Officiating, yet again, rears its ugly head in pivotal moment
“I don’t have anything to say about the officiating,” Charlie McAvoy said moments after the Bruins’ Game 4 overtime loss to the Lightning.
McAvoy easily could have vented about the men in stripes, again, after another frustrating night full of head scratching calls and non-calls. After all, McAvoy was on the receiving end of the most frustrating non-call of the night after Nikita Kucherov held him as the ex-Boston University standout attempted to clear the puck out of the zone.
Instead, McAvoy turned the puck over to J.T. Miller, who set Steven Stamkos up for his patented one-timer to tie things up at 3-3 with 7:04 left in regulation.
“Yeah, you know, we had the lead. It was a very blatant grab on Chukie’s [Charlie McAvoy’s] shoulder,” Brad Marchand said. “Turned into a goal, so you know, the missed calls that are costing goals and games, you know, it’s unfortunate that [the referees] can’t get it right, so you know, hopefully they can fix that.”
Lightning get away with a hold, Stamkos ties the game pic.twitter.com/VCrepEpP11
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 5, 2018
Marchand knows about those frustrating and impactful non-calls. He was on the receiving end of that in Game 2 when Anton Stralman slashed him on a breakaway attempt late in the third period with the Lightning leading 3-2 down in Tampa.
As bad as the Game 2 outing was, Game 4 was even worse and not just for the non-call on Kucherov. The calls, themselves, were quite bad on both sides. Noel Acciari going off for hooking earlier in the third period? Check. Tyler Johnson slashing Zdeno Chara for retaliating after a big hit — just seconds after Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead? Yep, Chara sold that. Call it a makeup call.
Well, you’d have to ask the players that. We tell them not to, but we’re human beings. It’s game after game after game. To me, you know, the calls – you look at the [Noel] Acciari penalty, it’s unbelievable that the league gives you directive at the start of the year that if you’re going to go at the stick, you’ve got to go under the stick and not on the hands, over top the hands…he goes under the stick a foot from his hands, and you’ve got a six-foot-five guy that, I think, really sold it, and I think the officials have to be on top of that.”
Even more frustrating? The Bruins had all the momentum on their side after falling behind 2-0 — for the second straight game — in their best performance of the series. But that went for naught after Stamkos’ equalizer and Dan Girardi’s tip-in game-winner at 3:18 of the extra session.
“You lose in overtime, any team will tell you it’s hard. Put ourselves in a hole early; we dug ourselves out of it. Gave up a late goal, we just discussed that,” Cassidy added. “I thought the non-call impacted the play directly, and that’s that. In overtime, they won a puck battle along the wall, made a play.”
The Lightning made that one last play in overtime. Maybe they still bounce back and tie things up if Kucherov is called for holding McAvoy, but that’s hearsay.
The Bruins had their chance to overcome another tough call against them. They didn’t. And now they’ll put their season on the line — most likely without Torey Krug — in Game 5 Sunday afternoon in Tampa.
“Desperate hockey,” Bergeron said about the team’s mentality. “You know, we’ve shown character all year. You know, I’ve spoke[n] about that — about the resilience in this room — so it’s time to show it.”