Adam asked a month ago (sorry for the delay, I answer every question people ask, it just sometimes takes a while)
It’s probably hard to quantify, but I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the impact on individual teams’ playoff performance by the stark difference in penalty enforcement from the regular season. I’ve theorized that teams like the Blackhawks, that play a relatively “clean” game are at a disadvantage during the playoffs, given how much goes uncalled, whereas teams like the Ducks, who regularly play a “dirty” game are at an advantage. Further, when teams aren’t used to playing the interference-heavy, no-one-allowed-in-the-crease gameplay of the playoffs, they likely stand a higher chance of being called for penalties, since they aren’t quite as good at masking dirty play. Ultimately, I think the non-reffing in the playoffs really damages the game and puts the players at unnecessarily high risk of injury. And now that the refs have apparently been given the directive to “crack down” on certain penalty enforcement, I’m imagining the playoffs to be even further from the game we see during the regular season. – ADAM
You’re right, it’s extremely tough to quantify. I’m not even sure how to go about it.
For one it’s tough to determine how “dirty” teams are, like when players are beat, every team hooks, slashes, etc to slow the opponent down. It’s not like one team is committing 75 uncalled penalties while the other team commits 5 uncalled penalties. I would imagine the amount of uncalled penalties between both teams would be so close that it almost washes out. The team that got away with slightly more stuff in the game would receive a slight advantage, but that advantage, I would assume, would be extremely low in overall impact on the games outcomes.
It’s also hard because the playoffs in general are a crapshoot. Luck and variance impacts the game so much. A series could come down to a puck that hits the crossbar in overtime and then the other team scores. Outcomes like this is what makes it so hard to quantify the impact of refs swallowing the whistle because the game comes down to so much luck. Number guys and NHL coaches both agree on the huge impact of luck in hockey.
If no one is allowed in the crease in the playoffs, just typing out loud here, then that might benefit players like Kane and Panarin that shoot more from the outside, because they have such lethal shots that they don’t have to be close to the net to score. It might damage physical players that attack the net if they are the ones being attacked. Then again, the physical players might be better at fighting through the slashes and hooks.
But I do agree with your assessment that what the refs do in the playoffs is bad for the game. Every league is getting faster. The NBA and NFL keep moving away from physical and gritty to skilled, open, and free-flowing. The NHL being one of the least progressive sports in the world, should eventually get there. I think the game will be a lot better if players had more space to operate and there were less interference, hooking, slashing, holding, etc.
- The NHL playoffs should be a more open and free-flowing game to allow skill players to showcase their talent and give the more talented team a better chance of winning
- Although not calling penalties probably has an impact on the outcome, I would guess that the impact is so low that it should NOT affect or “swing” a series one way or another