To say that over the past 8 days that Penguins fans feel they have been handed the short end of the stick by NHL officiating would be an understatement. When we visitited Montreal we saw Brooks Orpik go to the box for defending his crease moments after Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban headlocked and punched James Neal three times in front of Carey Price. During the Rangers game we saw Matt Cooke have a goal disallowed that should have counted, at least according to my interpretation of rule 78.4. The following night Capitals' defenseman John Carlson blatantly elbows Cooke right at the end of the 3rd period. and the NHL decides it was a legal play. Then last night James Neal has a goal disallowed for goalie interference while an earlier goal by Hurricanes forward Jamie McBain was the product of his teammate Anthony Stewart coming through the crease and clipping Penguins netminder Brent Johnson's skates as he tried to get square to the McBain shot.
I am not saying that there is some kind of conspiracy against the Penguins. I am not one of those narrow minded individuals who believes such directives or conspiracies are possible in professional sports. What I will say is that the Penguins have gotten the raw deal in four straight games and it is fuel for the fire that that receiving a fair standard from NHL officials is impossible.I am not going to go into the Cooke disallowed goal or the head shot from Carlson. I've already done that and those posts are linked above. What I do what to talk about are the two goals last night that for the basis of my point that all we want is the same standard of officiating.
This is the only available view McBain's first goal right now but the overhead shown last night on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh clearly showed Stewart's skates clipping Johnson's skates as he tries to move left to right. Stewart was skating freely, he was not pushed through the crease or into contact with Brent Johnson. It was of his own volition.
NHL Rule 69.1 Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal;
In my opinion that is exactly what happened when Johnson was unable to get square to McBain due to Stewart's interference. Regardless the on ice Officials did not huddle to discuss the goal despite the immediate protests of Brent Johnson. The faceoff moved to center ice and play immediately resumed.
The NHL does not have video up of the Neal disallowed goal so my only recourse is to recap it. The puck squirted loose to the left side of Boucher after a Matt Niskanen shot and a sprawling James Neal sweeps the puck into the net to Boucher's left right along the post. At the same time as Neal is sweeping, Evgeni Malkin is in contact with Boucher pushing him to the right, the result of a check in the crease from Hurricane's Captain Eric Staal. When the puck crosses the line the immediate signal from the referee standing directly behind the net is goal.
The officials huddle after the goal and then announce the goal has been disallowed. It is important to note that Rule 69 forbids the use of replay or engagement of the war room in Toronto to aid the determination of Goaltender interference calls so the on ice crew had to come to this determination on their own.
Looking back at both goal situations there are a few questions that truly deserve an answer
- What about Neal's goal merited a huddle despite the on ice call of Goal?
- What about the McBain goal influenced the officials to completely ignore Brent Johnson's protests?
- What was the logic in over-ruling the nearest referee on Neal's goal? He signaled goal and was over-ruled by who?
Look, we won (despite additional terrible officiating on Pascal Dupuis) and earned two points against an Eastern Conference opponent and at the end of the discussion that really is the most important thing. However in four straight games the Penguins have, without a doubt, been on the short end of NHL officiating. All I am asking for is that the standard be applied evenly. If Orpik goes to the box, so does Subban. If Matt Cooke gets suspended for an elbow to someone's head then when someone does it to him, they should at least have a hearing. When someone interferes with the goalie without the aid aof a defender, waive the goal off.
All any reasonable fan wants is for the same standard of officiating to apply to both teams. Call it tight or close, but call it fair for both sides. Let's hope karma swings the other way next week with the Bruins and Flyers both looming on the calendar.