Lets play the what if game. What if the Jets made the playoffs? How would they do?
The local media is quick to point out that the Jets “lack the talent” to compete with the top teams in the NHL but if this first round of the nHL playoffs have told us anything its that talent isn’t as important as toughness.
Its clear you need talent to make the postseason but its toughness that keeps you there. The past few years have proved that toughness will trump talent almost every single time.
The Vancouver Canucks have as much if not more talent than most teams in the NHL yet they seem to fold up shop each and every playoff. Teams have realized that Vancouver lacks the grit needed to grind out a 7 game series. They hit and pound the Canucks into submission and Vancouver has no way to answer.
Look at the Penguins this season. They have more offensive talent than any other team in the NHL yet Philly is destroying them just because the Pens lack the ability to answer the call.
Its like there are two separate seasons in the NHL. In the regular season it is wide open and the team with the most firepower will usually win the game. Yet in the post season things change. The game gets tighter, the refs let more go and teams realize this. Teams go after the stars of the other team and beat them into submission.
The Senators got destroyed in their first game against the Rangers but now are back in the mix only because they got physical. The Red Wings are being dominated like never before just because the Predators set the tone with big hits and rough play.
Now where does this leave the Jets? How would they do? Would they be able to compete?
The answer is a resounding mess. The Jets may not have had the firepower or finesse to compete with the top teams during the regular season but you put this group of guys into a playoff situation where teams have more leeway for physical play then I would like the Jets chances.
They may not have the likes of an Ovechkin or a Crosby or the Sedins but this playoffs have proved that those guys aren’t as important as the guys who can combine the physical with the skillful.
The Jets this year were a team that didn’t lack physical players. The likes of Tanner Glass, Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Chris Thorburn, Andrew Ladd, and others on the Jets roster would have flourished in these playoffs.
Its not about who has the most skill its become who can hit the other teams stars harder. The NHL has decided to let a lot go (Shea Weber incident for example) and now are having to reap what they sowed. Its open season on the skilled players and thats the way the NHL wants it.
For the Jets to succeed they need to find a balance between skill and toughness. They need to figure out how to win enough games to make the playoffs then just flip that switch into goon mode. Thats how you win in the NHL. Thats how you win in the playoffs.
And thats the way the NHL wants it.
Listen I love toughness, I think fighting is part of the game but the NHL needs to not have a set of rules for the regular season and a different set for the playoffs. It should be about skill not who can beat up the other team’s stars more. Teams are just going after each other and in the NHL’s eyes this is ok for one reason and one reason only, ratings.
This weekend was the most violent playoff weekend in a long time and the ratings have never been higher. The people like the physical play and the NHL likes it when the people like it.
The NHL wants the best of both worlds. They want player safety and they want big ratings. Sadly the NHL thinks it has to be one or the other. If Shanny were to enforce the rules on the books and paid no attention to the name on the back or the logo on the front then they could truly protect the players. The problem is they don’t and then the players take it as its open season.
These playoffs have been fun to watch but at what cost? Have the sacrificed the integrity and the safety of the players just for a few rating points?
I hope not.
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