May 28, 2008
Yesterday, we reported on Pittsburgh Penguins Coach Michel Therrien beginning a P.R. campaign against the Detroit Red Wings' defense, claiming that the Wings are "good on obstruction" and that "it's going to be tough to generate any type of offense, if the rules remain the same." In a more muted critique, he raised the same notion during Tuesday's off-day press conference, saying that "it's tough to generate offense with the obstruction that they're doing. But you know what, they're doing it the right way. It's like there's a dotted line. Sometimes they'll cross it a little bit. And that goes with experience."
"When you trip the puck in and they don't go for the puck, basically, they slow you down, put the cross check in front of you, and steer you with a stick and that was supposed to be called and ... the refs allow it and just have to start doing it - simple as that."
If the plan was to work the refs, the Penguins were going to need a few non-partisan members of the media to back their cries of obstruction and create a sense that Detroit's defense was somehow blurring the line of legality.
So far, they're in this alone ... and the media's none too pleased with the Penguins' gripes.
From David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail:
In the wake of a second consecutive shutout by the Red Wings, the Penguins were left whining in frustration about the referees. It's the bad old days again, the refrain from head coach Michel Therrien went - they aren't calling obstruction. Or they are being fooled by Wings goaltender Chris Osgood's diving and making bad calls on the Penguins.
The reality is, Detroit's defencemen are so mobile and so skilled they are making an ordinary goaltender like Osgood look like Patrick Roy. Unless the Penguins figure out a way to get their fore-checking game working, keep the puck and create more scoring chances against Osgood, they will be as done as their 1977 ancestors were.
That reference to 1977 was a reference to Tiger Williams's rather hilarious analysis before the Maple Leafs knocked out the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs: "Them Penguins are done like dinner."
Well, to paraphrase Tiger: "Therrien's obstruction theory is done like dinner." Y! Sports Ross McKeon ridiculed Therrien after Game 2; and the National Post said Therrien was guilty of seizing "upon a page with a corner still folded over from last year, when Ottawa coach Bryan Murray took to working the officials vociferously after his club lost Game 1 in Anaheim." From the Post:
A year ago, the NHL's supervisor of officials, Stephen Walkom, responded to Murray's bleating as such: "I appreciate it, but I'm oblivious to it. That approach to influencing the game, it's archaic."
Tuesday, in a one-word e-mail, he confirmed that his opinion has not changed.
Really, the fact that the Penguins have already had one goal against them nullified by a call on Holmstrom means that, at worst, Therrien's club is even on the goaltender interference issue. What these Penguins really need is an Act of God.
But the biggest blast by the media came from Marty York of Metro News, who said going down the obstruction road only tarnished the Penguins' reputation:
Their head coach, Michel Therrien, has embarrassed himself with silly suggestions that the Wings have resorted to sneaky obstruction tactics and that Detroit netminder Chris Osgood has resorted to acting when Pittsburghers have skated near him. Hey, the Pens enjoyed a very, very good season. They ought not to spoil it now with inept play and senseless whining.
The Penguins see the Red Wings obstructing; the hockey media clearly sees the Penguins grasping at straws.