More on Game 5
Upon some extensive highlights viewing and sombre (or is that sober?) reflection, this wasn’t “a great, great game.” It wasn’t even a great game.
What it was, however, was nail-biting and fairly decent entertainment — as soon as you could get past the phantom penalty calls thrown in the mix. Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean has been mercilessly pummelled in some circles for how he acted and the questions he asked in his Game 4 interview with hockey disciplinarian Colin Campbell (see video here), but at least someone on high is refuting this silliness.
Of the 15 penalties called in Game 5, two thirds were of the hooking/holding/tripping variety and some were downright awful calls. They simply were. And, no, it’s not an indictment of the sport or either of the teams playing to say that.
Players may still be ‘making adjustments’ (as the apologists claim), but if any teams were going to have learned from what was called this season, it should be Edmonton and Carolina, who’ve both now played more than 100 games that count under the new standard.
I’m more on the side of MacLean and Tom Benjamin on this issue, as we need to have at least some critical, impartial voices when poor calls are made. (On the flipside, when referees do a good job in a game — as has happened at times these playoffs — that also deserves mention.) As I’ve said before, too often the ‘analysis’ of the new officiating standard hasn’t fallen all that far from outright cheerleading.
That said, I like that more stick fouls are being called because there really isn’t any scenario where a defending player needs to have his lumber touching an opponent. Still, a zero tolerance approach is leading to far too many non-penalties being whistled down and traditionally poor referees being lauded as top of the class.
That doesn't work for me.