I know I said I was not going talk about the officiating any longer, BUT...my dearest friend and fellow North American, Luongo07, continues to call me out and accuse me of not researching. (well, at least most of that last sentence is true!) So, as I set out to get the full scoop on the officiating in the Stars/Canucks series, I realized it was a much bigger issue than just the way game 7 was manipulated. For those of you number lovers out there, you will dive into the plethora of statistics...as for the rest of you, get a cozy seat! The table below looks much better on Excel, but oh well!
Team, Game # Eliminated/Advanced, Total Series Penalties, Total Elimination Game Penalties, 3rd Period/OT Penalties in the Elimination Game, %
Anahiem Ducks, 5, 41, 6, 0 ,0%
Buffalo Sabres, 5, 22, 4, 0, 0%
Detroit Red Wings, 6, 42, 4, 3, 75%
New Jersey Devils, 6, 34, 10, 1, 10%
New York Rangers, 4, 25, 4, 2, 50%
Ottawa Senators, 5, 39, 8, 3, 38%
San Jose Sharks, 5, 34, 7, 5, 72%
Vancouver Canucks, 7, 50, 7, 3, 43%
Atlanta Thrashers, 4, 35, 6, 3, 50%
Calgary Flames, 6, 49, 5, 3, 60%
Dallas Stars, 7, 47, 11, 5, 46%
Minnesota Wild, 5, 31, 5, 0, 0%
Nashville Predators, 5, 45, 9, 3, 33.3%
New York Islanders, 5, 27, 4, 1, 25%
Pittsburgh Penguins, 5, 36, 5, 1, 20%
Tampa Bay Lightening, 6, 39, 8, 1, 13%
ZERO penalties were called in the 3rd period/OT's for 3 teams, including both teams in the ANA/MIN elimination game. ONE penalty was called for 4 teams, and TWO for 1. THREE penalties for 6 teams and FIVE for 2. 8 teams got penalized twice or less, and 8 teams three times or more. The DET/CAL game 6 had a total of 9 penalties called, with 6 of those coming in the 3rd/OT...while the NJ/TB game 6 had 18 penalties called, with only 2 coming in the final period. The biggest game of them all, DAL/VAN game 7, also had 18 penalties called, but with EIGHT coming in the 3rd. How is this for "irony"...in game 6 of that series, it was the exact same numbers but opposite teams...funny how that works out! In addition, game 5 of the same series (also an elimination game), contained only SEVEN total penalties, with only THREE in the 3rd/OT. How does a team go from 3 to 7 to 11 penalties, or 4 to 11 to 7 in 3 games? Do they really play that different? How does one game 6 have 7 penalties in the 3rd/OT and another have only 2? 5 of the 9 teams facing elimination had 3 or more penalties called in the 3rd/OT...while the other 4 teams had 1 or 0 penalties called. 5 teams facing elimination spent between 6 and 10 minutes of their final periods killing off penalties--that's TEN OUT OF TWENTY, or HALF OF THE PERIOD! Between 33.3% and 60% of the total calls came in the 3rd period and overtimes, for those 5 teams. Of the other 4 teams facing elimination, 3 of them spent TWO minutes each on the kill, while Minnesota spent NO TIME AT ALL! The percentages being 0% or 25% of the total calls. Those 4 teams had the entire 3rd period/OT to attempt to extend their seasons. Of the 9 teams facing elimination, 3 of them had 20% or more of their total series' penalties called in their final game. Those teams were Nashville, Tampa Bay, and Dallas...all of them lost. The Stars led those teams with 23% of their total series' penalties coming in the final game...which just happened to be a game 7.
So where am I going with all of this...what does it mean? Let me preface my comments by saying I am more than thankful that the game has opened up. Undoubtedly, the hooking and grabbing and clogging up the neutral zone had to be abolished; the next step is ridding the NHL of the cheap shot artists who have no respect for the game or fellow mates. I realize the officials are human beings...I know they will always make mistakes...I know perfection is unattainable...I know the game is extremely fast-paced...I know I could never do their job! I have made significant strides in my attitude and behavior concerning officials. I simply ask and hope for a FAIRLY called game! Is that too much?
(Stay tuned Canucks' fans...I'm about to reel you in!)
Last night, as I watched the two 'Yucks battle it out in game 2, I was gleefully preparing this blog...as the most perfect lead-in was unfolding before my eyes. I was giddy...sitting at the edge of my couch...ready to cheer at the moment the Ducks took a 2-0 lead in the series. Granted, it was more about "see, I told you so" than this blog...but who's counting! Unfortunately for me, the Jekyll and Hide Canucks hung around long enough to catch a break, and for that I give them credit. Vancouver was clearly the better team for most of the game...yet they continued to find themselves in the box. Naslund played his best game since game 2 of the Dallas series. He stole a puck from Pronger (a feat in itself), turned on the jets, and fired a perfect shot for his second goal of the playoffs. The captain was great...yet he made his way to the sin-bin THREE times, including ONCE IN OVERTIME! All three calls were highly questionable, but to put the game on the line by calling the Captain for an iffy (at best) tripping call in OT...WHAT A JOKE! While on the other end, Luongo earned yet another goalie interference call--even though he was a foot outside the crease!?!
Simply put...we cannot continue to allow the officials to control the game. Sometimes they are invisible, but all too often they manipulate the flow of the game, influence the reaction of teams/players, and even determine the outcome. Last night was a rare example of a team beating another team, as well as the officials. Most of the time diversity is a good thing...but coming from the officials, it is tarnishing this game (and I'm not talking about race!). The opposite of diversity is uniformity...referees are anything but that! Politics play a major role in officiating...there are way too many factors involved in their decisions; a specific result of this is the multitude of make-up calls. Another thing to remember is that these men have egos, just like the rest of us...and too many times their attitudes factor in. I am all for them allowing the skill to be exhibited during the games...even if it means countless penalties...but to carry over the ticky-tack calls, diversity, politics, and egos into the playoffs is a travesty; and into a game 7...preposterous!