The St. Louis Blues are pretty good, overall, when it comes to embellishing as far as not doing it. The rest of the league is starting to pick up some bad habits.
The St. Louis Blues have always liked to play with an edge. Whether they were trying to be big and physical like in the David Backes days or a smaller, faster team, like recently, they still like to walk that line.
When you do that, you will get teams that try to get under your skin and draw penalties. Unfortunately, the Blues seem to run into a lot of teams that try to force the referee’s hand. In other words, they seem to see a lot more diving than they should.
Let’s be honest here. This is a league wide issue as it becomes more prevalent. It is not to the levels of soccer yet, but it is getting there and that is a terrible thing.
Before I get any fans thinking I’m a soccer hater, nothing could be further from the truth. I am a Liverpool fan, a fan of AC Milan if/when I can see them and season ticket holder to St. Louis FC. I played soccer for over half my life.
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Just because you love something does not mean you put on the blinders, though. I cannot stand the way the professional game has gone toward the theatrical, coming up just shy of the levels of professional wrestling (another thing I’m a fan of, by the way).
Players flop around like they’ve had a limb severed off and then get up as though they were the Black Knight from Monty Python. Tis but a scratch, apparently.
Now, the NHL is slowly tiptoeing toward that slope and they need to find a way to come back. We already have enough penalties called where nothing, or very little, happened. We do not need opponents trying to fake out the officials just to gain an advantage. I’d like to think hockey was better than that.
Hockey sure likes to think it’s better than that. I see memes all over social media talking about how manly hockey players are compared to soccer players and all sorts of derogatory things about the sport. I’ve never quite understood it since hockey fans and soccer fans always feel in the minority, so you would think they would band together, but I digress.
Despite this supposed difference, hockey players, especially in the NHL now, are trying to draw calls by flopping. As mentioned, the Blues seem to run afoul of this more often than not.
Winnipeg was guilty of it a small amount in the first round series of 2019. Nashville was doing it like crazy when the Blues faced them in the second round of 2017.
P.K. Subban seems to be enemy number one when it comes to that garbage. He would fall if you breathed on him heavily. Unfortunately, it was 50/50 whether a penalty would be called and that’s too high a percentage.
Subban’s teammates picked up on this and the Predators were dropping like leaves in the fall. The Dallas Stars are picking up on the habit as well.
Ben Bishop acted like he took a right hook to the jaw when David Perron brushed him in Game 2 of the second round. “Little bit of a dive by (Ben) Bishop in my opinion,” said Craig Berube as reported by the Post-Dispatch.
Jamie Benn is notorious for flopping against the Blues and has done so in this particular playoff series. He did it to the Blues several years ago too. Upon review of the footage, Benn did take the butt end of the stick to the midsection, but there was not enough force to draw the reaction he gave.
Esa Lindell looked like he had been felled with a mighty axe the way he went down after Robert Bortuzzo crosschecked him in Game 3. That was likely one of the few times where both players getting penalties was justified – to me it’s either a penalty for the infraction or for the dive, not both – but Lindell just looked foolish the way he flopped around.
None of this is to say the Blues are not guilty either. There have been times where guys wearing the Note went to the ice rather easily and drew a penalty from it. I do not agree with that behavior, but a lot of players do it. There is a difference between going down when you feel a stick around your waist or legs and blatantly flopping though.
Lindell’s arms shot up in the air like he was fighting a gale-force wind. Your body does not do that naturally when you are crosschecked and the announcers even said that.
Again, I’m not picking on the rest of the league like the Blues are angels. You can only see what you see though and you tend to not see things against your own team.
Regardless of who you blame, this is becoming a problem for the NHL. As passionate as soccer fans are and as much as they love the sport, they do not like the diving. It is a black eye and prevents a lot of potential fans from connecting with the game.
I get it. You’re trying to gain an advantage by hoping the ref only sees the reaction and not what caused it. It is still garbage. It is in soccer and all sports.
We cannot afford to have the same thing with hockey. The NHL and hockey is enough of a niche sport as it is. Let’s not ruin it with this nonsense.