Turns out that retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser, one of the most respected officials ever in the sport (outside of bitter Maple Leafs fans), saw the Blunden/Rangers altercation from Saturday night the exact same way Habs fans did.
Fraser, current TSN special analyst/blogger for officiating issues, states:
When a dust up like this happened to me on the ice I always did my best to subscribe to the K.I.S.S. theory (keep it simple stupid) to get the game going as quickly and efficiently as possible. There's no sugarcoating this one.
This is my penalty assessment on the play after watching the entire episode:
MTL: 2-Minute Bench Minor Penalty - Too Many Men on the Ice
MTL: Mike Blunden - 5 Minutes Fighting
NYR: Ryan Callahan - 2 Minutes Instigating + 5 Minutes Fighting + 10 minutes misconduct
NYR: Brandon Dubinsky – 2 Minutes Roughing
MTL: Hal Gill - 2 Minutes Roughing
MTL: Petteri Nokelainen – 5 Minutes Fighting + Game Misconduct (secondary altercation)
NYR: Michael Sauer - 5 Minutes Fighting + Game Misconduct (secondary altercation)
Montreal would then place a man in the penalty box to serve the bench minor and New York would have the option to place a man in the box to serve Ryan Callahan's minor or the logical move would be to have Brandon Dubinsky serve his minor on the clock so as not to sacrifice another player in the box when cancelling out the coincident major and minor penalties. The teams would play 4 on 4 (Not 5 on 3...)
Clearly Montreal had Too Many Men on the ice when Mike Blunden came onto the ice and made body contact with Brandon Dubinsky while Blunden's retiring teammate was still physically on the ice. (Rule 74.1 - If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or the retiring player is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called.)
Dubinsky clearly had received the puck on the stretch pass and would be deemed in possession; therefore the check that was put on him by Blunden could not be deemed "interference". The contact was a perfectly administered body check (shoulder to chest) and would have been deemed legal save for the fact that Montreal had six skaters on the ice.
As well as:
In a perfect world an instigator penalty would have been assessed to Callahan for the distance he travelled to grab and start a fight with Blunden. The referee could then send a clear message that the initial infraction was being called (Too Many Men on the ice) and if restraint had been shown the non-offending team (Rangers) would go on the power play. Not the case here either as the wrong message was sent and the Rangers gained a two-man advantage.
In short, the Habs got screwed here, and there's no two ways about it. Then the officials poured salt in the wound with several weak calls going against the Canadiens while the Rangers got away with frequent hooks and holds.