Every night there is a stupid play or call that gets people talking.
If you've spent any time on NHL Twitter, you probably think that the NHL replaced it's referees with random dudes about a month ago.
That isn't the case.
The NHL refereeing is the same as it ever was.
Which isn't exactly a ringing endorsement, but someone has to point out the obvious:
Twitter/social media/ the 24 hour sports shows make it seem like things are worse than ever. What is worse than ever is the influence of social media and the internet. That's it.
There are more people talking, talking louder, and complaining than there ever have been before.
Ten years ago, the NHL only had to worry if the media was teaming up on them. Now fans all have a voice and that voice is used collectively to bitch.
So when something bad happens - like in game two of the Leafs / Bruins series where the refs completely lost control of the game, or the several non-calls that have gone in the Bruins favor over the course of these playoffs, things look worse than they are.
But they are pretty bad.
It's just that they always have been.
The problem isn't with the refs, it's with the NHL's rules.
If you apply the rules of the game, you get 100 penalties per game. Therefore, the refs have to decide what is a penalty (the eighth cross-check) vs what isn't a penalty (the first seven cross-checks).
Furthermore, this leads to the refs becoming paranoid about over-effecting the game, and they employ a "let them play" mentality that confuses everyone about what is and isn't a penalty, and runs the risk of games getting out of control.
Additionally the refs try (and fail) to limit their influence on the outcome of the game by calling even-up penalties that penalize teams that follow the rules and reward teams that are dirty.
Oh, and they have an un-written rule that that says the rules change between the regular season and the playoffs, then again when the game is close, or close to being over.
So yes, the officiating in the NHL is laughably bad.
But just don't think it's any worse this year than it has been in the past. Confirmation and recency bias will make us think it's true, but it's not.