Another playoff game in the books, another controversial incident, and another black eye for the NHL. A great question was posed by a tweeter in our postgame show wanting to know what can be done "about the ref's current inability to keep the game under control." An excellent question and one that has a lot of different components to the answer.
My attempt at an answer, and this is the short version, is that as a ref you have to have a feel for the game. Now I'll admit that NHL hockey is far and away the toughest sport to officiate, but when we see crimes on the ice go unpunished, it leaves you shaking your head and wondering what these sheriffs on the ice are doing. And it goes beyond the Marian Hossa non-call. But we might as well start there.
Raffi Torres, who has been very effective and valuable to Phoenix in this series so far, had just leveled Dylan Olsen -- a pretty sturdy defenseman at 215 pounds -- and Torres was on a roll. He proceeded to catapult himself into Marian Hossa (about six seconds after the Olsen hit) with a well-placed shoulder to the head. Think of it as a 210 pound punch flying through the air and smashing into your jaw. There was a linesman five feet away who must have felt the impact because he started to put his arm up to protect himself when Hossa was knocked horizontal.
Maybe he was watching the puck, but there were three other officials on the ice, two of which have to be watching for just this type of penalty. Not only did everyone miss it, they let Hossa lie on the ice motionless and concussed for a good 10 seconds before they blew the whistle. Head trainer Mike Gapski was already on the ice attending to the victim as 22,000 screaming fans were calling for the refs attention.
It was almost as if they didn't want to see it because they knew they had screwed up. And what was the reaction from referee Ian Walsh? An emphatic whistle and penalty, signalling Blackhawk Brandon Bollig to get to the penalty box. There would be none of these shenanigans on his watch! Wait a second, you ask yourself as you give your head a shake. Did I really just watch this? Where was he 20 seconds ago?
There was a spear that was missed and a flagrant trip that almost ended up in the back of the net for the Blackhawks. And that was all in just the first period. But getting back to the question, its all about feel. As a referee, you have to be so clued in to the game that you have to become one of the players. I can guarantee you that every player on the bench and on the ice saw that illegal hit. I know 22,000 fans did.
No one denies that Mitchell Trubisky needs to continue developing as a quarterback to take the Bears to the next level.
What’s up for debate is how much he needs to improve, and the question will linger well into the 2019 season.
Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 quarterbacks entering the regular season, and they see the Bears quarterback with a lot of work to do.
Trubisky came in 26th, part of analyst Steve Palazzolo’s “Tier 4” of quarterbacks.
“There’s a disconnect between Trubisky’s statistical output and his throw-by-throw performance last season,” Palazzolo wrote. “In order to take the next step, Trubisky must improve his accuracy at 10-plus yards down the field and lower his percentage of uncatchable passes that ranked 31st out of 35 qualifiers.”
PFF did highlight his NFL-best rushing grade among quarterbacks and the value added from Matt Nagy’s offensive system.
But their snap-by-snap grading shows Trubisky needs to be more consistent with this throws, which Palazzolo believes is crucial for the Bears to sustain their success.
NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.
School: Lake Zurich
Head coach: Ron Planz
How they fared in 2018: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Lake Zurich made the Class 7A state playoff field and defeated DeKalb in the opening round. They lost to Mount Carmel in second round action.
2019 regular season schedule:
Aug. 30 @ Fremd
Sept. 6 vs Marist
Sept. 13 @ Zion-Benton
Sept. 20 @ Lake Forest
Sept. 27 vs Stevenson
Oct. 4 vs Libertyville
Oct. 11 vs Warren Township
Oct. 18 vs Mundelein
Oct. 25 vs Waukegan
[MORE: 95 Days to Kickoff - Fremd]
Biggest storyline: New head coach Ron Planz. Can the Bears make the adjustment to their new head coach and keep up their winning ways in 2019?
Names to watch this season: QB/DB Jack Moses (Sr.), LB Bryan Sanborn (Jr.), TE Hunter Welcing (Sr., Northwestern)
Biggest holes to fill: In the trenches. The Bears will need to reload on both the offensive and defensive lines.
EDGY's Early Take: The Bears have a new leader in former Elmhurst College head coach Ron Planz, who originally took the head coaching position at Larkin then took the job at Lake Zurich after Luke Mertens surprisingly stepped down late this spring. LZ welcomes back some key names from a season ago including senior QB Jack Moses, senior TE Hunter Welcing (Northwestern) along with Power Five recruit in junior LB Bryan Sanborn. The Bears schedule is certainly no gimme. Early nonconference tests against Fremd and Marist will great tests right out of the gate. Getting five straight home games to close the regular season is a big plus. This team is hungry to get back into the playoffs and make some noise later this fall.