I am a firm believer that the outcome of a game is never directly effected by officiating. If you blame the officials for a loss, then about six or seven other things went wrong prior to the loss. Inconsistent officiating goes both ways, and while it may seem like your team is getting hosed, the calls and non-calls are going both ways. There is no conspiracy theory against a club.
That said, the officiating in this year’s playoffs is alarmingly terrible. As a player, you can generally deal with refs calling everything or not calling anything at all. That’s consistent officiating, even if you may or may not agree with it. The most frustrating official is the official that does not make consistent rulings; an official that lets one slash of a stick go, and then calls a penalty on the same type of play three minutes later; the official that misses someone leave their feet to decapitate someone, only to have that player suspended for 25 games later that week.
The last example may be a case of a ref just having his head turned the other way, but there have been way too many examples like this of officials just being completely inconsistent with calls. I’ll even let the Ilya Kovalchuk delay of game call from the other night –the one where it clearly went off of a Flyer’s stick– slide as just a blown call. Blown calls aren’t the issue. It’s inconsistent calls.
The NHL appears to be a-okay with the status quo of officiating. Yesterday’s game is a prime example of how horrible it has become. The interference penalty on Anton Stralman was the right call, as the puck was behind Stralman and he interfered with Jason Chimera’s path to the puck. That is textbook interference. The problem isn’t that the penalty was called, the problem is that I can count about 700 other times when the penalty wasn’t called, both for or against the Rangers.
The problem isn’t that the slashing penalty on Carl Hagelin was called, he slashed the stick out of John Carlson’s hands. The problem was that they didn’t call the slash that snapped Brian Boyle’s stick in half one shift earlier.
The problem wasn’t that the Capitals scored on the ensuing powerplay on that Hagelin slash, it was that Ryan Callahan was blatantly tripped –in front of an official– and they didn’t call that. It’s inconsistent officiating, and it’s infuriating to watch as a fan, and equally infuriating to play through as a player.
How many times did the Rangers get away with interferences, trips, or hooks? I cannot point out specifics from memory –sorry, I’m not re-watching yesterday’s game right now– but it’s probably the same amount of times that they were called for the same infractions. The same goes for the Caps. They’ve gotten away with a lot, but they’ve been called for a lot as well.
Is it too much to ask for consistency? If you’re going to call the slash on Hagelin, call the slash that snapped Boyle’s stick as well. If you’re going to call the textbook interference on Stralman, then call the textbook trip that took Callahan out of the play. Being an official is a tough job, but it’s not difficult to be consistent. Either call it tight, or let them play. Enough with this back and forth nonsense, it’s killing the game.