One of the things I like about playoff hockey is watching some of the story lines develop as a series progresses. Especially when coaches engage in gamesmanship.
I don't have a single problem with this tactic as your job, when you get to the playoffs, is lobby for every single edge you can get. As I'm wont to say, show me a coach who doesn't do these things in the playoffs and I'll show him the door.
So it brought a smile to my face when former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock came out with this gem after Game 2 of the Red Wings-Blue Jackets series.
"I don't think Detroit would do anything in drag racing, because they would never pass the Christmas tree test. They would be red-lighted (for a false start) every time because their wingers cheat," Hitchcock said.
"So we're going to cheat just like they are. (On) the power-play goal they scored, their winger went in (early); good for him. We're going to do the same thing. It'll be interesting to see who gets kicked out (of the faceoff circle) first."
Does the grievance have any credence?
Absolutely say Henrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper, and Dan Cleary.
"They've got a good faceoff team, too, don't kid yourself,'' Wings forward Dan Cleary said. "Don't think they don't cheat. It's just that we're better at cheating, that's all.''
Henrik Zetterberg told the story of a book published by a linesman several years back that named a Red Wing as the best faceoff cheater in the league. He wouldn't name the player.
Kris Draper then admitted that former linesman Ray Scapinello once called him the biggest faceoff cheater he had ever seen.
"Scotty (former coach Bowman) asked me, 'Why do you keep getting kicked out of the draws?' I said, 'I don't know. Ask Scappy.' ''
Draper also was surprised that Zetterberg was aware of the book.
"I'm surprised he can read,'' Draper said. "Pavel (Datsyuk) probably read it to him.''
I'm sure Guy Carbonneau was alluded to quite often in that book as well.
Anyway, this isn't whining for the sake of whining. This is a calculated move meant to plant a seed of doubt in the linesmen's eyes to gain an advantage.
And when you consider just how much Detroit relies on their puck possession game, it's a genius move.
Well, if it works, it is.