I’m a firm believer that you should rarely, if ever, blame a loss on officiating. Sometimes they help you out, sometimes they hurt you, and it’s ultimately a zero-sum game. Monday night was undoubtedly one of the times that the officials hurt the Bruins, but in reality the Bruins hurt themselves too much. There will be a night where the refs help them, so what are we really complaining about here?
Make no mistake, Brad Marchand clearly should’ve drawn a penalty early in OT against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois practically bear-hugged Marchand and dragged him to the ice. You could argue that it should’ve been a penalty shot. But at the very least, Dubois committed a holding penalty there.
There was another borderline penalty against Dubois when he appeared to hook Riley Nash on another potential scoring chance, but that one wasn’t as egregious as the hold on Marchand.
If you merely want the refs to make calls when they should make them, then you have an ironclad argument here. It was a bad non-call. And it’s quite possible that Marchand’s reputation played a role in it. You can’t really expect Marchand to get the benefit of the doubt, either.
But … to argue that this non-call did anything to truly “lose” the game for the Bruins is to make a lot of assumptions. You’re assuming that Marchand not only gets a penalty shot out of it but scores. Marchand is electric and had an insane goal earlier in the game, but he’s not a guarantee to score on a penalty shot. Especially against Joonas Korpisalo on this particular night; he made 34 saves and you could argue he stole the game for the Blue Jackets.
Instead, we should be looking at what actually happened rather than what could’ve/would’ve/should’ve happened. What actually happened is Brandon Carlo committing a bad turnover in his own end that led directly to the first Blue Jackets goal…
…And the B’s allowing a goal 25 seconds after going up 3-1, in which both defensemen (Carlo again) completely lost Sonny Milano as he slipped down by the net no problem…
…And doing nothing to stop Thomas Vanek from circling directly into the slot and getting a deflection on Markus Nutivaara’s point shot…
…And letting Artemi Panarin score an utterly inexcusable goal right off the faceoff:
Head coach Bruce Cassidy tends to agree that the officials missed a bad one on the Dubois/Marchand non-call. But he’s also not going to use it as an excuse.
“Listen, they make their calls,” Cassidy said after the game. “I was more confused about, like I said, I thought there was clearly two icings that directly resulted in goals. That was disappointing to me, but life goes on. We got our power-play opportunities; we were able to convert on one of them, so no.
“Hopefully, the next time we’re in overtime, a call goes our way. It’s just the way it is.”
Translation: Yeah it sucks, but sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. No sense worrying too much about something you can’t control, something that usually evens out in the end.
But speaking of control, the Bruins controlled the action for most of the game on Monday night. They ended up losing because of a handful of bad defensive breakdowns. And Tuukka Rask wasn’t as awful as his five goals allowed might suggest, but ideally he’s there to stop Panarin from scoring off the faceoff draw. Is it OK to ask that Rask should have stopped one goal?
Look, the Bruins don’t deserve to be ripped to shreds over one loss. They’ve been playing very well recently, given the injuries to several key players. It’s just a single regular season game. But I’m also not going to foist all the blame on the officials when the Bruins make mistakes of their own that lead to losses. They shouldn’t have been playing overtime in the first place.
No doubt, the officials need to be better than they were in that OT period. But they should also be low on the list when figuring out why the Bruins, or any team, lost the game. Something tells me you wouldn’t be hearing much about the officiating if the Bruins ended up winning.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.