From the New York Post’s Larry Brooks:
There is no excuse for the NHL’s dereliction of duty in overseeing and supervising the playoffs. The parade of scandalous errors made by on-ice officials has tainted the tournament. And the absence of accountability emanating from both Sixth Avenue in Manhattan, USA, and Bay Street in Raptorsville, Canada, has been unconscionable.
After a season in which skill was celebrated across the continent and the speed of the game dazzled, the NHL has intentionally turned the playoffs into something else entirely.
The officials are routinely refusing to enforce any type of standard. They’re not missing calls, they are simply not making them. How is it possible Ivan Barbashev was not penalized for his headshot on Marcus Johansson when referee Steve Kozari was 10 feet away and looking directly at the collision? The only inference that can be drawn is referees have been instructed by those higher in the food chain to allow mayhem to prevail in the most important games of the year. No penalty, yet a one-game suspension.
Why not go all the way and refuse to call offside?
This is not necessarily brand new. But the extent of it is. When officials decided against making calls in the playoffs that would have drawn a whistle in the regular season 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years ago — Denis Potvin’s overtime winner in Game 1 in 1980 against the Flyers represented the first OT power-play goal in finals history — it was a rough-and-tumble league. The changeover this year has induced whiplash.
What is the NHL’s message here? We’ll more or less protect you in the regular season (not all the time on head shots), but you’re on your own, guys, in the playoffs when it counts most? Beautiful.