Official's Blunders Wreck A Great Habs - Bruins Matchup


I'm very angry and disappointed with the Canadiens / Bruins game. The contest was building up to be quite a battle, but in the end, it was neither team that decided the outcome - it was the officials.

I cringe at writing such words. I despise excuses. I hate the sour taste. I would rather explain my team's loss by their mistakes or by an opponant's worth in game.

I watched this game twice, as I often do when there is a need to be absolutely certain of what I am about to bitch forth.

In the settled dust of Tueday's game, I cannot say the Bruins were superior in this contest. I also cannot suggest the Canadiens deserved to win. I did see two clubs doing many good things that would normally point to victory. Montreal was robbed on some excellent chances by Bruins goaltender Thomas, and seemed to generally carry an edge in the game's first half. Credit given - Boston for their part, did what they needed to do in the third period to shut down Montreal and preserve a slight margin.

Apart from the efforts the two clubs displayed, the game was altered by a series of disgusting missed and boggled calls by officials in the middle period.

It began somewhat, with a bogus call on the Bruins' Michael Ryder, who was sent off for hooking at 2:35 of the second period. What I saw right then was David Krejci trip Maxim Lapierre, who was carrying the puck at that moment, but I gather the officials had their gaze elsewhere but the play.

On the ensuing powerplay, Andrei Kostitsyn scored to make it 1-0 Montreal. I still have yet to see what Ryder's foul looked like (perhaps it was off screen), so the Habs goal may have a been referee giftwrapped.

By the very next incursion of the Canadiens into Bruins territory, a rulebook pick and choose by officials was underway. Matt D'Agostini had just dumped the puck in the corner, when he was clearly punched in the face by Boston's Matt Hunwick. The play went on without a call.

Calls such as this are often ignored, and that's all good and fine if it is adhered to at both ends with some semblance of consistency. With the Canadiens carrying some momentum at this point, the non call was hardly crucial, but it set a precedent for what was to follow.

Now officials closing their eyes on an such infractions are one thing, but when it is followed up moments later by a call so trivial, and so on the fringe of debatable judgement that it is laughable, my blood begins boiling.

With the Bruin's Zdeno Chara off for delay of game, the officials decided it was even up time, and went on the lookout for the closest thing resembling a breaking of the rules.

Caught up ice slightly and hustling back on a Boston two on one, Patrice Brisebois supplied the officials with exactly what they were waiting for. As Brisebois caught up to the Bruins penalty killer, he gave a lame one handed stick swipe at the Boston defender's stick, hardly nudging the stick off the puck. The play carried on with the puck carrier hardly even slowed, but the officials arm went up nonetheless.

Considering all that is let to pass in a game, this call was absolutely infuriating. (Especially considering the sight of Guillaume Latendresse being stick hacked seven times along the boards later in the game, while owning the puck for a good fifteen seconds.)

Shortly after, Chara exited the sin bin, and he scored on the ensuing Bruins power play.

Is it me, or does it always seem that only penalties that should have gone uncalled, result in goals?

At the 10:40 mark, Boston's Aaron Ward was sent off for a fully merited holding call. In the latter stages of the powerplay, the Canadiens were buzzing around the Boston net, when Max Pacioretty, standing on the crease's edge, was crosschecked so hard he left his feet. The puck was nowhere near Pacioretty at that moment, but the officials could not have missed him falling forward and landing on Thomas. Pacioretty had just picked up his stick, which had been kicked from his grip by a Bruins player. Two ignored calls that would have given the Canadiens a 30 second 5 on 3 were swept under the rug.

Eight minutes later, the officials messed up so badly, the errant calls had repercussions for the remainder of the game. Two back to back skewered decisions gave Boston all the edge they would need to win.

As the Canadiens were pressuring the Bruins in the Boston zone, the play moved towards the side board, where Boston defender Ward stood a foot from the wall, set to play a puck at his feet. It was at this point the Habs forward Andrei Kostitsyn stepped into him, solidly and cleanly, taking him out of the play. The hit was all shoulder. Ward, angled, left himself somewhat unprotected, but you could actually see Kostitsyn relent, bringing an elbow down before taking him out of the play with a respectable crunch.

Ward then crumbled to the ice in a heap, and it looked as though his helmet had impacted against the glass, to no fault of Kostitsyn's, who seemed to deliver a clean regulation check. That Ward was ill prepared to assume the hit, never factored in. Kostitsyn was called for boarding.

