NHL’s ‘Game Management’ in Full Effect

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Posted May 18, 2021

What, me embellish? (Caps Outsider)

Three weeks ago, referee Tim Peel was fired after he was caught on a hot mic talking about wanting to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators. It sparked a conversation about referees and how they manage a game. In Monday night’s Game 2 between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins, the referees were in full management mode.

In Game 1, the power plays were 4-1 in favor of the Bruins, an anomaly for league were everyone not only knows, but expects, that things will even out. The Game 2 referees, Chris Lee and Jean Herbert  corrected course.

In the opening 20 minutes, penalties were about even – three called against the road Bruins and two against the home Capitals. In the second period, the officials called a penalty on Washington to make the penalties even at three.

And the refs were determined to keep it that way.

In a span of 3:23 seconds, the referees called six penalties, three on each team, all two at a time.

First they called Connor Clifton for interference, but had to ding Tom Wilson for embellishment.

Forty-one seconds later, Brad Marchand was called for slashing a post whistle scrum while Anthony Mantha was whistled for high sticking.

Where does Mantha’s ice-white stick make contact with Marchand?  In addition, the officials missed a spear by Marchand, which is what started the fray.

But the officials went for the hat-trick.

The last offsetting penalties in the period were given to Nick Jensen and Craig Smith each for roughing.

In all situations, the penalties were called at the time. Jensen does hold Smith, but the ref doesn’t call that. He lets that slide, until Smith is cross-checking Jensen in the head. That’s when he makes the decision that Jensen also needed to head to the sin bin.

The reason the refs decided to make it all tit-for-tat, wasn’t because they thought there were penalties on the plays, but because they needed to keep an already chippy game from reaching a boiling point.

Thought the year, the number of officials are slimmed down, from a full cast in the regular season to a more selective cast in the playoffs. They are supposed to be the best.

So then shouldn’t the best of what the NHL has to offer for officiating be able to keep a game from reaching a boiling point without taking guys off the ice two at a time?