The two penalties assessed to the Capitals showed the true inability of the NHL’s officiating crew to accurately make good penalty calls. The officiating of NHL referees in recent weeks has come under scrutiny by many NHL fans, and the high-sticking call assessed to Nicklas Backstrom was a prime example of the referees’ lack of judgement. Backstrom was called for supposedly getting his stick up high on Philadelphia Flyers forward Ryan White; but after watching the replay, it was apparent that White’s teammate, Chris Vandevelde, hit him with his own stick. Capitals coach Barry Trotz tried arguing his case, but to no avail.
That wasn’t Backstrom’s stick pic.twitter.com/zT6CKeR8rf
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) April 24, 2016
Shortly after the Flyers’ power play began, Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen was handed a penalty for taking down Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, a penalty that was unfounded, as both players’ sticks got caught together, causing Simmonds to fall back. What’s more, it happened directly in front of the official.
It’s situations like these that should be challengeable under the often-criticized Coach’s Challenge, though no changes seem to be imminent.
Although the Caps killed off one (the other nullified by a Flyers penalty), the fact of the matter is that both were, in all actuality, not good calls. If teams are going to have any chance of succeeding in close games, they’ll need the officials to make accurate calls. The NHL must make sure that their officiating crews correctly call games in order for both teams (not just Philly and Washington, but all teams in the playoffs) to be able to have a chance.
By Michael Fleetwood