Welcome to Murphy’s Hockey Law – where the truth on hockey is the law. What you’ll find here is my ‘tell it like it is’ take on things. I’ll be asking for your opinion on controversial hits, for you to chime in on what I have to say and your song suggestions for the ‘Play of the Week‘ page. You’ll also find audio clips from my weekly radio show called “Murphy’s Hockey Law” on the show page and ‘Show Archive’ section on the sidebar.
Murph on Fox 25 News recapping Game 2 of the Bruins-Rangers series with Brendan Fitzgerald.
If you missed “Murphy’s Hockey Law” yesterday, listen to it now!
First hour guests: Chris Johnston (Sportsnet.ca), Jesse Spector (Sporting News) and Grant Sonier (ESPN The Magazine)
MHL Show – May 18 – First Hour
Second hour guests: Shawn Roarke (NHL.com), Curtis Zupke (NHL.com) and Brian Daccord (Stop It Goaltending)
MHL Show – May 18 – Second Hour
Torres at it again? Raffi Torres — who is no stranger to controversial hits — comes in high on Jarret Stoll and appears to make contact with the head of Stoll. Clean or dirty?
In my predictions of the quarterfinals series of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, I went 6-for-8 with the teams I predicted to advance to the second round and 3-for-8 in number of games series would be completed in with two of the three having the right team. Hopefully I have similar success in the Conference semifinals with these picks:
If you missed “Murphy’s Hockey Law” yesterday, listen to it now!
First hour guests: Sean McIndoe (Down Goes Brown and Grantland), Aaron Murphy (ESPN America) and Andy Strickland (TrueHockey.com)
MHL Show – May 11 – First Hour
Second hour guests: Kerry Goulet (StopConcussions.com & 29sports.com) and Conor McKenna (TSN 690 Montreal)
MHL Show – May 11 – Second Hour
Road Game Advantage?
On Sunday before they left for Toronto for games 3 and 4 with their series tied at one with the Leafs, Bruins winger Milan Lucic had some interesting quotes on how he and NHL players in general can thrive off opposing crowds and what may seem like hostile environments on the road. It got me wondering, just how much of a home advantage NHL teams have in the playoffs?
In 2011 Lucic and the Bruins fell behind 0-2 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against the Canadiens and things looked pretty bleak as they headed to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 at the Bell Centre. I still remember Mark Recchi saying to me in a text almost Mark Messier style but at the time not on the record: “We’ll bring this thing back tied at two.” So considering Recchi had two Stanley Cup rings already and had been part of the 2006 Stanley Cup Champions Hurricanes team that had been in the same position and brought their first round series against Montreal back to Carolina tied at two, I figured I’d predict that on Twitter. The Bruins won games 3 and 4 and then won an epic seven-game series with the Habs, en route to the Stanley Cup that they would clinch on the road in Vancouver in Game 7. (Thanks again Rex for making look like a pro!)
But fast forward to this past Sunday and there was Lucic – his team coming off a clunker in Game 2 Saturday with the Leafs tying the series at one – confident and looking forward to Games 3 and 4 at what promised to be a raucous ACC Centre in Toronto with Leafs fans cheering on their team at the first playoff games there in nine years.
“You’ve got to embrace the challenge that’s ahead of you and you’ve got to be excited about it and look forward to it,” Lucic said. “Looking at the situation we were in [in 2011] compared to this situation, it’s got to come from within. It’s got be done on the ice and there has to be a commitment from all 20 guys on the ice and that’s what we had going into Montreal. It was probably the worst-case scenario for us because at the time we had lost five straight in Montreal, so going into a situation like that we knew it was all or nothing and it’s pretty much the same situation here. We’ve got to go in with that same mentality where it’s all or nothing. We’ve got to put everything on the line or it can end shortly.”
Lucic then acknowledged to me that he actually relishes the chance to silence an opposing crowd in the playoffs almost more than scoring or winning in his home barn TD Garden in Boston.
“What makes the game great, as much as it is fun and awesome to get your crowd cheering when you make a big play or score a goal and they’re cheering, but to silence a crowd is a different feeling, it’s cool,” Lucic said. “It’s tough to explain, it’s almost an accomplishment. You have to do your best to feed off an opposing crowd and kind of get yourself going as you would off your home crowd. There’s a lot to look forward to heading into a building like that where there hasn’t been playoff hockey in nine years. It’s a place that’s been sold-out for a number of years and you expect the crowd noise to go up another level heading into the playoffs.”
On Monday Lucic and the Bruins went into the ACC Centre and as expected the place was rocking and the environment was very similar to that of Rogers Center in Vancouver or the Bell Centre in 2011. And just like he and the Bruins did then, they once again silenced the opposing fans and made them a non-factor and took a 2-1 lead in the series with a 5-2 win. Now, the Leafs can still use that crowd to their advantage and tie this series at two in Game 4 on Wednesday and earn another chance to do so in a Game 6 there next Sunday. But still, the ability of the Bruins and other teams and furthermore the determination to take the home crowd out of the game on the road amazes me!
