Referees Make Up Penalties, Cost Caps Two Goals

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Posted May 13, 2018

Tom Wilson is clearly interfering with someone in this picture. (Caps Outsider)

Two blatantly awful penalties called against Washington in the first period of Sunday’s Game 2 victory against Tampa Bay cost the Caps two goals. While neither kept the Caps from achieving their 6-2 win, at the time they gave the Bolts a 2-1 lead. Replay shows that no penalties should have been called against Washington, and one should have been called against Tampa Bay.

The first came against Tom Wilson, who was driving the net and being hooked from behind by Chris Kunitz. With Kunitz on him as he missed the centering pass, Wilson jumped to the right to avoid a collision with the goalie, knocking the net off before he was called for goaltender interference. Of course, Tampa Bay scored on the ensuing power play.

NBC’s Eddie Olczyk weighed in: “This should have been a penalty on Chris Kunitz. It should have been a power play for the Capitals.”

Later, T.J. Oshie swatted at a puck in the air, which he batted into the face of a Lightning player (it’s hard to do that on purpose). Oshie got called for high sticking as if he hit the player in the face with his stick. Of course, the Lightning scored on the ensuing power play.

NBC announcer Doc Emrick wasn’t sympathetic, belittling how it affected the game and acting as if the play-calling was merely something Washington fans would be unhappy with.

“Fans don’t want to wait for more reviews. There’s gotta be the human factor.”

While there is certainly a ‘human factor’ in reffing – players often get away with quite a bit – calls like these become prime exhibits that can’t serve any purpose other than to embarrass the league.

Had the Caps killed off these penalties, perhaps Caps fans would’ve been quicker to forget it. But Tampa Bay’s power play is deadly, obviously, and staying out of the box is crucial in this series – for either team.

Those who benefit from bad play-calling are quick to accuse the opposing team and fans as being whiners. This is typically reserved for on-the-edge calls that could go either way, or lopsided number of penalties against a team. These same folks may even defend the calls as make-ups for missed penalties elsewhere. If that’s what hockey is – a game where refs don’t call real penalties but make up for it by calling fake infractions – I don’t ever want to watch it again.