There are two controversial issues in the National Hockey League this week and the general managers touched on both at their meeting in Toronto on Tuesday. Now it's my turn, so here are my thoughts on goalie protection and the 1-3-1:
SOG: 33 | +/-: 6
I don't mind the fact that Lucic didn't get a suspension. I'm a true believer in old-fashioned hockey and I do believe goalies should be protected, but they are protected in their blue paint, which is the no-touch zone. Yes, there is a rule that you can't run goaltenders, and yes, you have to protect goaltenders because there are only 60 in the League, but the goalies should also have to protect themselves.
When Miller came out of the crease and decided to play a player's role, a skater's role, he put himself into a dangerous and precarious position where he knew he could get hit or bumped. He had to know that some type of altercation could happen. And it did.
Could Lucic have avoided him? That's up for debate. Most will say yes, some will say no, but the goalies have the most equipment of anybody on the ice, and if anybody should be OK with getting hit it is going to be the goalie.
GAA: 2.86 | SVP: 0.909
Coming out that far to play that puck was a price he paid for making the wrong decision.
Now he's out with a concussion, but maybe he just needs to sit out anyway to reevaluate his game and watch tape so he can come back and be the Miller that I know and love and that everybody knows and loves. He has not been that that dominant, world-class goalie we know him as.
So, yes, it's a controversial hit, but if he comes back and gets back to the high level of play that we're accustomed to seeing from him, then Buffalo should thank Milan Lucic for activating Ryan Miller.
In the middle '90s, the New Jersey Devils implemented the neutral zone trap. It was not a favorite of National Hockey League players because it was a boring style to play and a boring style to watch. The goals went down dramatically.
Because of that the League implemented new rules, left out the red lines, and basically changed the dynamics of the game to eliminate the trap.
But now Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher comes out with his version of the defensive system called the 1-3-1, or a trap on steroids. I truly respect Boucher, his coaching style, his passion for the game and his knowledge of the game, but I don't like a system that is going to create boredom, decrease scoring and eliminate excitement in the game.
To tell you the truth, I thought the Flyers did exactly what they should. They have the puck. Nobody is coming at them so there is no need to advance the puck or do anything to threaten losing the puck.
To do that like Tampa did in its own building, that is not what the NHL needs. No one wants to watch you sit in the neutral zone and wait and wait and wait.
When coaches go into road buildings they always say, 'Let's play a boring simple game and get out with two points.' If you go to Tampa and play against the 1-3-1, you can play as boring a game as ever and take your chances in a shootout with your top players.
I believe in having coaching tactics. That's all well and good. But I also believe this game has to sell tickets. It has to continue to be exciting hockey as the National Hockey League has created the last couple of years with the rule changes. This takes me back to the mid-'90s when the NHL got a bad reputation for being a boring sport by watching 1-0 games and 2-1 games. It was an epidemic then, and I don't want to see that come back.
I believe the 1-3-1 will create that lack of excitement and low-scoring games. The NHL doesn't need that.
What's more is that the talent that is on the Lightning is extremely good. This is a team with Vinny Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. This is a team that has an extremely smart and aggressive coach, one of the better young coaches in the NHL. They have an ability to create so much excitement with the high-caliber of team they have, and the 1-3-1 takes away from that.
If they want to sell tickets down there, they better be careful that the visiting team doesn't come down and bore their teams to death because of the system the home team is playing. Remember, the visiting team isn't the one that has to create excitement for the fans.
You might not like what I think, but that's just my opinion.