On Nov. 9, the Lightning and the Flyers painted a hockey still life, a bowl of rotting fruit. Less than a minute into their game—which Tampa Bay won 2--1 in overtime—the Lightning adopted its passively impenetrable 1-3-1 pose, its first forward loitering at the Philadelphia blue line. The Flyers responded by standing stock still, with defenseman Braydon Coburn holding the puck at the right face-off circle inside his own zone for about 30 seconds before officials whistled the play dead. The bizarre scene played itself out a second time four minutes later, as players on the Philly bench screamed "Chicken!" or earthier imprecations, at their opponent.
Although the issue of what to do about the Lightning-Flyers pantomime is bound for the agenda of the general managers' meeting in Toronto this week, Colin Campbell, NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations, says that there is "nothing to knee-jerk immediately."
Of course, if other teams copy Philadelphia's delaying tactic, the league might have to consider changes, perhaps a time limit for a team to advance the puck past a certain point. When SI presented the notion to Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, he demurred. "That doesn't really change Tampa's formula, right?" Staal observed. "They just get to stand there, and you have to attack them.... It's a hard thing to penalize because who are you penalizing: the team not moving the puck or the team standing there?"
Tough call. Still life in the NHL is not a bowl of cherries.
MARK LOMOGLIO/ICON SMI (PRONGER)
SCATHING REVIEW Of Tampa's 1-3-1 forechecking scheme, Philadelphia captain Chris Pronger says, "It's not hockey in my book.... Would you pay money to watch that?"