The 2012-13 NHL Playoffs
Or: What the NHL Learned from Watching the NBA All these Years


 


If we can watch the NBA and question the calls/decisions by its referees, then I think we can certainly do the same in regards to the NHL. Why? Because as important as free throws can be in the NBA, the power play might even have more meaning in the NHL. Even more glaring in the NHL might be the non-calls (which can never be quantified by the sports economist geeks attempting to break all sports downs by numbers) as these show that the idea of "letting them play" only goes so far...

Special thanks to Phil for providing all of the first round stats.

ROUND 1 - Western Conference

Wild vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks win 4-1. Totals: CHI - 20 Penalties for 40 Penalty Minutes, 23:15 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals; MIN - 18 Penalties for 44 Penalty Minutes, 32:35 Minutes of Power Play Time, 0 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 9:19 minutes of Power Play Time in MIN advantage.

Red Wings vs. Ducks

Red Wings win 4-3. Totals: DET - 28 Penalties for 67 Penalty Minutes, 40:05 Minutes of Power Play Time, 8 Power Play Goals; ANA - 28 Penalties for 59 Penalty Minutes, 38:38 Minutes of Power Play Time, 7 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 2:07 minutes of Power Play Time in DET advantage.

Sharks vs. Canucks

Sharks win 4-0. Totals: SJS - 13 Penalties for 26 Penalty Minutes, 35:36 Minutes of Power Play Time, 7 Power Play Goals; VAN - 28 Penalties for 66 Penalty Minutes, 15:36 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 20:00 minutes of Power Play Time in SJS advantage.

Kings vs. Blues

Kings win 4-2. Totals: LAK - 21 Penalties for 42 Penalty Minutes, 22:57 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals; STL - 19 Penalties for 40 Penalty Minutes, 30:08 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 7:51 minutes of Power Play Time in STL advantage.

ROUND 1 - Eastern Conference

Islanders vs. Penguins

Penguins win 4-2. Totals: PIT - 33 Penalties for 112 Penalty Minutes, 30:20 Minutes of Power Play Time, 7 Power Play Goals; NYI - 34 Penalties for 127 Penalty Minutes, 36:39 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 6:19 minutes of Power Play Time in NYI advantage.

Senators vs. Canadiens

Senators win 4-1. Totals: OTT - 41 Penalties for 162 Penalty Minutes, 37:14 Minutes of Power Play Time, 6 Power Play Goals; MON - 50 Penalties for 185 Penalty Minutes, 31:35 Minutes of Power Play Time, 3 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 6:19 minutes of Power Play Time in OTT advantage.

Rangers vs. Capitals

Rangers win 4-3. Totals: NYR - 21 Penalties for 42 Penalty Minutes, 49:27 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals; WAS - 34 Penalties for 76 Penalty Minutes, 26:26 Minutes of Power Play Time, 3 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 23:01 minutes of Power Play Time in NYR advantage.

Maple Leafs vs. Bruins

Bruins win 4-3. Totals: BOS - 29 Penalties for 64 Penalty Minutes, 32:49 Minutes of Power Play Time, 3 Power Play Goals; TOR - 31 Penalties for 84 Penalty Minutes, 32:55 Minutes of Power Play Time, 5 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 0:06 minutes of Power Play Time in TOR advantage.

Notes: These NHL playoffs have been much, much more interesting than their NBA counterparts. There was only one sweep (Sharks over Canucks), but that came by way of a heavily one-sided officiating outcome. Meanwhile, in the 47 games played, 17 went in overtime - that's 36% of the games.

Then there was the controversies. There was the brawl in Game 3 of the OTT-MON series which led to, well, no action by the league despite 236 penalty minutes being handed out. Then, when the Capitals lost Game 7 to the Rangers, the league's leading goal scorer Alexandre Ovechkin came right out and said what I'm often thinking: “The refereeing... You understand it yourself. How can there be no penalties at all (on one team) during the playoffs? I am not saying there was a phone call from (the league), but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings. You know, the lockout, escrow, the League needs to make profit... I don't know whether the refs were predisposed against us or the League. But to not give obvious penalties (against the Capitals), while for us any little thing was immediately penalized...”

All of this set up something rather interesting for Round 2. Four of the six "Original Six" teams remain alive. Plus, there are three very area-specific match-ups: The Southwest is covered with San Jose-Los Angeles, the Northeast has New York-Boston (thanks to the Bruins "miracle" Game 7 comeback in the final two minutes), and the Midwest is Detroit-Chicago (and the added bonus of this being the final time the two rivals can meet in the playoffs once the Red Wings switch divisions next season).

Round 2 - Western Conference

Red Wings vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks win 4-3. Totals: CHI - 36 Penalties for 80 Penalty Minutes, 40:01 Minutes of Power Play Time, 4 Power Play Goals; DET - 34 Penalties for 68 Penalty Minutes, 42:55 Minutes of Power Play Time, 1 Power Play Goal. Total difference of 2:54 minutes of Power Play Time in DET advantage.

Sharks vs. Kings

Kings win 4-3. Totals: LAK - 28 Penalties for 66 Penalty Minutes, 33:01 Minutes of Power Play Time, 5 Power Play Goals; SJS - 22 Penalties for 44 Penalty Minutes, 41:38 Minutes of Power Play Time, 4 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 8:37 minutes of Power Play Time in SJS advantage.

