Look, I’m not one to think a game is ever entirely lost because of bad officiating. Losers point fingers. Players still have to play the game and regardless of the zebra’s there are multiple opportunities to score, or just get a puck out, that can separate yourself from your opponent.
That being said, the officiating from Martin St. Pierre and Dan O’Halloran in the Bruins/Leafs game last night was a joke. Combine that with Boston’s lack of finish (and an invisible second line) and the B’s put themselves in a position to be bent over a chair by incompetent stripes at an inconvenient time. And that’s exactly what happened.
The Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 win over Boston has now put them one point (81) behind the Bruins (82) in the race for the playoffs. The “4-point swing game” was a massive blow to the Bruins divisional positioning with the B’s set to face another divisional rival, Ottawa, tonight. Now the stakes get even higher.
But before we crack a cold one at puck drop later let’s look at some of the entertaining nonsense from last night:
- Patrice Bergeron took one of those hits “we have to eliminate from the game” last night that was ultimately brushed off as a no big deal two-minute minor. I’d like to know what the reaction would have been had it been Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid taking that same hit. I imagine the Canadian hockey media would have had the world spinning in the opposite direction like they were Superman:
- Brad Marchand was held without a shot on net all night. He wasn’t terrible by any means, as he beautifully set up David Backes for his first period goal, but it wasn’t the “63 Show” we’ve been used to seeing lately. Marchand’s back certainly deserves a break from carrying the offensive load for this team, but when Dominic Moore has six shots on net in comparison that usually means other go-to guys aren’t picking up the slack needed to win.
- Tuukka Rask on the other hand was picking up the slack. He was flat out brilliant. He made some highlight reel stops while having that “ho-hum, I’m bored as hell over here” look. That’s the look of a guy in the zone, and he was. Unfortunately for Tuukka the Leafs two non-empty netters, which included the game winning power play goal, came seconds after a couple of those dazzling saves he was making all game. I know it’s back-to-back games but I go right back to Tuukka tonight as well.
- Speaking of the Leafs 2nd ranked power play; here is the ticky-tack bullshit the officials handed them on a Subway party sub platter with three minutes left in the game:
- Nikita Soshnikov (the same guy who boarded Bergy) identifies Moore as his man in the slot and turns to get inside positioning on him. Moore beats him to the space, and like a center in basketball about to post up, we now have a situation in sports commonly known to functioning adults as “a battle”. A thing in all sports where two guys wanting their space are allowed to compete. However, the ref decides he should get involved too and gives Moore a two minute penalty for being stronger than Soshnikov. That’s the same punishment as hitting a player from behind. I’m not going to ramble on here, but if that’s a play the ref decides he wants to make himself a part of with the game on the line then some one should remind him he missed the other 99 times it happened last night.
“I thought it was an egregious call, to be perfectly honest with you,” Bruce Cassidy said, per The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa. “That’s a guy driving the net. Their guy’s there. It happens probably 100 times during the course of the game.”
- The refs also stopped play when the Bruins had clean possession in the Leafs zone because Matt Martin was trying to crab walk his way back to the Leafs bench on one good skate blade after he broke his other skate blade at the far end of the ice away from the play. Just some more banana land, insomnia inducing officiating for you to try wrap head around like old people at Cracker Barrel doing a pre-dinner puzzle.
- Toronto had the better scoring chances all night. Again, regardless of poor officiating the Leafs forced Tuukka to be great and really generated a lot of consistently nice looks. Overall, it was a real entertaining game with that playoff feel we all hoped for. It’s hard not to find that young, fast Leaf offense entertaining.
- The Leafs need to burn their “blues” and stick with the green throwback St. Pats jersey’s. They might be the best sweaters I’ve seen other than the “Miracle” 1980 U.S.A. jersey’s.
- Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Pastrnak line can be broken up any second now and I’d be happy. It’s just not a good thing and it wasn’t last night. I’d much rather see the B’s go back to Peter Cehlarik on the wing with the David’s if necessary. He’s got better vision, better hands, and better speed than Beleskey in a skill wing role. And they had a little mojo going as a unit a couple week ago.
- Bruce Cassidy just experienced his first back-to-back losses as Bruins head coach. And although the B’s are at home a lot in these final three weeks it’s going to start feeling a lot like the past two seasons trying to close out games to make the playoffs. The pressure will continue to increase. Can the Bruins close the door on teams chasing them? And will the “new coach boost” sustain? With teams like Chicago, Washington, Nashville (twice), and Tampa (twice) still to come we’re going to find out how much gas is left in this tank real soon.
Puck drops at 7:00PM tonight at the Garden when the Ottawa Senators visit the cuddly Bruins. Let’s hope the boys in black show up ready to go and that Martin St. Pierre and Dan O’Halloran stay home.
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