I've always thought that the better team of the series needs to win that one big game on the road. On Saturday, the LA Kings were the better team on the ice, yet still could not find a way to win at the Shark Tank, where things never seem to go the Kings' way, similar to the United Center, where if the defending champions stay alive tomorrow, should be heading after seeing Detroit completely collapse in the third period on Sunday.
So, with that being said, if the Sharks find a way to break the ice by winning the only road game of the series, then I hope they continue to bully the Blackhawks and give them hell. If San Jose can steal the series, and dethrone the champs in their building, then I hope they'll be finally lifting the Cup in No Cal.
Still, my beef is with the officials. I have not watched that much of the Eastern playoffs to be honest. That may be because I knew all along that Boston and Pittsburgh were the class of the East long before this whole tournament began. But this has got to be one of the worst playoffs that has been officiated in some time. Whatever happened to the age old unwritten, yet respected rule of keeping your whistles in your back pocket and letting the big boys play their game?
Whatever happens between the Sharks and Kings, I will always remember this series with San Jose GM Doug Wilson shooting his mouth off at the refs after a tough call in the latter parts of game 2 when the Sharks lost a 3-2 lead on a pair of Kings power play goals. Since his rant which cost him peanuts in the end, the Kings have been called for 18 violations to the Sharks' 11. Most of them, by the way, have been bogus.
Say what you want about the Kings inept offense, which has always been the case, but when the team is constantly killing off penalties that shouldn't have been called in the first place, and furthermore against a team with an exceptionally strong man-advantage, takes a lot out of your game and momentum.
In game six, the Kings were able to beat Antti Niemi four times, but thanks to the iron, only one puck was tallied. Dustin Brown followed up his words by scoring a big goal, but that was the only goal. Things just are not going LA's way after winning all but one road game during last summer's run. And Jonathan Quick has been called upon to make many more great saves than last year as well.
Still, my resentment towards the officiating stands. These refs need to let the teams play and only call penalties when it becomes blatantly obvious.
Tonight, in Detroit, the Hawks had found a way to beat Jimmy Howard, then got a huge gift from the officials when Michal Frolik took a slight little jab to the gloves from a defenders blade while trying to score on a half break. While such a play is rarely called in season games, the ref had the guts to call a penalty shot, which Frolik scored and gave the visiting Hawks a two-goal advantage.
If I am Mike Babcock, I would find it nearly impossible to find myself not ranting on after the game and getting myself fined a few thousand bucks. Of course, in his shoes, I'd be able to afford it!
To have these NHL officials have that much of a say in the outcome of important playoff games is clearly unacceptable. It takes away from the integrity of the game and cheats the players who are busting their butts on every shift, the coaching and training staff with all their preparation and the fans who want to watch exciting, hard-nosed playoff hockey.
At least we got the game back...but not all of it.
The NHL should be ashamed of this kind of stuff.