Saturday, June 08, 2013

Eastern Conference Finals: If only the refs called more penalties

Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am seeing a theme emerge this morning, the non-call that led to the game winning goal in game three in overtime, the uncalled interference call on Crosby in game four.

 You would have thought that the Penguins were totally hosed in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Bruins. I guess the Penguins fans didn't see any of the numerous infractions that went uncalled against the Bruins that could have led to another power play in their favor.

 All that I heard after game one was Crosby whining about the officiating and how the Bruins were getting away with bloody murder. Did he see Jonathan Toews getting mugged on the ice against the Detroit Red Wings? It’s not just him.
Ken Campbell, The Hockey News -- There is not enough space in this column or any other to chronicle the litany of blown calls and shoddy work done by the supposed best officials in the world during these playoffs. But wouldn’t you like to, just once, see an important game that is officiated to the same standard as one in the regular season? And it all comes down to one of two things: Either the officials are making up their minds to be far more lax during the playoffs in the name of “letting the players decide it” or the league is mandating they change their approach. Neither one of them, quite frankly, is very appealing.

Case in point was Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Boston-Pittsburgh series. Had referees Marc Joannette and Dan O’Rourke called all the violations of the rulebook, there probably wouldn’t have been enough players to play 5-on-5 at some points in the game. Then again, had they called the fragrant fouls early, perhaps the players would not have gone through the game thinking they could get away with pretty much anything.

Instead, the two of them made it very clear that they were going to call next to nothing. Then what happened? Well, Jaromir Jagr clearly hooked Evgeni Malkin in the neutral zone and scooped the puck from him, a play that ultimately resulted in Patrice Bergeron scoring the game-winner in double overtime. Basically, Joannette and O’Rourke set the standard and the players responded to it and the game was decided in large part by a restraining foul that clearly should have been called.
Here’s my question, did Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins have the mindset that they were entitled to a Stanley Cup? It seems like the Penguins were never in this series. I almost think that the Bruins were the one team that they didn’t want to play from the start.

During the series, the Bruins took away the Penguins time and space and made it tough sledding for the Penguins offensive players. The Penguins never really seemed to make the necessary adjustments until game three and by then it was too late.

On the other side of the ice, the Bruins players got to the dirty areas to score goals and do the little things that they had to do to push their team over the top. Hockey is about making adjustments; the Boston Bruins made the adjustments and did what they had to do to win this series, the Penguins did not.

What if? What If the refs “had” called more penalties and called the games more tightly? Does anyone think that it would have really would have made much of a difference? I don’t… Both teams combined were 0-26 on the powerless play. Maybe the refs were saving us the agony of having to watch the Bruins and the Penguins suffer on the power play.

Here’s some numbers for you; “0” – here’s how it looks; Evgeni Malkin (0g-0a—0pts) -5 Sidney Crosby (0g-0a—0pts) -2 Jarome Iginla (0g-0a—0pts) -4. Tuukka Rask was the first goalie to have two shutouts in a series since Phiadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton in 2010 Eastern Conference finals versus the Montreal Canadiens.

Now that the Boston Bruins have swept the Penguins, and they're going back to the Stanley Cup Finals - for a second time in three seasons - we can finally give the Bruins their due.

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