The Hump-day Hater

Who’s laying the hate in the league.

Martin Gerber

A week ago today, the newest Toronto goaltender was suspended three games, without pay, for violating rule 41.4 category III. In case you don’t have your pocket NHL rulebook with you (I always keep one handy), that rule states the following:

“Any player or goalkeeper who, by his actions, physically threatens an official by shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.”

With the visiting Washington Capitals trailing 2-1 in the final minute of regulation, Brooks Laich managed to shove the puck and Gerber into the net together. Gerber got up and immediately charged referee Mike Leggo. Gerber then “bumped the official lightly before shooting the puck in his direction,” according to the Canadian Press.

“I’m sorry for me, for losing my cool there,’‘ said Gerber in an interview after the game. “I got shoved in the net. That’s why (the puck) went in. I was upset, shot the puck against the boards and after that he tossed me out for I don’t know what.

“I shouldn’t have done it. That’s obvious. But there’s not much you can do now.”

Great apology, Marty. I almost heard the sincerity…then I realized: nope…just the wind.

Gerber is eligible to return Friday when the Leafs travel to Philadelphia.

It’s debatable

A debatable issue around the league.

Penalty shot/power play choice

This was something that popped up in John Buccigross’s mailbag the other day.

It was asked by a Pittsburgh native about Evgeni Malkin’s penalty shot a while back against the Atlanta Thrashers. The question at hand is whether or not the league should allow the coaches to choose if they would rather the player take the shot or opt for a power play. Buccigross has said for many years that he would “love for the NHL to adopt such a rule.”

So nothing new there, right?

Well what intrigued me about it was that later a few games later, Ruslan Fedotenko was presented with a similar scenario. He had a clear path to the net and was hooked up by an approaching defender. A penalty was called but no penalty shot was awarded.

This presents an interesting situation. If Evgeni Malkin is the man hooked up on a breakaway and is given a penalty shot, then not having the rule isn’t so bad. But if it’s someone like Ruslan Fedotenko, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have in hand. Then again, maybe you don’t convert on the man-advantage either…it could turn out to be a lose-lose.

One thing’s for sure: it’s debatable.

I did what?

The bonehead play of the week.

Jerry Pollastrone, UNH defenseman

The University of New Hampshire can honestly say they played their hearts out on Sunday’s Frozen Four qualifier against Boston University. In the final minutes, nay seconds, of the game in Manchester, N.H., BU was given a power play. With less than 15 seconds to go in regulation, BU forward Jason Lawrence found the puck on his stick on the goal line, near side post.

Knowing time was ticking away, Lawrence just flung the puck toward the other side of the cage, aiming for a teammate’s outstretched stick. Enter Pollastrone. The poor kid had the right idea by putting his hands down in the crease to prevent the pass. However, Pollastrone, in an attempt to clear the puck to the far corner, punched it into his own net.

The goal was the final tally with BU winning 2-1. The Frozen Four is set with said BU Terriers, Miami (OH), Vermont, and Bemidji State (and you think your Final Four bracket looks bad, no one saw those teams coming). Frozen Four play begins Apr. 9 in Washington D.C.

Head-to-head

What two hockey entities are going after each other.

Clarkson and Avery

Well, technically, it was just Clarkson and a ragdoll.

Now I know I’ve been rather harsh on Avery in past months, but I can honestly say that he’s getting a pretty rough ride. Whether it’s been brought upon him over his antics through the years isn’t the point. He’s just getting hit all the time.

And maybe that’s justified…the Eastern Conference remembers what a pain in the hockey pants Avery has been. A video of the following skirmish was posted on FF yesterday, but originally posted locally by Empty Netters.

David Clarkson encountered Avery in the third period of Monday night’s game in New Jersey. The Devils were trailing 3-0 when Clarkson, wanting to get his team going, was tricked into dropping his gloves. Figuring there was no turning back, Clarkson just began yanking Avery around by the collar of his jersey. Avery never dropped his gloves.

Clarkson received a game misconduct; Avery received two minutes for roughing. Now I don’t know what really happened at ice level, but here’s Clarkson’s side of the story:

“I was trying to spark the team,” Clarkson said to the Associated Press. “He had one hand cocked back. If he throws the punch and hits me, I’m the guy that loses. Then I’m the one who winds up getting kicked out. I’m sure they didn’t want me going after him again so they kicked me out.

“I don’t know if it’s irritating. They won the game. He didn’t want to fight. I’m not going to say anything bad about the guy. He obviously did his job.”

As for Avery, it appears he’s getting discipline. (Avery + discipline = ????)

“I don’t think that there’s anything to gain by doing anything at that point,” Avery said in a post-game interview. “It certainly takes discipline for sure. You fight for your team and for your teammates. At that point I didn’t need to fight for either of them.”

I’m impressed, Mr. Avery.

Barrel of Monkeys

What team has really come together.

St. Louis

The Blues are on a five-game winning streak, going 7-2-1 in their last ten. This winning streak includes back-to-back’s with last week’s barrel o’ monkeys (and St. Louis’s color rival) The Columbus Blue Jackets. Vancouver, Los Angeles and Calgary also fell to the Blues. Three of those four teams are above St. Louis in the standings.

Despite Keith Tkachuk having a somewhat sub-par year (42 pts -12), the Blues have seen output from center Brad Boyes (30 goals, 33 assists, 63 points). But the standout has been 32-year-old goaltender Chris Mason.

Although his 23-20-6 record doesn’t jump out at the casual eye, any quick glance at the rest of the column will be sure to grab you by your collar (unless your Sean Avery, in which case you only need David Clarkson). Mason has a 2.42 GAA and a .917 save percentage along with 5 shutouts.

Suddenly the Central Division doesn’t just contain the Detroit Red Wings. Prior to last night’s Anaheim/Edmonton game (which obviously can’t be controlled by St. Louis), all 5 teams in the Central Division were in the playoff picture. Great turn-around, Central.

Regarding said Anaheim/Edmonton game, the Ducks defeated the Oilers to leapfrog St. Louis and reclaim the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues travel to Chicago tonight.

St. Louis, you’ve come together like a barrel of monkeys.

Hope this week’s column was informative and entertaining for all. I’ll be back next week: same time, same place.