Photo: The Boston Globe
If you have been watching the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, no one can blame you for being frustrated and yelling expletives in front of the television as the officiating has been dreadful this postseason. The NHL will have to make changes during the offseason as multiple referees have been banned throughout the postseason for questionable calls. Here is a look at the most controversial calls that were made in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
First Round, Game 4: Washington Capitals versus Carolina Hurricanes
Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele received a two-minute minor for boarding Capitals forward T.J. Oshie. This dangerous play caused a clavicle injury for Oshie, which he later had surgery on. Was this play only worth a two-minute minor?
First Round, Game 7: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Sharks
Golden Knights forward Cody Eakin received a five-minute major for a cross-check to Sharks forward Joe Pavelski. The on-ice officials claimed that Eakin’s stick made contact with Pavelski’s head. Did Eakin make contact with Pavelski’s head? The stick appears to hit Pavelski in the chest. This call likely changed the final outcome of this series.
Round 2, Game 1: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Boston Bruins
In overtime, Bruins forward Brad Marchand stomped on Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson’s stick and broke it off of an ensuing faceoff. No call was made by the officials, so the Blue Jackets did not get the power-play like they should have. As a result, the Bruins would go on to win the game by a score of 3-2. If Columbus gets a power-play on that play and wins the first game, that changes the complexion of the series.
Round 2, Game 2: Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues
Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist slashed Stars goaltender Ben Bishop on his right pad when he went behind the net to play the puck. Bishop would fall down and return in the crease in time before any harm was done, fortunately for the Stars, but this was clearly a trip that was missed by the officials.
Second Round, Game 3: Boston Bruins versus Columbus Blue Jackets
Bruins forward Brad Marchand gave Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington a stiff punch to the back of his head. There was no call on the play and Marchand did not receive any supplemental discipline. Perhaps a two-minute minor for roughing should have been called.
Round 2, Game 4: Bruins vs. Blue Jackets
On this play, the puck went up into the netting and the referees should have been blown a whistle because it went out of play. Instead, play went on. The puck went straight to Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand at the slot. He slid the puck across to forward Artemi Panarin, who tucked it in past goaltender Tuukka Rask to cut the Bruins’ lead in half. Luckily for the Bruins, no harm would be done as they won Game 4 by a score of 4-1 and the series in six games. The only cost would be at the expense of Rask as he would have pitched a shutout had that goal not counted.
Second Round, Game 4: Blues versus Stars
Blues forward David Perron gave Bishop a strong slash to his back inside the trapezoid. No penalty was called on the play. Perhaps a slashing penalty should have been called here.
Second Round, Game 6: Bruins versus Blue Jackets
Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head to Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson. McAvoy later received a one-game suspension for this hit, but this hit was questionably called a two-minute minor. Was this check to the head worth only two minutes?
Round 2, Game 7: Avalanche vs. Sharks
When the Avalanche thought they had tied the game at two, captain Gabriel Landeskog hopped back onto the Colorado bench on the wrong side of the blueline. It appeared that Landeskog had a foot on the blueline while the other was in the offensive zone. Forward Colin Wilson’s tying goal midway through the middle frame was taken off and the Avalanche would fall 3-2 in their final game of the 2018-19 season.
Eastern Conference Final, Game 1: Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton barely moved his arm but Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom went right into his shoulder, drawing a penalty with the game tied. 17:19 was left on the clock in the third period when the penalty was called. As a result, the Bruins’ deadly power-play struck and Boston went on to add two more goals en route to a 5-2 victory. This play may have served as the turning point in the series as the Hurricanes led 2-1 after two periods but center Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winner for the Bruins on the power-play. Boston would go on to sweep Carolina.
Moments later, Hamilton was called again for interference but it appeared that Bruins forward David Backes, whom he hit, had his stick on the puck, though slightly. It was a clean hit but the referees called it anyway. This was a missed opportunity for the Hurricanes to tie the game.
This was clearly a hand pass that was not called by any of the on-ice officials. In addition to the non-call, this is a non-reviewable play under the current rules of the league.
Playoff hockey tends to be more vicious and the on-ice officials let the players play a little bit more dangerously.
Stanley Cup Final, Game 5: Blues vs. Bruins
The latest questionable call took place on Thursday night when Blues center Tyler Bozak stripped the puck from Bruins forward Noel Acciari in a battle along the boards but did so by clearly tripping him. Bozak’s stick got tangled in moments later, forward David Perron banked the puck through Rask’s five-hole to give the Blues a 2-0 lead with 9:24 left. The goal would stand as the game-winner. This should have definitely been a penalty on Bozak.
In order to fix the officiating, the NHL must fix their system for reviewing plays over the offseason. While all humans make mistakes, the fact that this happens repeatedly is unacceptable and embarrassing for the NHL. The officiating has been so bad that it has even cost a few teams such as the Avalanche and Golden Knights their seasons. If the NHL fails to make the changes that are necessary, that will be a horrible look for the league going forward.
By Harrison Brown