As I write this column, two of the eight conference quarterfinals series in the Stanley Cup playoffs have the road team leading their respective series. The Senators are leading the Canadiens 2-1 with Game 4 to be played in Ottawa Tuesday and the Sharks with a chance to sweep the Canucks at home in Game 4 of their series later in the night. There are also two series tied, with the Wings having tied their series with the Ducks at two with a 3-2 overtime win Monday and the Kings tying their series at two with a 4-3 win over the Blues in LA Monday as well.
The Sharks earned that 3-0 lead by taking two games at Rogers Center in Games 1 and 2 and are just another example of how home advantage means nothing. So as you watch these playoffs and are trying to dissect who may come out on top, don’t rely too heavily on the home team. Teams are just so good now at blocking distractions out and also formulating the perfect ‘road game’. As Lucic pointed out, they’re not just good at it, they long for the chance to shut up the opponents’ fans.
At What Point Are Vigneault And Gillis Shown The Door?
While writing this I’ve been listening to my friend and colleague and really a mentor of mine, Mitch Melnick. He’s been talking to Ray Ferraro of TSN who makes two appearances a week on Mitch’s show “Melnick In The Afternoon”. I was just about ready to rip into Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault and his lack of adapting in series and in games for a reason the Canucks were facing a sweep by the Sharks Tuesday night in San Jose. Well, I stand by that but I also agree with Ferraro who told Mitch that the changes should start from the top and go down if there are major changes in store for the Canucks. Remember, it was Mike Gillis who failed to trade Roberto Luongo last summer and allowed the goalie controversy with him and Cory Schneider to brew, appear to climax at the trade deadline but keep going into the playoffs. No matter what they tell you, Canucks players and of course Luongo and Schneider have been distracted by this and Gillis is to blame. He is also to blame for not putting together a team that can win when it matters most. But his coach can’t seem to coach when it matters most so if the Canucks get swept or lose in the first round, the vote here is for both Gillis and Vigneault to go.
Old Therrien Returns
I am on record as saying that I don’t think at this time next year, Michel Therrien will be head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and Therrien thankfully has started his second demise as a Habs head coach earlier than I expected. Therrien’s tactics of gooning it up after his team had fallen behind by three goals and then allowing them to act like childish losers as time wound down, was much more classless than Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean calling a timeout with 17 seconds left as retaliation for Therrien’s and the Habs’ actions. Therrien should worry more about how he unraveled and subsequently his team did as well than MacLean who has once again proved why he should get the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
The main reason for the Habs turnaround this season was the job done by Marc Bergevin and the way the players changed the culture. Yes Therrien’s coaching helped but his coaching was more for motivating the players. The problem is when they start to become unmotivated or struggle as they have overall for the past few weeks, he loses his cool and his coaching ability declines. I’ve always said Therrien was a bridge coach and if the Habs lose this series, and get off to a slow start next season, that bridge becomes shorter.
Finally, as I’ll do every time I write this column here, I’ll leave you with some music since that is so much a part of “Murphy’s Hockey Law” and myself. Remember to check the track list of each show I host right here at MurphysHockeyLaw.com. Here’s the song for the week for all the road warriors of the NHL!
If you missed “Murphy’s Hockey Law” earlier today, listen to it here:
First hour guests: Louis Jean (TVA Sports), Patrick King (Sportsnet.ca) and Don Brennan (Ottawa Sun)
MHL Show – May 4 – First Hour
Second hour guests: Brian Rolston (Former NHLer), Tracey Myers (CSNChicago.com) and Daryl Evans (LA Kings color commentator KTLK AM 1150)
MHL Show – May 4 – Second Hour
The Stanley Cup playoffs are upon us and that means it’s once again prediction time. Things didn’t go quite as predicted by me when the season began but that’s what the playoffs are for. So here’s my first round predictions and check back here as I will predict round by round until the Stanley Cup is hoisted again.
If you missed “Murphy’s Hockey Law” today, listen to it here:
First hour guests: Jesse Spector (Sporting News NHL columnist), Leah Hextall (NESN) and Jim Johannson (Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations for USA Hockey)
MHL Show – April 27 – First Hour
Second hour guests: George Richards (Miami Herald), Sean Ramjagsingh (EA Lead Producer NHL franchise) and Rob Simpson (NHL Network, XM Sirius host/reporter, AMI-TV Canada host, author)
MHL Show – April 27 – Second Hour
If you missed yesterday’s “Murphy’s Hockey Law” show dedicated to the city and people of Boston, listen to it now:
First hour guests: Bob Sweeney (Executive Director of Bruins Foundation & former NHLer), Lucas Carr (US Army Ranger), Stephen Whyno (The Washington Times) and Grant Sonier (ESPN The Magazine)
MHL Show – April 20 – First Hour
Second hour guests: Mark Spector (Sportsnet.ca), Danny Picard (CSNNE.com, Host of “I’m Just Sayin” on 1510 AM) and Billy Jaffe (NHL Network, MSG and NESN)
MHL Show – April 20 – Second Hour