Refs ineptness doesn’t help Rangers in 1-0 shutout loss to Stars

Zucc! Mats Zuccarello answers questions before the Stars faced his former team. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Dallas Stars.

Screw the recap. I’m just going to post this gif from The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman. Let it sink in. Watch closely. Mika Zibanejad tries to avoid hitting Radek Faksa. He sees a vulnerable Faksa in a tough spot after taking a Chris Kreider check from the side. The puck is there.

Zibanejad even turns away but the momentum carries his butt into Faksa, who stayed down for a few minutes before getting up. That they could deem this a major and game misconduct shows the total incompetence of the programmed officials due to the league mandate.

I’m not gonna bother with the names of the two refs or two linesmen. There’s no point. This kind of stuff happens all the time during games. They even got together and discussed the play and completely got it wrong. I don’t even think it was a minor penalty. The puck was there. All you have to do is look at Zibanejad’s reaction following the unfortunate play. He just stands there and signals for help.

The Rangers lost the game to the Stars 1-0 on a John Klingberg goal in the second period. That was it. Unfortunately, the story became the poorly officiated third period, which also included a sadly predictable hook on Kevin Shattenkirk for a meaningless play in the neutral zone. Yes. He did hook into Mattias Janmark with 2:44 left. It had no affect on the play.

In a close one goal game, that shouldn’t be called. Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe the way these contests are reffed. Basically, they handed the desperate Stars the two points. They’re battling the Wild and a few other teams for playoff positioning.

I have no issue with Dallas winning the game. Ben Bishop did what he usually does against the Rangers. He made 28 saves to pick up the shutout. Hopefully, he’s okay following the chaos that ensued with two seconds remaining in regulation. Ryan Strome was pushed into him following a last second try by Filip Chytil around the net.

The rough conclusion resulted in some matching roughing minors to Brady Skjei, Tony DeAngelo, Jamie Benn and Roman Polak. Somehow, they gave Strome an extra for cross-checking and a misconduct. They couldn’t even get that right.

It’s embarrassing. When you have games that are well played and hard fought by the Rangers and Stars, the NHL officials should get out of the way. For the most part, they did in Newark where the Binghamton Devils kinda deserved a better fate than the 2-1 shootout loss to a lackluster Blue Jackets. In that one, they let the players decide it.

It’s very telling when you have Rangers players carefully choosing their words on what originally was no penalty to Zibanejad. Brendan Lemieux told John Giannone that he didn’t want to get in trouble, but also noted that those are tough calls because the refs didn’t see the play. It winds up being called by a linesman, who’s not in the best position.

There’s way too much inconsistency from game to game. Take the goal they counted for Ottawa that forced the Islanders to overtime.

Yes. Brady Tkachuk was pushed into Robin Lehner, who didn’t finish that game. But how is Lehner supposed to stop the puck? The Isles took it in a shootout, 5-4.

I want to comment on Mats Zuccarello for the way he handled the questions prior to the game. Obviously, he didn’t play due to still recovering from surgery for a broken arm. What really shined was Zucc’s personality in the eight-plus minutes he spoke.

Asked about close friend Henrik Lundqvist’s reaction to the trade, he deadpanned, “He’s a good actor,” to laughter from reporters.

On his relationship with former linemate Zibanejad, he told the press Mika FaceTimes him every day. “Mika, he misses me like I was his boyfriend.”

The personality on Zuccarello is why he’s so beloved by teammates, coach David Quinn, fans and media. What a great person. I hope he is able to get back and help the Stars make their playoff push this Spring. He’s so likable and easy to root for.

Finally, Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves in his second consecutive start. He becomes the first Rangers rookie goalie to appear in at least 25 games since Dan Blackburn. Talk about a blast from the past. Poor guy was so unlucky.

Quinn wasn’t pleased with quite a few players from tonight’s game. Why Lias Andersson didn’t play while Brendan Smith gets a regular turn on the fourth line is a real head scratcher. I get that they’re evaluating the young kids. Boo Nieves played well.

The team has a lot of center depth. Chytil is still a center even though he is being used on the wing. Ryan Strome is centering the second line. He has enough versatility to play both center and wing. It’s clear that Quinn views Andersson as a center based on his answers yesterday. It looks like the same for Brett Howden, who centered the third line in his 50th game.

The organization has some tough decisions ahead. That includes whether to sign top prospect Vitali Kravtsov to an entry level contract. His KHL team Traktor got eliminated in the playoffs. As far as I know, the ELC won’t slide if he plays. That includes the AHL. I say get him signed and let him get a taste of the NHL. Why not? That’s what it’s all about. Let’s see what he can do.

That’s gonna do it. I don’t have anything else to say on that game. No three stars. The next game is at Detroit on Thursday. Another team playing for lottery position.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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2 Responses to Refs ineptness doesn’t help Rangers in 1-0 shutout loss to Stars

  1. hasan4978 says:

    Wow, that major call was…unfortunate.


    • Derek Felix says:

      It was just a very bad call. The kind we either see or we don’t get anything called at all in these games. Of course, they rescinded it. Doesn’t matter much. At least it wasn’t substantial for them.


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