Trailing 3-1 in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, the Caps’ comeback efforts were hindered as with less than nine minutes to go, they were given a delay of game penalty off an icing call and they don’t seem to know why.

After getting called for icing, the Caps were in the process of figuring out who needed to stay on the ice when all of a sudden, the referee skated to center ice and called them for delay of game.

When a team is called for icing, the same players of the team that iced the puck must remain on the ice. This becomes more of an issue the later you get into a game and the players get more and more tired. A common tactic teams use in these situations is to attempt to change lines after the puck is dumped, but before the icing is called and then plead ignorance with the referees. Worst case scenario typically is that the refs will make the players come back onto the ice, but you’ve at least given them a few extra seconds to recover before the faceoff.

Every team has used some sort of tactic like this to delay a faceoff. Every one of them. Rarely is there ever a penalty called and that’s what made Thursday’s penalty so surprising.

As the Caps tried to sort out who needed to get back onto the ice and who needed to come off, they evidently took to long for the referee’s liking and he booked them for delay of game.


There was no hesitation by the referee and, according to head coach Todd Reirden, no explanation either.

“I didn’t get an explanation,” Reirden said following the game. “I’m not going to get into and I’m not going to comment on it. There’s supposed to be communication between the official and the coach and there wasn’t any. So I have no real comment because I wasn’t talked to.”

TSN reporter Ryan Rishaug said the Caps were warned prior to the penalty about delaying the game off an icing call.

At first glance, you would think the Caps would have been more careful in that situation, but this is a call you really never see. Considering that every team tries something similar, it’s easy to see why Reirden was so frustrated.

The next time the Caps see an opponent try a similar delayed line change or a player “accidentally” leans on his stick and breaks it prior to the faceoff, no doubt he will remember this game and demand a penalty.

But it wasn’t the only bizarre call of the night.

Earlier in the third period, Dmitrij Jaskin was sent to the box for a faceoff violation after replacing Nic Dowd in the faceoff dot. It appeared the linesman faked the drop when Jaskin stepped into the circle, thus drawing his stick and the penalty.

“We’ve talked about the faceoffs this year that they’re going to be more ready to kick people out of faceoffs,” Reirden said. “That’s something that we know is an area of focus.”

By rule, when a team has two players thrown out on the same faceoff, that team is given a delay of game penalty for a faceoff violation. That’s in the rules so you can’t fault the linesman for calling it, but it seems like a pretty lousy move to try a pump fake to draw the penalty. Should linesman be faking the drop at all anyway?

The Caps did not lose because of either call and they did manage to kill off both power plays, but those penalties still had an impact on the game. That’s four minutes of the third period in which the Caps, who were trailing, could not get their top offensive lines on the ice and could not push the attack. These calls greatly affected Washington’s chance at a comeback and it was for two calls that probably did not need to be made.

Two judgement calls in the third period by the refs is certainly a tough pill to swallow in what was already a frustrating night in Edmonton.