Focus is on poor officiating in these Cup playoffs, and that's bad news

Focus is on poor officiating in these Cup playoffs, and that's bad news

BOSTON – It was surprising to see/hear Blues head coach Craig Berube complain about the officiating between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final given the kind of physical, envelope-pushing style that St. Louis has employed throughout the postseason.

It’s been even more surprising to see the NHL seemingly bend over backwards to appease Berube in the last couple of games, as the Bruins have been awarded only a handful of power plays while the Blues continue to smash the B’s in the face.

There was Ivan Barbashev's elbow to the head of Marcus Johansson that went uncalled in the first period and set the tone for everything else to come in Boston’s 2-1 loss in Game 5 at TD Garden on Thursday night. (Barbashev will have a hearing on Friday)

Then there was Zach Sanford drilling Torey Krug in the head in the second period, with no penalty called. And Alex Pietrangelo holding on to Krug’s arm for nearly five seconds on a play that opened up a scoring chance for the Blues, requiring David Krejci to jump in front of the goal to block a shot with his chest.

But the coup de grace for the Bruins was Tyler Bozak kicking Noel Acciari's legs out from under him while the B's forward had the puck. There was no tripping call on the play, as the Blues gained possession and immediately capitalized on David Perron's game-winning goal. In a Stanley Cup Playoff where blown calls have been the hot topic for hockey debate, the way things unfolded in Game 5 was unfortunately appropriate.

“That’s a penalty every time. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it," Torey Krug said. "I’m all for letting us play, but when it leads to scoring chances and the opposing team ends up with the puck, it should be going our way. It should be a penalty. They [the officials] missed one there, I think.”

The NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom released a comment to a pool reporter following the game that essentially just told people to deal with it.

"We don't make comments on judgment calls within games," Walkom said. "There are hundreds of judgment calls in every game. The official on the play, he viewed it and he didn't view it as a penalty at the time."

Truth be told, Walkom should have been forced to step out to center ice and read that statement in front of the 16,000-plus Garden fans who forked over thousands of dollars to attend a Stanley Cup Final game, and then watched 60 minutes of blown calls and whistle swallowing where the officiating shouldn’t have been the first topic of discussion afterward.

The whole situation left a Bruins dressing room full of pissed off players who couldn’t understand how a series could be officiated differently after one complaint from the Blues coaching staff. They also couldn’t understand how a crew of officials could miss a blatant tripping call that led directly to the game-winning goal.

But then again, this is the same group of referees that missed the puck hit the netting in Columbus, missed a clear hand pass for the Sharks' overtime game-winner in St. Louis and won’t call another major penalty in these Stanley Cup Playoffs after butchering one badly in the Sharks/Golden Knights series.

“The narrative changed after Game 3. There was a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition and it just seemed to change everything," head coach Bruce Cassidy said. "The non-call on [Noel] Acciari, their player is on his way to the box, it’s right in front of the official, it’s a slew foot. Our guy is gone. The [concussion] spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion. It’s blatant and a big effect on the game."

What was the talk on the bench after the missed tripping call on Acciari led to the Perron goal and a 2-0 lead for the Blues?

“What was being said on the bench was that you missed an F-ing call, is what was being said on the bench, for obvious reasons," Cassidy said. 

"After that we had to settle down and play. We thought we got screwed but you got to keep playing and we did. We scored the next goal and gave ourselves a chance to win. We tried to rally around that moving forward."

The NHL has a mess on its hands and has two more Stanley Cup Final games to clean it up and change the conversation. Right now the focus is still on the shaky level of officiating in the playoffs and the blown calls, non-calls and catcalls from the fans that have hung like a cloud over the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Maple Leafs captain John Tavares out for upcoming games vs. Bruins

Maple Leafs captain John Tavares out for upcoming games vs. Bruins

The Bruins have a big week ahead of them with three games against Tampa and Toronto starting with tonight’s tilt against the Lightning at TD Garden, but things just got a little bit easier for them.

The Maple Leafs announced that John Tavares will be out for the next two weeks after suffering a broken finger in Wednesday night’s loss to the Washington Capitals. That means the Leafs captain will be out for both Saturday night’s home tilt against the Bruins and the Tuesday night finale to the home-and-home series at TD Garden.

Tavares has three goals and seven points in eight games thus far this season, but it’s still a massive loss for Toronto even if he isn’t off to the hottest start among Leafs forwards. Unfortunately, it may not be too much of an advantage for the Bruins with top-6 center David Krejci also banged up with an upper body injury and out for at least Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Krejci’s availability for both games against the Maple Leafs is also in question after being forced out of Monday afternoon’s win over the Ducks, and being forced to sit out a divisional game against Tampa Bay tonight.

Tavares had just one goal and two points along with a minus-2 in four games against the Bruins last season, and traditionally it’s been Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner that have done most of the damage offensively vs. the B’s in recent seasons.

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Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) out tonight vs. Lightning

Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) out tonight vs. Lightning

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins will continue the juggling act that’s been going with David Krejci (upper body) for much of the early season as the top-6 pivot is out for tonight’s important divisional game vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Krejci exited Monday’s win over Anaheim after two shifts in the second period, and then left midway through Wednesday’s practice ahead of the showdown with the Bolts. Krejci’s absence obviously has a cascading effect among the rest of the forwards as Charlie Coyle will be bumped up to second-line center, and Par Lindholm will draw back into the lineup as the third-line center between Danton Heinen and Karson Kuhlman.

Otherwise, second-year D-man Connor Clifton will also come back into the lineup fold for the Bruins vs. Tampa after serving as a healthy scratch while Steve Kampfer replaced him on the B’s back end on Monday.

“I think I had been okay. I hadn’t been at my best. We were winning games and I’m back in tonight. So I’m worrying about that,” said Clifton. “You want to play your best. It’s early and I’m cleaning things up, but I expect to be ready to go tonight.”

Tuukka Rask will get the start in net as Cassidy and Co. may begin deviating from the strict goaltending rotation sooner rather than later with some important games coming back up for the Black and Gold.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings with Brett Ritchie serving as a second-line right wing while Anders Bjork continues to tear it up for the Providence Bruins:


Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk Charlie Coyle Brett RItchie
Danton Heinen Par Lindholm Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Chris Wagner


Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton


Tuukka Rask

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