One Block Can Be The Difference: The Stanley Cup Playoffs in Review
The Stanley Cup Playoffs has always been where history is made. Players put everything on the line. Limits are pushed. Boundaries are crossed. But, nothing compares to throwing yourself in front of 100mph shots 328 times like the New York Rangers have done.
You may not be able to appreciate these statistics but, I’m going to give them to you anyways and maybe when I’m through you’ll understand why I’m in awe of the New York Rangers.
According to ESPN, The New York Rangers are the first team in NHL history to block 328 shots in the playoffs. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh led the team with 54 blocks followed closely by Girardi with 53. Even the franchise player, Marc Staal, has blocked 34 shots.
When you read that, what do you see? numbers? statistics?
As a fan that’s how I would probably look at them too. But, as a hockey player I see something totally different.
As a player I see people putting the team before themselves. I see risks being taken. I see strong defense. I see mind over matter. I see all that, but I feel their pain.
I’ve taken shots to the stomach, ankles, arms, legs, wrists, chest, and back. And every time I am left with a bruise the size of a baseball. But, I only do it maybe once a game.
Throwing yourself in front of a puck traveling at 100 mph is something most people won’t have to do. I guess it’s not in style at the moment. But, I’ll give you an idea of what it is like.
It feels like a combination of being hit by a metal bat and whipped by a belt. Cringing is the right reaction right now.
Also, keep in mind that professionals do not wear a face mask. And the pads they do wear do not cover major areas such as the abdomen.
If you think that I am exaggerating, I invite you to watch Ian Laperriere on the Philadelphia Flyers take a puck to the face while blocking a shot against the New Jersey Devils in Game 5 of the 2010 NHL Playoffs.
Just a forewarning, only watch it if you can handle it.
It may have been painful for Laperriere to block that shot. But, what can’t be ignored is the Flyers won that game. That is the difference blocking shots can make.
While blocking shots isn’t easy, blocking shots is sometimes necessary.
Even goalies understand how much of a difference players blocking shots can be. And that is exactly why the goalie for the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur has been the center of controversy.
Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup the Devils lost to the Rangers in a 3-0 shutout. A major reason why the outcome was the way it was because of how many shots the Rangers blocked. Martin Brodeur took notice.
“They’re hot at blocking shots.” said Martin Brodeur, “We might be able to hurt a few guys (by) hitting one-timers in the foot and their head or something.”
Brodeur might’ve stepped over the line. It isn’t okay to intentionally harm other players. And believe me I am not trying to justify what he said.
But, fans need to understand why he said that. He saw his season slipping away. When you see that happening extreme measures are taken.
Players understand that there is that risk.
With consequences potentially very high, why do it? It is really quite simple. Because it’s the cup.
Blocking a shot can mean the difference. It can mean either holding the cup above your head. Or it can mean just being second place.
You do the math and figure out what a hockey player is going to do.