Round 2 - Eastern Conference

Senators vs. Penguins

Penguins win 4-1. Totals: PIT - 27 Penalties for 54 Penalty Minutes, 35:12 Minutes of Power Play Time, 6 Power Play Goals; OTT - 35 Penalties for 86 Penalty Minutes, 29:16 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 6:36 minutes of Power Play Time in PIT advantage.

Rangers vs. Bruins

Bruins win 4-1. Totals: BOS - 22 Penalties for 50 Penalty Minutes, 21:39 Minutes of Power Play Time, 4 Power Play Goals; NYR - 18 Penalties for 42 Penalty Minutes, 28:06 Minutes of Power Play Time, 2 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 7:07 minutes of Power Play Time in NYR advantage.

Notes: Round two wasn't nearly as shocking as the opening round. All of the higher seeds advanced, though it took two of them (CHI and LAK) seven games to get the job done. The number of overtime games dramatically decreased as well as there were only 5 OT games in the 24 games played (21% of the games), though the Blackhawks did win its Game 7 in OT, thanks in part to a controversial call near the end of regulation which stripped the 'Hawks of a go-ahead goal.

Also, penalty time-wise, there wasn't as many disparities as in Round One. The only winning club to amass more power play time than its opponents were the Penguins, who in 5 games had more power play time than the victorious Kings were granted in seven games.

This now makes for two Conference Finals matchups featuring all four of the previous four Stanley Cup champs: Kings, Bruins, Blackhawks, and Penguins. Mere coincidence, or money grab in a post-lockout NHL?


Look, an NHL commentator (and former player and coach Mike Milbury) complaining about poor officiating. But more importantly, watch - and listen to - former player Jeremy Roenick after Milbury's comments...then watch the video below. Notice a change from last year to this?


Round 3 - Western Conference

Kings vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks win 4-1. Totals: CHI - 19 Penalties for 40 Penalty Minutes, 24:34 Minutes of Power Play Time, 1 Power Play Goal; LAK - 17 Penalties for 34 Penalty Minutes, 29:50 Minutes of Power Play Time, 1 Power Play Goal. Total difference of 5:16 minutes of Power Play Time in LAK advantage.

Round 3 - Eastern Conference

Bruins vs. Penguins

Bruins win 4-0. Totals: BOS - 23 Penalties for 49 Penalty Minutes, 25:53 Minutes of Power Play Time, 0 Power Play Goals; PIT - 21 Penalties for 56 Penalty Minutes, 29:03 Minutes of Power Play Time, 0 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 4:10 minutes of Power Play Time in PIT advantage.

Notes: Two rather one-sided Conference Finals with no team taking advantage of their power play opportunities. Speaking of which, the whistles did not appear to be in the Penguins advantage for the first time in these playoffs, and consequently, the Bruins are the ones advancing to the Finals. After seeing the Islanders get 34 penalties in six games against the Pens, and the Senators get 35 in their five games against them, the Bruins were only called for 23 penalties in four games. Was it a difference maker? It seemed as if the Bruins got under the Penguins' skin in Game One - and the refs allowed them to - and the Pens couldn't shake them for the rest of the series.

This sets up the first "Original Six" Stanley Cup Finals since 1979, and the first time these two storied franchises will have ever met in the Finals. Think the ratings will be good considering the strong following these two franchises possess? Not too bad for a league coming off a lockout shortened season, eh?

Stanley Cup Finals

Bruins vs. Blackhawks

Blackhawks win 4-2. Totals: CHI - 23 Penalties for 49 Penalty Minutes, 30:35 Minutes of Power Play Time, 1 Power Play Goal; BOS - 24 Penalties for 51 Penalty Minutes, 28:23 Minutes of Power Play Time, 3 Power Play Goals. Total difference of 2:12 minutes of Power Play Time in CHI advantage.

Notes: Game 1 was a real humdinger. Triple OT, and more importantly to the league and broadcast partners NBC, it was a huge ratings win. Ratings were up 100% from last year's Game 1, and were the best Game 1 ratings for the Stanley Cup Finals since 1997 between the Red Wings and Flyers.

Then three of the first four games played went into OT with the final two games coming to down to "pull the goalie for an extra attacker" situations - including the Blackhawks' Game 6 rally to win the Cup (which was a bit a miracle given that the refs seemed to make sure the Bruins had every early advantage possible to win the game - giving them 4 straight power plays after getting none in Game 5). These close games coupled with the hard-core fan-bases associated with each franchise turned the series into the most watched/highest rated Stanley Cup Finals since 1997.

Meanwhile, can you believe the Blackhawks are claiming poor? That they're losing money despite having recently won a Stanley Cup and now just captured another? It's true...(well, it's true they're claiming they're losing money, but whether they really are is another matter altogether).

Who else lost money on the Blackhawks' win? Chicago businesses (again, supposedly) as many employees - perhaps 25% - failed to show up or arrived late for work after the clinching Game 6. Why? Were people really worn out from watching the game on TV? I do not understand this bizarre mentality of fans - the "we" syndrome (which I discuss more thoroughly in my book). I'm sorry, but just because you choose to root for the Blackhawks (in this situation) doesn't mean you personally won the Stanley Cup.

And while multiple people are shot and murdered on a weekly basis in Chicago, the city will spend millions on a victory parade for the team. Ah, priorities.