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Is obstruction back? Some Penguins say it is

Feb 10, 2012, 11:19 AM EDT

David Clarkson, Joe Vitale, Brooks Orpik AP

If you’ve been noticing that scoring is down this season, you’re not alone. There are a lot more 2-1 games than you’ll find 4-3 games it seems and that’s got some people wondering if the NHL’s old ways of clogging everything up around the ice are back.

One of those teams curious about that being the case is the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have seen their power play opportunities decrease drastically since the start of January and they think that officials are letting the clutching and grabbing slide a bit.

Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review hears it from Brooks Orpik about how things used to be and how they are now.

“After the (2004-05) lockout, if a guy chipped a puck by you, you couldn’t touch him,” he said. “If you did, it was a penalty every single time. You just had to turn and go get it.”

That much is absolutely true, especially when you look at the number of penalties called in that first season after the lockout. Orpik says it’s different now though.

“(The NHL) didn’t tell us they were going to go easy on us (defensemen),” Orpik said. “But it’s pretty obvious that it has changed.”

Finding that balance between too many and too few penalties is hard. The NHL likes scoring to be up a bit as goals get people excited and jumping out of their chairs for one reason or another.

That said, they don’t want the games to turn into dump-and-chase fests either. Having a 2-1 game is great if the pace is breakneck and the action is intense but it’s up to the officials to make sure the ice stays open to allow for that.

  1. fishtacos4me - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    Leave it to the same team that employs crybaby Crosby to now start crying about obstruction. Perhaps they should focus more on their own inability to skate and score than crying to the media.

    • jpelle82 - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      moron. they are talking to a defensman who aknowledges that he is able to hold and obstruct his opponents more…that would be to his advantage, not disadvantage. if he is complaining, the complaint would be that they should be penalizing defensman more…including himself.

      “I don’t necessarily think the play has gotten cleaner,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “(But) there are few power-play opportunities out there for every team.”

      • fishtacos4me - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM

        This is all about setting the stage for the excuses when the Penguins get eliminated in the first round. Heard it all before fanboys….face it though…with or without the golden child, the Penguins are starting the excuses.

    • billvill - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Actually reading the article is high overrated.

    • billvill - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      Actually reading the article is highly overrated.

    • pittman76 - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM

      Hey fishtacos4me, this isn’t just the Penguins, it’s a league-wide issue. Goal scoring has been on a steady decline the last 7 years as have the penalties. And the writer of the newspaper article that’s linked in this blog didn’t get the idea from Orpik, he went in the locker room knowing the stats before asking him about it. Orpik was asked some questions about it and he gave his honest opinion and the opinion is validated by the numbers. Maybe you ought to put away you Penguins hate and try to learn something that is a valid issue with the state of the game. These are NHL numbers, not just Penguins numbers:

      PP opportunities: (per game)
      05-06: 5.85
      06-07: 4.85
      07-08: 4.28
      08-09: 4.16
      09-10: 3.71
      10-11: 3.54
      11-12: 3.47

      Goals per team: (per game)
      05-06: 3.08
      06-07: 2.95
      07-08: 2.78
      08-09: 2.91
      09-10: 2.84
      10-11: 2.79

      • kotteintheslot - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        I hate the penguins but you cant argue numbers….

      • johninpa - Feb 10, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        Great comment, Pittman. I think most of us watching hockey enjoy watching good skaters do their thing, not watch a bunch of grabbing because a defensive player can’t keep up. Sadly, fishtacos won’t understand this.

  2. travishenryskid - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Is this really even a question? The NHL has reverted back to a game that looks pre-lockout and it’s a shame. There are an awful lot of boring hockey games these days. Probably about 80% of goals are garbage goals. The NHL would be smart to address this problem.

  3. richie500 - Feb 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Brooks Orpik doesn’t talk much, burt when he does it is thoughtful,intelligent comments. He sees the change happening, and I hope hockey doesn’t go back to the boring Devils play of years past!

  4. billvill - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    D’oh!

  5. guinsrule - Feb 10, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Maybe the league is purposely trying slow the game down to decrease the growing number of head injuries.

    • hockeyfan1701 - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      An interesting thought for sure.

  6. bananaballs - Feb 10, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    I have noticed this the last few years and especially in the playoffs. It’s quite frustrating when it’s supposed to be against the rules but they’re letting it slide. By now it’s nothing new and the post lockout reffing is more foreign than the pre lockout style.

  7. dcent87 - Feb 10, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    maby, just maby, its just that the penguins are not as good as they or their fans ego think they are

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