Okay I'll admit right away that I have not been able to watch all the games of the post season, but I have seen enough to make me want to write this.
We all know by now that the post season is a time when things get ridiculous in the National Hockey League. Emotions are running high, play gets more physical and tempers start to flare. If you thought the officials had a rough job during the regular season trying to police things you were right, but now it's even tougher.
So far I rate the officiating in the games I've watched as an 8 out of 10. Giving a perfect ten would be that there were no "make-up calls" or otherwise questionable calls, and there were no missed calls where the infraction was in clear view of the official. These guys are human and they make mistakes, I'm rating them based on how they handle those mistakes. The better job they do to limit the mistakes the higher the rating.
Now why do I rate them as an 8?
For starters lets take a look at what they've called. The officials have done a good job of calling penalties the same way for each team between the whistles. A slash for Philadelphia is the same as a slash for Pittsburgh, a cross-check for St. Louis is the same as a cross-check for Vancouver.
Looking at the post-whistle play, when pushing and shoving can quickly get out of control, the zebras have been quick at jumping in and preventing things from getting uncontrolled. Making things better for them is that they have done a great job of taking just one player from the scrum (usually the guy that started it) and sending him to the box alone, or taking two from one team and one from the other. I've been waiting to see that all year from the officials and, after watching the Vancouver-St. Louis game last night, I firmly believe that it works. The rough stuff settled down and the game was allowed to continue. Guys got the hint that they were hurting their teams by starting trouble after the whistle and they calmed down.
Philadelphia tried the aggressive scare tactic late in the game against Pittsburgh, and the officials were having none of it. Instead of sending the message that Game 2 won't be as easy, the Flyers sent the message that they'll make it easy by heading to the penalty box. The Flyers are so out of control right now I give Sean Avery and the Rangers a four-game sweep if they played Philly right now. Avery would pester Scotty Hartnell until he forced out of the game (probably by the second period) and with all the time spent on the PK, Philadelphia would be unable to establish a rythem.
Now for the bad:
Matt Cooke gets hit in the face with something (appeared to be a high-stick on the replay) and there was no call. I don't know how the offcials missed the blood running out of his nose and mouth, but they did.
In fairness to the Flyers, the goaltender interference penalty on Scotty Hartnell was questionable. There was a clear push from behind by Kris Letang that contributed to the contact, but I can't make a strong enough case that Hartnell would not have made contact with Fleury without that push.
There have been a couple of offsides and icing calls that I have wondered about, and the Sidney Crosby powerplay goal that gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead can still be called into question. For that play I trust the video replay guys in Toronto and at Mellon Arena, but I'll admit it was close.
And finally today. In game one of Detroit-Columbus there was a scrum after the whistle where Tomas Holmstrom got cross-checked by the Blue Jackets defenseman in front of the net. No call? Really? Okay. But when play resumes Holmstrom gets called for interference for returning the favor? I agree with the call, but what's with the one-sidedness in front of the net?
Overall I have to give the officials credit for doing their jobs so well in the early stages. They are truly cracking down, especially after the whistle, which will only make the playoffs more interesting as teams get the message and we start to see more 5-on-5 time.