Rotten Roddy Pays The Piper
Lost in the wreckage that was Wednesday night's lynching* in North Carolina (Ooh, is that a little too close to home? My bad. No really, my bad.) is the fact that Rod The Bod, Carolina Hurricanes captain Rod Brind'Amour, is in fact a cheater. Following Game One on Monday night, Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff complained that Brind'Amour was cheating in the faceoff circle. The Oilers complained to the referees during the game, and even sent a video tape to the NHL. Canes blogs Red & Black Hockey and Cason Blog called it "whining," but as Oilers bloggers like Tyler have noted, the footage tells the tale.
As I noted in the comments at Red & Black Hockey, SportsNet ran a segment on Horcoff's complaint, and showed some pretty damning footage of Brind'Amour in action. In Game One, Brind'Amour would come into the faceoff circle at an angle, would put his stick down on the ice and then pick it up again, and didn't even put his stick down on the ice for one faceoff (the play where he got the shot right off the draw). All three of these things should have had him thrown out of the faceoff circle, but the linesmen turned a blind eye to the infractions. In fact, the referees had to eventually overrule the linesmen in Game One and throw Brind'Amour out themselves.
Brind'Amour claims that he wasn't cheating, and stated after Game Two that he never heard anything from the officials about his approach on the draw. But you would assume that his dominance in the faceoff circle in Game Two would have continued if he weren't doing anything wrong. As you can see here, Brind'Amour's success in the faceoff circle was dramatically better in Game One than it was in Game Two.
Total Won: 28 of 34 (82%)
Offensive Zone Wins: 9 of 10 (90%)
Defensive Zone Wins: 6 of 8 (75%)
Neutral Zone Wins: 13 of 16 (81%)
Against Horcoff: 15 of 18 (83%)
Total Won: 10 of 20 (50%)
Offensive Zone Wins: 4 of 4 (100%)
Defensive Zone Wins: 1 of 8 (12%)
Neutral Zone Wins: 5 of 8 (63%)
Against Horcoff: 4 of 10 (40%)
That is a total drop in success of 32%, and a 42% drop in success against Horcoff (interestingly, both teams did ridiculously better in the offensive zone than the defensive zone in Game Two). Assuredly, Brind'Amour could have just had a bad night. Maybe the Oilers had their "timing" back (Brind'Amour made the absurd claim after Game One that the Oilers were doing bad in the circle because they hadn't played in such a long time). But my guess is that Brind'Amour knew he had been busted, played the faceoffs straight, and got his clock cleaned. I see no reason to believe his numbers won't stabilize to their normal rate, but I think The Bod's days of 82% success rate in the faceoff circle are over.
One bonus note: It has been pointed out by my good buddy Mark Kirkup--himself an alumnus of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan--that if Brind'Amour by some chance wins the Conn Smythe Trophy this year, it will be the second year in a row that an alumnus of Notre Dame will have pulled off the feat. Brad Richards, of the Tampa Bay Lightning--also known as "Tusks" for reasons I want no knowledge of--is also an alumnus of Notre Dame, and he won the award in 03/04. For those not in the know, Notre Dame has produced a great amount of NHL talent, including Brind'Amour, Richards, Curtis Joseph, Russ Courtnall, Vincent Lecavalier, Willie Mitchell, Gary Leeman, and Wendel Clark. In fact, the Clark connection might explain why Rod's looking so hungrily at Weight in that picture above.
*One further, non-sports related note: It has been stated on this webpage that 75 African-Americans were lynched by white mobs in North Carolina between 1882 and 1930 (pages here and here give higher numbers based on a longer time span). That is a fairly horrendous rate of 1.5 lynchings a year for 48 years.