I don't take Bob Murray's recent "We have to start diving" comments to the OC Register seriously. Mostly because his final quote in the article notes that his scouts are currently in Europe, and maybe he should ask them to bring him back some [Euro] divers. Now that he's managing the first Murray-roster ever to make the playoffs, you'd think he'd realize it isn't 1997.
The officiating in the Ducks/Predators series has been frustrating, for sure, and for both clubs. Still, let's go to the statistics. Behind The Net tracks penalties drawn per 60 minutes at 5 on 5 for the 2010-11 campaign.
Through 82 games played, Jerred Smithson is an impressive 1.4. The Vlade Divac of hockey, he just may be. But, through 82 games played, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry are 1.3 and 1.2 respectively. Not bad. If you saw that stat and immediately started saying that Perry and Ryan are power forwards that earn their penalties with pressure and never ever ever (ever-EVER?) dive, then please keep your strongly-worded letters short-- that will give me time to read Robby's.
The Predators' numbers are generally impressive. Jordin Tootoo is 1.9 through 54 games, Hornqvist 1.4 through 79 games, Erat 1.1 through 64 games and Joel Ward 0.9 through 80 games. That's five guys-- all double-digit minutes per game guys --that can maybe get Nashville a key penalty in this series, though Tootoo, Smithson and Ward also take about a penalty per 60 minutes.
The Ducks counter with Ryan, Perry, and Jason Blake with 1.7 in 76 games played. Brad Winchester draws 1.6 and Jarko Ruutu 0.8, but they take 1.4 and 1.7 respectively and aren't double digit minutes guys for Anaheim, nor were they for their prior clubs.
Ultimately, if someone is playing tight defense on you and you feel a stick at your skate, between your legs, on your hands, at your shoulders, then it's completely up to you if you want to dive. Does it make you less of a man if you do? Do you die a little inside? Do the terrorists win? These are questions I can't answer. However, a referee watching the exchange knows that that stick shouldn't be there, and if he gets the impression that it has impeded you in some way, then he can call a penalty.
And as a GM, if your team isn't getting the calls you think they should, and the other team is getting calls you think they shouldn't, you can lobby the referees, imply that they're being hoodwinked by Euro divers and that maybe if you had some 'smarter' (read less manly) divers on your team, you'd have the advantage in the series. It's a strategy . . . y'know, like diving.