Officiating: What’s Going on Here?

Babcock:  “It does me no good to talk about this.”

I meant to get this posted before Game 3 but like a great engineer, I left my computer behind when I visited Tucson.  Could I have borrowed a friend’s?  Hell yes but I was having too much fun.

Anyway, the officiating in this series is bad, as we all know.  But it’s bad everywhere.  The Philadelphia – Buffalo series has seen some strange calls, the players for the most part bring it upon themselves with stupid penalties but still, Game 2 saw 30 PIM in the first twenty minutes.  Only one fight in that stanza so it’s not as though it was a straight violent game.

 And sometimes officials use heavy enforcement to settle a game down that is too intense.  I get that.  But this game was different.  Players didn’t know where the lines were going to be drawn so they pushed as far as they could.  Penalties were called but not at the right time in this series.  Nasty stuff after the whistle is okay but get your stick parallel to the ice?  No sir.

So it’s not just the Detroit series.  Scary stat?  My work shows there was a total of 30 000+ PIM over the course of the season, 1 230 games.  That’s about 25 PIM per game on a given night, more if you’re watching a team cling to a lead against the Chicago Blackhawks.

In this postseason, just 23 games in, we are at 532 PIM.  That’s more like 36 PIM per game, more if you’re watching Detroit called for things like “unfair checking of Ed Jovanovski by a guy who’s way to fast to be hitting people and plus Jovo has a face mask uh-huh!”  Which was 2:00.  And completely ridiculous on all levels.  Ten additional minutes per game this postseason?  Fighting majors aren’t that high, they’re calling minors and chintzy bull&^%$ if you ask me.

My worry is that officials are trying too hard to have a say in how the game is played.  Sure, refs can dictate a game if it looks like it’s getting out of hand by enforcing misconducts and the like, but that’s not what is going on here.  What’s happening is that players can’t get a read on how the game is going to be called because the calls are so inconsistent.  Helmer’s Game 2 penalty was a perfect example.  The hit was ABSOLUTELY clean and Jovo needs to do a better job of shouldering the incoming contact.  It wasn’t late, the puck had just left his stick and Helm definitely did NOT leave his feet.  It was called for Boarding, but Jovo’s pinching of Helmer’s cheeks in a “I’d give you a toughguy kiss on those sweet lips if it weren’t for this damn face cage” sort of way was totally legit.

Sometimes the players take time adjusting to how the game is called.  But if “how they call it,” as in “what they call and when,” keeps changing then the players might never adjust.  Also, a PP has a lot to do with how a game ends up.  It does more than just lead to a goal or nogoal; it can lead to higher ice time for top D-men, a broken bone on a blocked shot, juggling of lines to compensate for 2:00 without a guy, and can really shift momentum.

I’m not happy about how the calls are going and when they happen this year, and it’s the worst I think I can ever recall.  Just glad the Red Wings are good enough to not let it bother them as much as it does me.