Then, an offsides challenge was made. Filip Forsberg’s foot was maybe offside. The referees took forever. Finally, the goal was waved off. This was how close the call was.
The complexion of the game changed completely from that point forward. Pittsburgh won 5-3, even though they only had 12 shots on goal.
The next game was also a mess. This hit from Matt Irwin was not considered a penalty.
And this is a penalty.
However, so is this.
That most people agreed with Mike Milbury’s rant during the intermission is astounding. Milbury ripped the referees, stating there was no margin for error and that the inconsistency hurt the play of the game.
He is right. There was no consistency from Game One to Game Two. Game One had six total penalties. Game Two had over double that. A video review overturned a goal in both games, but only one was for sure offsides.
So what can the NHL do to fix the poor refereeing in the playoffs? There are a few things they should consider.
The first is that any offsides coaches challenge should immediately be sent to Toronto. They have plenty of angles on huge screens and can nitpick better than the refs can on an iPad. It is a change the NHL must make next season. This offsides review has already decided the fate of one game.
The next is that all referees who work the playoffs attend a seminar discussing how to call games in the playoffs. There is a difference between regular season calls and postseason calls in that less are called. However, the league must demand consistent call throughout. It might mean letting small stick checks go. Or, it could mean a little more jostling is fine. Referees’ calls must be consistent throughout the playoffs though.
Finally, the NHL should grade their referees at the end of the season. Maybe they could use the stats provided by scoutingtherefs.com and see which officials called what and when. After this, the referees could make their necessary adjustments to improve.
Referees are supposed to enforce the rules of play and let the players play. So far in this series, it is the refs that are playing and coaches trying to enforce the rules. Who else is mad at the refs?