Now this boarding rule, is as frivolous to me as the puck over the glass / delay of game call that always makes the league look so bush. Chara had just been called for it, in fact. I don't like it called, period!

The NHL rulebook describes the boarding offense in this manner:

"A minor or major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, based upon the degree of violence of the impact with the boards, shall be imposed on any player who checks an opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to be thrown violently in the boards."

Now when I term the rule frivolous, my take is that it should never be an official's judgement whether it was the boards or the hit that caused the injury - at least not without a full video review of the play.

Now as I stated at the top, I often watch games twice. What I caught on the second turn was extremely revealing. Had a game official seen what actually occured, Kostitsyn would not have been assessed any penalty at all.

Ward's injury, which you can bet will not be disclosed by team ot league, was not a result of his head hitting the glass, nor did it come about from anything having to do with the Kostitsyn upper body hit.

Seconds prior to the incident, Ward was in the slot assuming his coverage. It is unclear because of a cluster of bodies, but Ward emerged from the play at the net with a hobble in his step and stride. The replay clearly shows him putting weight on his leg, and then losing his balance slightly as he favors it. As he regains his posture, the play comes back to his side, and he limps to the board to play the puck. It is at that moment that Kostitsyn hits him. If anyone is privelege to a replay, focus not the hit itself, but on Ward's left foot, which is wedged against the board when Kostitsyn hits him. The Canadiens player's skate is placed directly in front of Ward's boot, and that, combined with whatever caused Ward to limp in the first place, is what put him out of the game.

As it initially appears, Kostitsyn is completely innocent on the innocent looking hit. If at first you thought, as I had, that something about all this doesn't add up, didn't add up. Officials should be allowed a review of an infraction before assessing a major penalty that could impact a game's outcome.

If that isn't common sense to you, your father is Jeffrey Dahmer and your mother is Charles Manson. The logic is that cut and dried.

The NHL rulebook then stipulates:

"Any unnecessary contact with a player playing the puck on an obvious "icing" or "offside" play which results in that player being knocked into the boards is "boarding" and must be penalized as such. In other instances where there is no contact with the boards, it should be treated as "charging".

This is where what Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas did next comes into play. Have a look at his actions here:

Thomas, by the rules, is guilty of charging. You could also say it is a deliberate attempt to injure. I felt his actions were way more flagrant than the Kosdtitsyn hit, but yet all Thomas received was a two minute minor for roughing. Jokes should be funnier than this.

After the minor that Thomas himself did not have to serve himself ( that's a whole other issue!) the Bruins were on what amounted to a three minute power play. Two minutes and 31 seconds into it, Habs defenseman Roman Hamrlik was called for cross checking - and he totally deserved it.

What got my ass all red about the call, was that it was exactly the same uncalled infraction perpetrated upon Pacioretty earlier, when the Habs were playing 5 on 4.

Of course, Boston scored the winning goal here, off none other than a shot off the stick of Zdeno Chara, that deflected off Andrei Markov's blade.

From then on, the game was Boston's bagged. They played shut down hockey for 20 more minutes, and the final accounting went into the books.

I feel totally ripped off!

In all truth, with the multitude of screwups made by the officials in this game, the score really could have gone either way at any point. That was how out of synch they were with a half dozen calls that required judgement during the game.

Bruins fans of course, will not see any of this. They will see a win by their team, and that is all. But the roulette of bad officiating dictates that what goes round, comes around.


I've ranted about when the Habs have won when they shouldn't have, and I will never ignore it when it affects a game in which they have lost. I think NHL hockey fans should expect a higher standard than this crap.

This game was a pivotal match for two of the league's better teams, and the officiating let it down big time.

Putting all this down, does nothing but embitter me. I would much rather have offered my views on the solid performances of Latendresse and Jaroslav Halak, or given my thoughts on the longtime respected rival Bruins squad, who are more than worthy of a tip of the hat for their accomplishments so far this season.

My apologies for having to spill all this venom. I would have rather discussed a battle between a pair of well matched teams.

In regards to Kostitsyn's major, I would hope that the Habs send a game film to the league's head offices to clarify the cause of Ward's injury. Should Andrei be handed another five minute boarding major along the course of this season, he will be suspended for one game.

Making Kostitsyn shy to throw a hit for the rest of the season, is hardly what the Canadiens need.

"Any player who incurs a total of 2 game misconducts for Boarding under Rule 44 (b), in either Regular Season or Playoffs, shall be suspended automatically for the next game of his Team. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game."


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