I've stayed away from talking about this years playoffs because of the absence of the Buffalo Sabres but it's time to break the silence. There is plenty of debate about the four overtime game that was played on Sunday night in Dallas. Whether it be the penalties that were called, or not called, or the length of the game there are people on both sides of the argument. The key factor is to look at that game as an impartial hockey fan because the opinion of a Stars or Sharks fan will be completely biased one way or another.
I have a hard time believing that anyone who watched that hockey game could say it was anything but a great hockey game. It was amazing to watch both teams battle as hard as they did and for as long as they did. To end a game in any other way would be inhumane, the people who argue that they want to see a shootout end a game like that are simply not hockey fans. Before you go getting all huffy about me questioning whether or not you're a fan please hear me out. If you are truly a hockey fan you probably have a favorite team, put your team in the place of the San Jose Sharks and tell me how upset you would be if your team was eliminated by a shootout.
There are also people who favor having the teams play four-on-four in the overtime just like they do in the regular season. I'm not a fan of four-on-four at any juncture of the season so I am certainly not for it in the playoffs. If they want to change the rules to four-on-four than change them for the entire game. It makes absolutely no sense to me why the NHL insists on changing the rules of the game at the most critical juncture of the game. I understand the need to have a winner but when it compromises the integrity of the game, I take issue with that. The NHL should not and can not compromise that integrity further by putting on such an exhibition in the playoffs.
The debate about the referees putting away their whistles late in a close game or in overtime has gone on for as long as I remember. As a little kid I remember questioning why they didn't make calls late in the game. What happened last night goes in the completely opposite direction and it is hypocritical for the same people who want calls made to question why the referee will make a call. The NHL fought so hard to get that part of the game cleared up and although it still needs some work they have moved closer to accomplishing that goal. I remember a time when you could do everything and anything to your opponent without any worry of being called for a penalty, is that what we want? I can only speak for myself when I say that I don't want that to happen, in fact I hope it goes more in the other direction and they start calling more penalties.
As a Sabres fan that game was quite painful to watch at it's conclusion. Ex-Sabre defenenseman Brian Campbell sat helplessly in the penalty box while the hated Dallas Stars won the game in four overtimes. It went a little bit longer than game six in 1999, the famous "NO GOAL" game, but it still brought back some painful memories for me. It only made it worse for some Sabres fans because Brian Campbell, who was a fan favorite in Buffalo, sat in the box serving a two minute penalty. In the end the Sharks have nobody to blame but themselves after failing to create any opportunity on their own power play in the third overtime.
If you are a true hockey fan than you understand that the game that was played last night was an instant classic. The only thing I would change is the team that won but beyond that it was great for hockey. We can only hope to have another one in the next round or better yet in the Stanley Cup.