Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Make Sports Blowouts Fun!

Something unusual happened at the end of the Pittsburgh Penguins-New Jersey Devils game on Saturday. No, it’s not the empty net, buzzer-beating goal by Sidney Crosby from the opposite side of the rink. It’s that Pens’ defenseman Kris Letang took the face off (or at least stood in the face off circle) to end the game. (Start at the 8:20 mark of the video for the Crosby goal and Letang "faceoff.")

According to Hockey Reference, Letang has played in 856 regular season games over 15 seasons. This was only the fifth time Letang took a face off in his NHL career. So my question is why don’t defensemen ever take face offs?

Look, I know that it’s about positioning. If a defenseman is taking the face off, that means that a center or wing will have to take his/her spot. Plus, it’s likely that defensemen never practice face offs. However, you’re telling me that no defenseman in the league could regularly win faceoffs? There are likely many NHL defensemen who played on offense growing up or in the minors. I’m sure they won plenty of faceoffs then. Maybe they were the best at winning faceoffs on their teams or even in their leagues. However, due to their professional position, they never (or very rarely) take faceoffs now. I feel like there has to be a few NHL defensemen who could win a faceoff if a team really needs a win at the end of a period or game. Or if the game is a blowout, why not let defensemen from each team take a face off for something different?

This goes to a larger point in sports. I think most people enjoy the unusual aspects of the game. It's fun to see a position player pitch in baseball, though this happens weekly now.

I enjoy seeing Phillip Evans leading the Pirates pitching staff in ERA!

To see an offensive or defensive lineman score a touchdown. 

To see a goalie score a goal, especially one from near their opponent's goal like the one at the 2:30 mark of the video.

I suggest more of this in sports. If a team is down by 10 in the 9th inning of a baseball game, have someone who throws left-handed play 3rd base, shortstop, or 2nd base! Play all defenders on a power play! Have your center play point guard! So many possibilities!

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