Let’s just address the elephant in the room and get it out of the way. The officiating in this game was piss poor. It goes beyond that, really. It was embarrassing. I was embarrassed as a hockey fan to see the way in which this game was called tonight. It wasn’t just bad calls against the Wings. The goaltender interference penalty on Heatley was atrocious. It’s the kind of call the Wings have had go against them for years and it doesn’t look any better when it goes against the other team. The two calls against Bertuzzi tonight were abysmal. I don’t think the referees think twice about making those calls if the name BERTUZZI isn’t sewn across the back of the jersey. It’s uncalled for, it’s embarrassing and the NHL needs to do something about it.
That leads me to my next point. Brad Watson and Kevin Pollock need to be fired. If any of us do that poor of a job at our professions, we get terminated. It’s not like it’s the first time with these guys. The simple fact is that officiating should be not be this large of a deciding factor in a National Hockey League playoff game. This needs to be a pressing issue and you just don’t get the sense that the league cares at all. There won’t be disciplinary action. Gary Bettman isn’t going to say anything. Until there is a precedent set for this kind of shoddy officiating to be done away with, it’s going to keep happening. It’s disgusting.
Taking all of that into consideration, the Wings need to blame themselves for losing this game. For as many terrible calls as there were, there were plenty that were legitimate and were taken at very inopportune times. For instance, the too-many-men-on-the-ice call with just over a minute to go. Or Dan Cleary’s slashing penalty. Or Valtteri Filppula’s tripping call. All real penalties. The penalty kill can only do so much. Jimmy Howard can only do so much. The Wings were too sloppy for much of Game 2 and it cost them.
Can somebody explain how the Red Wings are suddenly incapable of winning a face-off? I mean, how does that happen? They were so consistently dominant in the circle during the regular season and now, nine games into the playoffs, they can’t win one to save their lives. They’re not just losing them, they’re losing them at the worst possible times. It’s such a seemingly small part of the game, but it continues to burn them. They need to re-discover some of their fundamentals.
Joe Pavelski is playing out of his mind. He’s doing everything right. The Versus guys joked that he could have been selling popcorn at the game, too, and that’s really what it felt like. It kind of felt like the performance Johan Franzen routinely turns in this time of year.
Speaking of The Mule, where are you?
In a game I really expected the Wings to win, they take a step back. It will be in vogue for many Wings fans to cite the officiating as the reason the Wings lost this game, but it’s obviously more than that. A few bad calls do not a playoff loss make. I’m pissed off about it, too. Something needs to happen. But taking the stance that it cost the Wings the game is too easy. A 2-0 hole is certainly not inescapable, but the Wings are going to need to be a hell of a lot better and smarter when they get back to The Joe.