Toronto Boston was supposed to be the talked-about series the next day... was among fans of those teams, I'm certain, but much of the talk was amount the Sharks' 5 minute power play after their captain hit their head on the ice.
I let this slide: I always thought passively that it was the right call, but on the wrong player, so whatever. Vegas is the team that couldn't kill a five minute penalty. In international hockey, where the rules are properly enforced and 5v5 doesn't dominate, power plays come between 5 and 10 times a games because players routinely cheat. In the playoffs, penalties become sparse.
Playoff officiating has been dubious and lazy for years: I believe it's deliberately designed so that the players can develop more animosity with one another because that draws in fans. More penalties would mean better behaviour, and many fans don't come to a hockey game to watch people behave. And good behaviour is never talked about the next morning, is it? No publicity.
But then I heard the NHL reprimanded those officials for making the wrong call...
Uhm... NHL? Was this a Rorschach effect? (definition later)
The common angle of the play shows that Eakin gave him a shove, which is not going to get called in any game, especially the playoffs, but then Stastny appeared to come by and push him over to gain positioning.
Except the common angle of the play didn't show what was critical to the play: Stastny's stuck out knee caused Pavelski's feet flipped up on him.
I don't expect refs to sit there calculating Newtonian laws on the ice in about 45 seconds. They saw a guy hurt, and they made a call to the best of their knowledge. I have absolutely zero problem with that. Guys typically get hurt in hockey because of freak accidents or reckless plays.
This was no freak accident: it was a reckless play by Stastny.
Right when Stastny engaged on the contact, for some odd reason, he stuck his knee out. Not only did he stick it out, he used it as leverage against Pavelski when he pushed him over. Why did he do this?
This is a borderline slew foot and should be looked at as such.
Here's how a slew foot is defined:
A dangerous play where a player comes from behind an opposing skater and trips the player unexpectedly by dragging the skate so the victim falls to the ice and quite often hits his head or lands hard due to the sneaky nature of the crime.
... and quite often hits his head or lands hard due to the sneaky nature of the crime
Now, he did not come from "behind" the opposing player, though it was at his flank, which is nearly behind. Flank plays are extremely dangerous in hockey (ie, blindside hits). But he did upend the player BECAUSE he swept his knee underneath Pavelski. The player's head did hit the ice. And the crime was unnoticed.
I'm not declaring Stastny did it intentionally, but a play doesn't have to be intentional for a major penalty to be called. Boarding is a perfect example of this, except with boarding, the victimized player is always partly to blame for putting himself in a vulnerable spot and not keeping his head up.
In this case, however: Legs don't just shoot up like that when NHL players are falling: this should have been anyone's first clue. Newtonian physics doesn't work like that, and neither does the body's natural balance systems near the inner ear.
Now I expect people to just know that if someone's head hit the ice, questions need to be asked, especially if it's open ice.
Sometimes there are freak accidents: I remember Edler smashing his face to the ice earlier this season because he gripped too hard to his stick which got caught in a player's skate and pulled him frontward for a faceplant. Weird play, but very clearly a freak accident.
But in most cases, someone did something. These are professionals who've skated nearly their entire lives: they don't just fall over and hit their head, and no "horizontal" play will cause them to do that. A rising hit will cause head trauma, and a slew foot will cause head trauma. The NHL hasn't clued into the danger of a rising hit, yet, with the DOPS video from last year attempting to explain their rulings (which did them no favours). Yet, it seems that most of the hockey community called it a missed call.
They were right, Eakins did nothing meriting a penalty, but they were wrong that it wasn't a major. This was an extremely reckless play by Stastny that deserved a 5 minute major. They got the wrong guy, but at the very least, it was closer to the right result.
I believe what also happened where is what I dub a Rorschach play in a sport. When there is a play that is on the cusp of two rulings, it becomes what the perceiver wants it to become
rather than what it is. A perfect example of this is a catch/missed catch in the NFL, because even applying hard standards, there is still that little bit of grey area between - did he have control of the ball? Were both feet down?
Was this a Rorschach play? You decide...