My friend once told me:
"The Penguins dive more than any other team in the NHL. Worse, they seem to get those calls! What is going on!?"
I always thought he was crazy. But then, I started watching the game objectively for myself. Here's what I found.
The Penguins, are diving. Left, right, center. Game 4 was almost completely decided by the refs. Here is my break down by period.
1:12 - Gonchar Interference
*Neal skated RIGHT INTO Gonchar; fell down waving his arms like a man drowning, draws the call. That, was a DIVE.
5:57 - Greening Interference (Second interference call in the first 5 minutes of the game)
*Letang completely dove here. If anything, Letang was interfering with Greening. Letang went in, interfered with Greening, fell down, got the call. This is the 2nd dive of the game; and Pittsburgh is now 2 for 2 on dives.
1:00 - Kunitz cross-checks Karlsson from behind.
How was this NOT a call?? How could this possibly be considered a non-call???? It was a cross-check, to the back. It's right there, on the replay. Kunitz drifts in, cross-checks Karlsson on the back. Karlsson goes down injured. No call. ?
5 seconds after, Kunitz gets a breakaway. Everyone is wondering "why is he so wide open??" Well, because he JUST INJURED HIS MAN BEHIND THE PLAY WITH A CROSS-CHECK TO THE BACK. That's how.
That is a game changer of a non-call.
1:40 - Letang trips Michalek.
Michalek enters the zone. Letang's stick reaches in, and trips Michalek. Who falls. A stick to the skate. Textbook tripping. That's what tripping is. When a player uses their stick or other part of their body to trip another player. That's called a trip. The refs have to call that. Especially considering that Power Plays are at this point 2 for Pittsburgh, 0 for Ottawa.
Michalek loses the puck (after he falls, because he was tripped). The play goes on and turns around the other way. 4 on 2. They score an easy goal on a rebound off of a discouraged team.
Please note at this point: Calls are now 2-0 in favour of the Pens. They called Gonchar for interference on a non-play. Yet, they won't call an obvious trip on Michalek when he is entering the zone on an attack. Okay. Am I hallucinating here??
18:32 - Cooke Slashing
This was a make-up call if ever there has been one. Then again, Cooke slashes like that ALL GAME LONG. In the immortal words of Don Cherry,
"That's just the way he slashes. That's just the way he does it. He just slashes like that."
Mark Stone had gotten past him; Cooke slashes him from behind. All in a day's work for Cooke. That's all he ever does. I counted 12 times he did that in that game alone. He could consistently be called for slashing. He could literally have 12 slashing calls per game if the refs wanted. But fine. It's a make-up call. Thank you for showing up FINALLY refs.
1:07 - Gonchar High-Sticking
The dagger call. This call that ended the game. Regardless of who you cheer for, this is DEFINITELY the wrong call. If you want to call it "roughing" or "interference"; you are still wrong. But fine. Perhaps it was just a bad call. But don't you dare call this "high-sticking". No stick touched the player's face. That, is NOT a high-stick.
What it really was, was two players jostling in front of the net. Cooke slashed at Gonchar's ankles; Gonchar shoved Cooke. And then, Cooke completely dove like a cheap whore looking for nickels. It's on the replay. Clear as day. A dive. Third Dive with success of the Game.
After that, everything else is irrelevant. The game was over right there.
At that point, calls are 3-1 in favour of Pittsburgh. Plus, 2 non-calls that led to goals against. If they had made the appropriate calls at the appropriate times, the score would still have been 2-1 (assuming the Sens hadn't scored on the PPs that they didn't get).
Instead, it's 4-2. The refs have completely handed over the game at this point. Ottawa had clearly given up at that point. And, why not? This is a total crock of shight. Why should we continue playing??
The sad thing, is that this completely overshadows Crosby's incredible backhand goal. I mean, that was absolutely spectacular. But then, we have to take it in the context of the game. Ottawa had given up by that point. They just let Crosby walk in. So, nice goal. Nice display of skill. But, not a great goal. And furthermore, it had no relevance to the game whatsoever. That's really too bad.
So, there is a so-called "Crosby Conspiracy". It's right there. Clear as day.
But please, if you wouldn't mind. Before you go and start ripping up this opined piece, please go and watch the plays, and be the judge yourself. I think it's pretty obvious when you look at it.