Apr 19, 2001
I seem to write more often after my L.A. Kings post strong victories. Given the last 2 playoff games vs. the Hockey Town Boys, you might be seeing a few extra articles from me.
What is the role of an enforcer during the playoffs? Does it help or hurt that the extracurricular activities have been completely muted? Given that there are plenty of players from all walks of life taking stupid penalties: Felix Potvin punching a Wing in the back of the head in Game 4, Martin Lapointe taking 3 minors in the same night, and Ian Laperriere taking 3 minors in Game 3; why do not we see even a little more rough stuff after the whistle?
Maybe someone can correct me, but I have not seen even 1 fighting major given out so far in the Western Conference in Round 1. Then again, after the one game that featured 3 paired fighting majors in one Devils-Canes game, there are no others in the Eastern Conference as well. Is this just mirroring the trend of less fighting in hockey? That of course can be debated and analyzed in another article.
Given the dynamics of games are still about creating and sustaining your team's momentum and trying to knock your opponent off theirs, I believe the enforcer should have a more active role with his team during the playoffs than he currently does, as he has helped his team get as far as they have. I know what you may be thinking - a Donald Brashear, Darren McCarty, Georges Laraque or a Lapointe have some other dimensions to their game that get them more ice time compared to a Stu Grimson. Yet, the physical challenge of a fight changes the atmosphere as we have all seen, and the playoffs should not be an exception.
Of course, coaches should continue to preach staying out of the penalty box as a solo effort and staying away from the dumb penalties (see: Chris Chelios and his NHL recognized $1,000 stick work in Game 2), but they are missing a weapon he and some others judicially used during the regular season. Of course, the "Two To Tango" rule makes it a bit more unlikely to see a main event break out between Grimson and McCarty, yet with their coaches' blessings, enforcers should be able to play their brand of hockey just like in the regular season. Any former/current enforcers have a take on this?
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