BOSTON – It’s an awfully big shame that the biggest topic of conversation after a Stanley Cup playoff game is an egregious non-call that impacted the final result in paramount fashion, but here we are once again.

There was no penalty called on Nikita Kucherov hauling down Charlie McAvoy behind the Boston net that resulted in a turnover to Tampa, and a quick pass from J.T. Miller to Steve Stamkos for the Stammer Hammer one-timer to tie up the game late in the third period. That effectively served as the gut punch for a Bruins team that was cruising along in the third with a one-goal lead, and eventually led to a 4-3 overtime defeat at Tampa Bay’s hands in Game 4 at TD Garden.

The Bruins now trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven series as it heads back to Tampa, and things are looking grim for a Boston club that’s now got legitimate beefs with the officiating in both Games 2 and 4 in the second round playoff series. Certainly, Bruce Cassidy wasn’t holding back after watching Kucherov wrap both arms around McAvoy while tackling him to the ice without even a hint of an infraction from the on-ice officials. 

“[We] seem to be going down this road a lot lately in these things, about the non-calls,” said a clearly agitated Cassidy following the back-breaking overtime loss where his Bruins actually played very good hockey. “It looked like [Kucherov] reached around and pulled him down. Charlie’s a strong guy, but it wasn’t called, and it’s in our net, and that’s that. There was nothing you can do about it after[ward]. You’ve got to keep playing, and we did, but they made the first play in overtime. 


“You’d have to ask the players [how hard it is not to dwell on blown calls]. We tell them not to, but we’re human beings. It’s game after game after game. At the end of the day, you’ve got to find a way to play through it. We’re all kind of tired of talking about it. I think I heard someone say ‘suck it up and play’ and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to ‘suck it up and play.’ I thought we did a good job with that. There was no unsportsmanlike, no warnings and we just tried to keep playing. That’s that.”

For the most part, the players in the Bruins dressing room were looking to avoid direct criticism of the officials with a clearly miffed McAvoy opting not to comment about the non-call at all. Leave it to Brad Marchand, however, to have something to say following Game 4’s loss after the non-slashing call on his breakaway chance left the Bruins short in the crunch time of Game 2.

“We had the lead. It was a very blatant grab on Chuckie’s [Charlie McAvoy’s] shoulder,” said Brad Marchand. “[The play] turned into a goal, so you know, the missed calls that are costing goals and games, you know, it’s unfortunate that they can’t get it right. So hopefully they can fix that.”

In all truthfulness, if the on-ice officials truly desired to fix the clear imbalance then handing the Bruins a break or two on their own home ice probably would have been the way to go in Game 4. Clearly, that didn’t happen soon enough, though, so now the Black and Gold conspiracy theories are starting to come together for a Bruins team that’s quickly lost the upper hand in their second-round playoff series.