. So Portland readers, to refresh, we must all take a pre-game moment to repeat the following: Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. Hat trick. Ryan Johansen. I know we can make this happen.

Morals of the story:

The game: Like life, the devil is in the details. Or not. Notice that this rule does not define putting an extra player on the ice without pulling the goalie qualifies as a penalty. So math would not be one of the details you need to worry about, then? Discuss.

Life: There should be a rule like this for commuter gridlock. Once there are too many men on the highway, anyone who attempts to hit the freeway after that should be "penalized" by being made to return home, indulge in the extra cup of coffee, tea, whatever and try again at 9 am, when the rest of the rat race is safely esconced in cubeville in Corporate America.

Next up: The ongoing futile but noble attempt to understand the cap room rule.

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