Referees Becoming Focal Point of Playoffs

Okay, Canuck fans. 

Take a deep breath and settle in, because you’re going to have a bumpy ride until Game Four. 

Last night, in Los Angeles, the NHL blew a call—plain and simple. 

Allow me to set the scene. 

With the Canucks down by two in the third period, the team was pressuring the Kings and their line of Sedin, Sedin and Burrows was showing life for the first time all game long. 

Alex Burrows drove around the outside of the net and attempted to jam home the wrap around. The puck slid off of his stick and off of the skate of Daniel Sedin, between Jonathan Quick’s pads and into the net. 

A clear goal. 

What was not so clear, initially, was how the puck was directed into the net. 

Rule 78.5 (ii) of the NHL rule book clearly states the following: 

“Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons: 

… 

(ii)  When the puck has been kicked using a distinct kicking motion. 

Now I am admittedly biased against the Canucks. I’m a Wild fan. I just don’t like ‘em. 

But that, last night, was a goal. 

Even Mike Murphy’s comments on CBC seem to scream that Toronto made a mistake that they didn’t want to own up to: 

“It had to be propelled in some way. Not with a distinct kicking motion, but with a kicking motion, that made it move back the other way. It wasn’t a deflection. It wasn’t a redirect. It was a kick. That’s the decision we came up with.” 

What’s interesting about this statement is that Murphy single handedly re-writes the NHL rule book in one statement. 

It wasn’t a distinct kicking motion. Just a kicking motion, which surely had nothing to do with Sedin trying to stop before plowing through Quick, or trying to keep the defensemen behind him out of position to clear away a possible rebound attempt. 

Furthermore, what really bothers me about this call is that it was a good goal on the ice, which means that there had to be conclusive evidence in order to overturn the call on the ice and I, for the life of me, can’t find a single thing conclusive about any angle of any of the replays that I saw. 

So Canucks fans, you are justified in crying foul. It was a bad call at the worst of times. It was a call that changed the complexion of the game. 

But it speaks to a larger problem in these playoffs. 

No, it’s not some grand conspiracy to ensure that the Kings win the Stanley Cup. 

{Author’s Note: Puck Daddy already addressed this issue quite well, with all of the rationale I would have used, so I won’t beat a dead horse here—but, in any event, go check his out because 1) he’s right on the money and 2) he’s right on the money.} 

What this speaks to is that the level of officiating in these playoffs has been much, much lower than what you would like to see when every mistake in every game is amplified tenfold (just ask Dan Boyle). 

The playoffs are still young, but the blown call last night was the third egregious blown call that I had witnessed in the last three days of playoff hockey and the second that completely shot any momentum gained in the foot. 

Take the game between Washington and Montreal on Saturday, for example. 

The Capitals are down 4-2 and pressuring Montreal hard.  I believe it was Tom Poti who pinched in deep before deciding to take a shortcut, following the puck into the crease. Poti collided with Jaroslav Halak with little to no effort exerted trying to avoid him. 

No call. 

The ensuing scramble for the loose puck that was in the crease saw a Montreal player make a hand pass with no Caps player near the puck… 

Resulting in a whistle? 

While the goalie interference call might have been debatable, there’s no doubt that the hand pass wasn’t. There was no Caps player even attempting to reach down and swipe at the puck with his hand and the puck was lying directly between two Habs players. 

Look. I get it. 

Referees are human. They miss calls. They make mistakes. 

But in the playoffs the stakes are higher and the players raise their games to the next level. 

Quite frankly, I think it’s time that the refs do the same. 

No one knows what the outcome of Vancouver’s game would have been had the goal been allowed. 

It could have just been 5-4, or it could have sparked a Vancouver rally. We simply don’t know. 

But what this shoddy refereeing is doing is placing the spotlight on the referees, not on the players where it should be, and that is a large problem.

Comments

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