It happened again. Like a broken record, a missed call impacted another big game last night in Boston. The Blues led Game Five by a goal in the third period. Then came another officiating disgrace.
With St. Louis applying forecheck pressure, Tyler Bozak clearly tripped up Bruins forward Noel Acciari. That key play kept the puck alive. Eventually, David Perron had a centering feed bank in off Tuukka Rask for a 2-0 St. Louis lead.
Even rival fans who have no love for Boston are up in arms over the controversy. This says it all.
The reaction from the Bruins home crowd at TD Garden was predictable. Debris was thrown onto the ice in protest. Sadly, the angry fans were right. It was as bad a miss by an officiating crew in such a crucial game. Their team trailed by a goal against a stingy Blues defense that’s been the difference in the series. They won the game 2-1 to have a chance to win their first Stanley Cup on Sunday in Game Six.
What made it worse is Jake Debrusk scored on a delayed penalty to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 6:28 left in regulation. In essence, the game should’ve been tied. Instead, due to an egregious miss on what was a slew foot by Bozak on a unsuspecting Acciari, who left the game to be checked out for a concussion, the Blues had enough cushion to hang on for the one goal win in Boston.
When the four officials miss such an obvious call, it reflects poorly on the league. That it’s become a staple in the NHL Playoffs is unacceptable. Whether it was a crew missing a hand pass by Timo Meier that resulted in Erik Karlsson scoring in overtime to beat the Blues, or a St. Louis defenseman getting away with a head shot that injured Tomas Hertl, the incompetence has never been worse.
Cheap shots seem to be a St. Louis specialty. This was undetected in the same game on Thursday night.
Fortunately, Marcus Johansson was able to continue. He’s had a history of concussions. But he didn’t miss a shift, and was probably the most effective Bruin. Of course, they’ll have a hearing today with Blues forward Ivan Barbashev.
So what if he gets suspended. It was another blatant miss by the two refs and two linesmen. There’s also this from the NHL. They seem to have omitted the Bozak trip that put Acciari down leading up to the Perron goal.
Unbelievable. It’s almost as if they are in denial. Stephen Walkom is another talking head that drew this reaction from me last night.
Personally, the Blues are the better team. They’ve outplayed the Bruins due to their physical style and heavy forecheck. Time and space have been taken away from the Boston top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and a very disappointing David Pastrnak. David Krejci has been blanketed by Ryan O’Reilly. Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo have dominated the big match-up with their size and defensive positioning.
St. Louis deserves to have a 3-2 series lead with a home Game Six for Lord Stanley. Rookie Jordan Binnington delivered his best game of the postseason by making 38 saves. That included stopping a strong Boston attack with 17 saves in a lopsided first period to keep the game scoreless. When he wasn’t busy making big saves, he had some help from the goalpost on a Marchand high labeler ticketed for the back of the net.
Even if we praise the Blues for showing the same resolve they gave throughout this run by taking Games 4 and 5, it doesn’t prevent us from pointing out the obvious. The officiating has never been worse. There are too many controversies that have marred hockey’s signature tournament. Bad calls should not decide games that were as well played as last night’s. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said it best.
He’s a fan of the game. Just like all of us. We love the sport. It deserves better than this.