Two days in to the post-Olympic push, and the referees are already in the hot seat.  While many of the players are shaking off rust from their time off, the majority of referees and linesmen are doing the same.   As we get back up to speed, there will be some challenging moments – both for players and officials.

Causeway Crowd’s Andrew Thompson took referees Brian Pochmara and Francois St. Laurent to task for their performance in the Bruins’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

To be outright honest with everyone, I’m a little surprised the third star of the game didn’t go to one of the [referees]. That was some of the worst officiating I’ve seen all season and it proves that the players weren’t the only ones rusty on the ice. Tyler Myers should have received a double minor for roughing on Marchand. Milan Lucic should have not been called for that board. The NHL should be utterly ashamed of the quality of the refereeing that went one tonight at the First Niagara Center. (That being said, they also missed the high-stick on Steve Ott that should have sent Carl Soderberg to the box for four minutes.)

A total of 22 minutes in penalties were handed out – 12 to the Bruins and 10 to the Sabres.  Each team capitalized on the man advantage.  The Sabres opened the scoring with a goal just after penalty time expired to Boston’s Carl Soderberg.   The Sabres took a 2-1 lead early in the second based on a power play marker from Tyler Myers.    The Bruins netted two power play goals, one that started their second-period comeback and the other that gave them a 4-3 lead in the third.

Five minutes in, Buffalo’s John Scott went off for a questionable tripping call.

In the second period, with the teams tied at one, the Sabres took advantage of a power play chance to take a 2-1 lead on a goal by Tyler Myers.

Myers never should’ve scored the go-ahead goal.  He should’ve been in the box, with a matching minor to go along with the one Francois St. Laurent handed to Brad Marchand.

Boston/Buffalo - Marchand & Myers Spar

(via @PeteBlackburn)

Marchand’s slash was in response to a punch from Myers that went unnoticed as the two battled behind the play.  While coaches and players should know to avoid retaliation penalties, this was clearly a tit-for-tat that happened in plain view of the official.  Sending both guys off would’ve been the right call.  Instead, Marchand went to the box and Myers took advantage, firing a rebound off the end boards past Bruins netminder Chad Johnson.

Things looked like they might get ugly.  Just 33 seconds after the Sabres took the lead, Milan Lucic responded with a crushing hit on Buffalo’s Jamie McBain.  It appeared on the play that Jamie McBain turned at the last moment to put himself in a bad position, but it’s still a bad hit.  Unfortunately for Lucic, the refs will call this one all day long.

The only penalty handed out in the third was an obvious double-minor on the Sabres’ Matt Moulson for high-sticking Boston’s Chris Kelly behind the net.   Kelly went down, bleeding, resulting in an automatic double-minor.  Even for these refs, who had firmly pocketed their whistles, this was a must-call. 

Jack Edwards summed it up best:

Four-hundred miles to the northeast, the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings played a low-call game.   Referees Darcy Burchell and Chris Lee handed out just three penalties through 60 minutes of play.

The first call of the game was nothing more than a shove by P.K. Subban on Darren Helm, who was already down on the ice. Erring on the side of control, rookie referee (16 NHL games) whistled the Habs’ defenseman for roughing.

That call wiped out a Habs power play, setting the teams up for four-on-four play.  Detroit converted just over a minute later, with Todd Bertuzzi opening the scoring on a shortened Wings power play

Overtime brought a bit more controversy, as far as the officials are concerned.  Again, P.K. Subban was involved. This time, he drew a hooking penalty on the Wings’ Tomas Tatar – and was called for diving on the play.  Both players went to the box, setting up an overtime three-on-three. Neither team was able to leverage that extra space to their advantage.

“We could debate [the diving call on Subban],”, Therrien said after the game, “but I don’t have any comment.”

Subban leads all Canadiens players with 30 minor penalties this year. That total is good enough for fifth-most in the NHL.

Andrew over at Habs Eyes on the Prize put it into perspective:

There are going to be excuses given for the Habs’ lacklustre performance, but none of them hold water. […] “The penalties against P.K. Subban were bogus.”   Yes, they both were, yet Montreal had [3:46] of powerplay time to Detroit’s [47 seconds], so who cares?

Montreal Canadiens Defenseman P.K. Subban

Montreal Canadiens Defenseman P.K. Subban (Photo: Bridget Samuels)