By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
When the Bruins' last-minute push for the game-tying goal in Game 5 came up short, the first I thing I did (besides bite the inside of my cheek 'til it bled to prevent myself from screaming obscenities) was turn to 98.5 The Sports Hub teammate Matt Dolloff and say, "This game should be going to overtime."
Complaining about the officiating is the obvious loser's lament, and I know this.
But the officiating crew's impact on last night's Game 5 -- a St. Louis victory undoubtedly aided by the non-call on a Noel Acciari trip that led to David Perron's game-winning goal -- cannot be ignored. It just can't. Imagine last year's whining about the Tampa Bay missed calls and then magnify it by, like, 25. That's where we are right now with this series/postseason.
You're free to say "Boston had time to tie it up!" and that's 100 percent true and your Most Objective Fan of the Year Award is in the mail (your prize is nothing), but when the game-winning goal of a Stanley Cup Final game is decided by anybody besides the players on the ice, it's worth bringing up. And this is without getting into the possibility (or likelihood) of the Blues' first goal coming as a result of an uncalled too many men, as the first -- and sixth -- player over the boards was the first player to play the puck on the zone entry that led to the goal.
So here we are, once again discussing an obvious and embarrassing missed call that played a major factor in a playoff game.
"It’s the National Hockey League getting a black eye with their officiating this playoffs," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, trying to hold himself back at times, said after the loss. "And here’s another one that’s gonna be talked about. I thought it was a great hockey game. That call probably — I mean there’s time — but it really made it difficult for us to get the win."
"That’s a penalty every time," Krug said of the Tyler Bozak-Acciari incident. "There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m all for letting us play, but when it leads to scoring chances and the opposing team ends up with the puck, it should be going our way.
"It should be a penalty. They missed one there."
The miss was so bad that the official Twitter account of the National Hockey League decided to trim the trip from their video of the game-winning goal. That is something that state-run news organizations would do! Just absolutely absurd nonsense.
And it was actually one of several that this crew missed.
It wouldn't be so maddening if this crew did not decide to tell the world how big their penis was when they sent Brad Marchand to the box for a post-whistle slash to Jordan Binnington. That seemed like a 'controlling the game' moment similar to Game 3. But they shriveled and were OK with Ivan Barbashev going for the TKO on Marcus Johansson (a hit that somehow went unpenalized but earned Barbashev a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Friday).
Ivan Barbashev with a high hit on Marcus Johansson.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 7, 2019
They also conveniently missed Zach Sanford's hit to Torey Krug's head, and moments later missed an Oskar Sundqvist Backlund-esque chicken wing on Krug, which led to a Grade-A scoring chance for the Blues to close out the second period.
The scary part about all these misses is that they happened right. in. front. of. an. official. It's just an almost impossible level of ineptitude, and it's been perhaps the most consistent theme of this postseason. For all teams.
— Lucas ???? Luke (@LucasOrLukeIDC) June 7, 2019
Great save by Krejci, but also Y-I-K-E-S that hold on Krug. pic.twitter.com/pUH5VYi9yi
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) June 7, 2019
These misses were all before the Acciari miss, too, which also happened right in front of an official.
"Well, [the hits to the head] are the ones they want to get out of the game, correct? That’s what I hear a lot about," said Cassidy. "Clearly they missed a couple tonight. It’s a fast game. I sat here two days ago and said I believe these officials are at this level because they’ve earned the right to be here and you should be getting the best."
This isn't a conspiracy. I don't believe that the referees are out to get the Bruins, and nor should you. I think they've clear bought in to Berube's whining after Game 3 (yell at your penalty kill for your team surrendering four goals on four kills and on four shots, dude), sure, but it's not this conspiracy to rob the Bruins of the Stanley Cup.
It's just plain incompetence from the referees we've been led to believe are the best this game has to offer, which the NHL has continued to try and tell you, especially with last night's straight-up embarrassing statement from Stephen Walkom.
Spoiler: They're not, and the NHL is not using technology to their advantage.
It seems impossible that in 2019, this league is still not able to review the things that they should.
We can review if a skate blade was a millimeter in the air on a zone entry 46 seconds before a goal was scored, and use that as justification to take goals off the board, but we can't review if a player was taken out of play by an uncalled penalty six seconds before a team scored. We can review if a player brushed up against a goaltender out of his crease (and take goals away as a result), but we're not allowed to use basic human reason to double-check the legality of a scoring play. Even the NFL figured this one out, but the NHL has not.
And after a training camp, 82 regular-season games, and three rounds of survival hockey, this is actually criminal.
"Help the refs," Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said in the aftermath of the handpass game between the Blues and Sharks during the Bruins-Hurricanes series. "So many of the calls, I don't really know. I look down to see, then I lose my mind because I know it was the wrong call, but they can't be expected to make those calls like that. It's way too hard."
Brind'Amour's solution was to take a couple of referees off the ice and put them in the penalty box where they're out of the way and free to see things from a different angle. Solutions from others have included putting an additional referee in the press box to effectively communicate with the on-ice crew trying to keep up with a game that gets faster every year, or simply reviewing all scoring plays (something that would take all of five seconds on 95 percent of goals scored in today's game).
There's no definite path to clear success, but the truth is that the standard has never been worse.
And I'm sure that anything's better than talking about this embarrassing level officiating deciding how a potential season-deciding game ends.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.