The Stanley Cup playoffs are moving right along, and would be right in the middle of round two, if every team wasn’t either about to get swept or already is (Let’s go Tampa!). I love the Cup Playoffs. Teams ratchet up the intensity, there is a little bit more news coverage of our great sport, and there is no better event to watch in sports than playoff hockey overtime (and we have been fortunate enough to get a few Game 7 OT’s this season as well).
The one thing I don’t like is how much blame the refs take.
Sure, I’ll get on the refs from time to time. I try to keep it out of the broadcasts as much as possible, but sometimes the refs are doing a poor job and the fans deserve to know it. Maybe it’s just me, but this season there seems to be so much more blaming of the refs in the NHL than we have seen in years past.
It all started when Vancouver looked poised to lose their opening round series after being up 3-0. That’s when Canucks GM Mike Gillis decided to blast the officiating, claiming they were the reason it went to a Game 7. Gillis questions how the Blackhawks could have more power plays, which couldn’t have anything to do with Vancouver being whistled for 201 more minutes in penalties than Chicago during the regular season.
We didn’t see any sort of reciprocal effect when the Canucks were given a gift of a power play in overtime of Game 3 against Nashville, directly resulting in the Canucks scoring and winning the game to control the series at 2 games to 1. Where is Gillis saying, “Thanks to the refs, we got a power play we didn’t deserve and won the game”? If you blame the refs for your losses, you better get up there in front of the media and credit them for your wins.
San Jose has taken control of their series as well, and while I credit the Detroit organization for not saying anything about the refs, based on a good number of blogs and message boards, their fans are none-too-pleased with the officiating. In Game 1, the Sharks went 1-for-6, while the Red Wings were scoreless but got only two chances. The Sharks won in OT. But the next night, the Wings had the PP advantage (1-for-6, SJ was 1-for-5) and still lost. Some Wings fans feel that if San Jose hadn’t gotten such an advantage in penalties in Game 1, the series would be at the worst tied 1-1 going back to Detroit.
I see no reason to believe this is the case. The games have been won because San Jose is out-hustling, out-skating, and out-competing Detroit. Maybe the reason San Jose got so many more power plays in Game 1 was because the Wings had been off for a week after sweeping Phoenix, and the Sharks had just got done with a grueling series against the Kings. Therefore, instead of being rested, the Wings were a bit sloppy and the Sharks were used to having to compete for every loose puck. In other words, the Sharks were ready, the Wings were not.
To further that point, the Wings got a gift of a power play when Devin Setoguchi got tangled up with Todd Bertuzzi in OT and was called for holding. Think it was a good call? Please watch it again, and look at that last angle where you can clearly see Bertuzzi grab Setoguchi. Detroit “gets the call” and still loses the game.
Sometimes the refs don’t see the game well and there is a team that gets favored with power plays. That happens, it will go the other way at a different point in the season or series. I’m just asking for fans/media/staff to please realize that there are usually reasons why your team lost. And those reasons are rarely just the refs.
Bob Mills is the Broadcasting and Media Relations Manager for the Condors, and part of the Broadcast team. He just completed his first season with the Condors. His blog will be posted every Thursday on bakersfieldcondors.com.
Follow Bob’s new Twitter: @Mills_Bob