NHL sticks with Game 6 officiating crew for Game 7, opts against refs who botched Game 5

Scott McLaughlin
June 10, 2019 - 9:04 pm
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The NHL never publicly owned up to the poor officiating in Game 5 that cost the Bruins what proved to be the game-winning goal, but it appears there will be at least a sliver of accountability.

According to multiple reports, the referees for Wednesday night's Game 7 will be Chris Rooney and Gord Dwyer, the same crew that has handled Games 2, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Kelly Sutherland and Steve Kozari had Games 1, 3 and 5, and it was Sutherland who watched Tyler Bozak slew-foot Noel Acciari without making a call.

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It says a lot about how bad Sutherland and Kozari were that Bruins fans might actually be relieved to see a crew involving Rooney, as the South Boston native has a reputation of overcompensating and being tough on the Bruins so as not to appear biased in favor of his hometown team.

Looking at the raw numbers, the Bruins have had nine power plays to the Blues' 10 in the three games officiated by Rooney and Dwyer this series, while they've actually had a 12-8 advantage in the three games Sutherland and Kozari have called, so there is a little bit of careful-what-you-wish-for at play here.

That said, if you just look at their most recent performances, Game 5 was probably the worst-officiated game of the series (there's some competition there, to be sure), while Game 6 was probably the best, so going with Rooney and Dwyer makes sense.

Blues coach Craig Berube appears to already be back at work trying to once again sway the refs to let more of his team's dirty hits go. During his Monday press conference, he seemed to lament that some of his players may have held back on some hits because they were worried about getting suspended.

The Blues, of course, are the first team in Stanley Cup Final history to have two players suspended in a single series, as Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev both earned one-game bans for blatant hits to the head.

What's hilarious is that those hits got a combined two minutes of penalty time in the games themselves and Berube still seems to think everyone's out to get his team. Never mind that Jaden Schwartz and and Zach Sanford have also gotten away with hits to the head. Never mind Bozak's uncalled slew-foot, or David Perron hitting Tuukka Rask twice and only getting called once, or Brayden Schenn running Joakim Nordstrom from behind and only getting a two-minute minor when it could've easily been a five-minute major.

The way the series was called clearly changed after Berube first complained about the officiating after Game 3, as both officiating crews began to let more go. That culminated with the Game 5 debacle and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy's postgame rant, which actually didn't seem to have much effect on how Game 6 was called.

The Bruins did score on an early 5-on-3, but both of those calls were obvious ones -- the afforementioned Schenn hit from behind and a puck-over-glass delay of game. The Blues got the next three power plays after that and the final penalty numbers only ended up evening out thanks to the Blues losing their cool late and taking three penalties in the final 22 seconds.

It's worth noting that of the Bruins' four penalties, the only one you could really argue was the interference call against Zdeno Chara, which was a bit soft. Sean Kuraly's delay of game was automatic, Brad Marchand's trip was clear as day, and Charlie McAvoy's trip -- while Vladimir Tarasenko embellished a bit -- was still a trip.

Anyway, here's hoping we don't have to talk about the refs after Game 7.

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