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Mully: Majors, Rock in good playoff positions

Get out there and get all the rinks a rockin' so our local kids can experience the joy of having a big, boisterous crowd fueling them on, says Mully
USED 2019-04-17 Good Morning MH
Maija Hoggett/TimminsToday

It's that time of year that local hockey fans look excitedly forward to. The playoff push.

Both the Majors and Rock find themselves in good positions in their respective leagues. The Rock has a comfortable first-place position while the Majors will need a little help to nab first overall in the Great North league. A wide array of local teams in all categories are also in the stretch for their playdowns as well.

This is when you hope to find success after a long season of preparation.  At the higher levels, you are dealing with trying to get injured players back in the lineup and dealing with the effects of nagging injuries, fatigue and focus.

What I really like about playoffs is how some players absolutely shine. Some players just seem born to be factors in a long playoff run. And a number of times, much more than you think, those key playoff performers have not been among the top players in the regular season. It's almost as if they just methodically go about their game and then seem to find an extra gear in the postseason. Then coaches run into a nice problem when those players start to push the stars for ice time as a result of their playoff prowess.

We all know of and fondly remember those playoff beauties from our time as players, coaches and fans.

You wish for those surprise performances every year. But the bottom line is this: You better get consistent goaltending. You don't always need a Roy, Fuhr or Price, but you do need a goalie who makes the saves he should make and doesn't give up the softies that can turn into deciding factors. You need only look at past playoff success stories to see that your back end needs to be very strong. If defenceman are prone to turnovers from the forecheck and not proficient at moving the puck ahead, you will be left out in the cold.

Forwards have to double up their commitment to help out defensively and be very prepared for the board battles and heightened physical play. Poor penalty killing has been the demise of a number of playoff teams and is essential to winning. A good power play can make the game a lot easier when playoff hockey throttles offence and goals are even harder to come by.

And for me, you better be mentally tough as a team. You have to be prepared for anything and have to stay ultra-focused when things don't go your way. After a bad break or a poor shift if you linger about it the next thing you know the game slips from your hands. Resiliency is key. Keep moving forward.

I always hearken back to one particular playoff as a player where we got absolutely pasted by double digits in game one. It was like "Oh well" time on the team and on to game two. A wide preponderance of teams would have folded up and made plans for the season to end. Not only did we bounce back but would take the league title in seven games.

Speaking of playoffs, I get so sad watching Pittsburgh fade out of the playoff picture in the NHL every day. Especially when Crosby is playing so freaking well. But when you turn the puck over as much as they do you are always going to come up short. They are a plus team sitting 10 points back but the multitude of bad turnovers has led to losses in games they were in control of. That and an apparent inability to hold a lead late.

So, I'm watching Calgary last night and I saw two things happen that bothered me. Both incidents involve a player's head violently making contact with the boards. One resulted in a match penalty. Here's what I don't get. Why does any contact where the opponent's head gets drilled into the glass not an automatic penalty? I know there are times when a guy gets hit or is off balance and his head hits the boards. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the guy delivering the check coming in at full speed and making contact with the player and continuing through til that player's head meets Mr. Glass.

They call a head check penalty if your shoulder or elbow contacts your opponent's head. But too many times a player is vulnerable or in a bad position and there is no let-up and a head/glass collision is imminent. Protect the friggin' players. Never mind fines. Toughen up suspensions and penalties. I watched that kid from Seattle's neck bend like a pretzel and was amazed he got up. Yes, there was a match, but there should be a much stiffer penalty. And after 30-plus years of the push to eliminate hits from behind are they even still happening? Are we that thick? Protect the players will ya?

And one last thing.. I sent out an email s) last week that I think a lot of the people I sent it to thought I was pulling their leg about. (Me? Never.)

But I heard what I heard the announcer say ... Thanks.

In the meantime, get out there and get all the rinks a rockin' so our local kids can experience the joy of having a big, boisterous crowd fueling them on.

Later Skater

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