Saturday night in Montreal, golden boy and former Canadiens prospect Ryan McDonagh made easily the worst play of any player in the game between the Habs and Rangers, possibly the worst play of the day for any NHLer, yet on the Sportsnet/Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, he wasn't even mentioned by name when it happened.
Part of the reason for that is because the colour commentator was Mike Johnson, not a blowhard like Glenn Healy, but as we've mentioned a few times this early season, this is one of those situations where the broadcast team is a huge part of forming the opinions of the viewer. Let me explain by breaking it down.
The puck is rimmed around the boards, and McDonagh's defense partner has pinched far too low, leaving him vulnerable. Tomas Plekanec is closest to the puck, and Max Pacioretty realizes this, so he begins to turn towards the neutral zone. The only logical thing for McDonagh to do here is retreat and try to play the 2-on-1 as best he can.
Instead, McDonagh tries to go for the puck, but only with his stick. He's so focused on getting to the puck first that he doesn't have his body blocking off the boards, while Pacioretty has already turned on the afterburners to fly the zone.
Plekanec easily chips the puck past McDonagh, whose momentum has taken him completely out of the play, and he wasn't even able to get any contact with Plekanec. The puck is now loose for Plekanec to grab, who now has a 2-on-0 break with the Canadiens' best offensive player. What happened next? Well...
Poor Henrik Lundqvist.
But let's be honest about this situation for a second, because the point I'm making isn't that McDonagh is bad, because he's a fantastic hockey player. The point I'm making is that if this were P.K. Subban making that mistake, it would be all over TSN and Sportsnet highlight packages today as evidence of him being a risky player who causes a ton of goals against.
When you're evaluating what you think of players, it's important to check what you believe against evidence, like Subban being on for among the least goals against per minute of any defensemen in the NHL over the previous three seasons. When a broadcaster grabs a single mistake by a player, replays it over and over, then overlays a narrative, it's very difficult for the average hockey fan to look past that.
Some broadcasters know the game extremely well (Mike Johnson), some don't (Glenn Healy), but either way, when you're doing things live, there's pressure on you to find something interesting to say, and often the easiest way to do that is to tear down a great player, because no one cares when Travis Moen flubs a puck, he's expected to.
Don't let broadcasters form your opinions, watch the game with a clear mind and form them yourself.