Bruins on brink of elimination after brutal non-call
Hockey at the professional level is a fast game, one that is only getting faster. Missed calls are going to happen, it’s part of the game. Referees are paid professionals and they are human, mistakes will be made.
What happened in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final Thursday night however, was unacceptable. A blatant uncalled trip or slew foot, whatever you want to call it, led to what ended up as the game-winning goal in a game that dictated who does and who doesn’t get the chance to play for the Stanley Cup in Game 6 Sunday night.
“The non-call on [Noel] Acciari, their player [Tyler Bozak] is on his way to the box, it’s right in front of the official, it’s a slew foot. Our guy is gone. The spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion. I mean it’s blatant and a big effect on the game,” a frustrated Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said.
“I mean this has happened and I’m a fan of the game, this is the National Hockey League and they’re getting a black eye with their officiating in the playoffs and here’s another one that is going to be talked about. I thought it was a great hockey game. So I guess to answer your original question, it [the call] was egregious.”
It’s instances like this where you really wish officials were made available to the media following games. Doing so would hold them accountable for their actions and give them a chance to explain what they did, or didn’t see.
When it comes to why they did not call Bozak for an infraction, please do not give me the whole Acciari embellished it argument and why bother calling both a trip and embellishment when you can let them play excuse.
Because what about this “illegal check to the head” on Vladimir Tarasenko earlier this series?
“It’s a missed call, I think it’s a big outcome in the game, they scored a goal off it and it ends up being the game-winner,” Acciari said.
“Just kind of embarrassing.”
The non-call on Bozak was not the only issue of the night that came from the men in stripes. Hits to the heads of Zdeno Chara and Marcus Johansson, as well as one of those low bridge hits by Brad Marchand on Tarasenko all went uncalled. Three dangerous plays in a game where the league is “doing their best” to remove that from the game.
“Well those are the hits they want to get out of the game, correct? Those are the hits that I hear a lot about, clearly they missed a couple tonight,” added Cassidy. “It’s a fast game. I sat here two days ago or whatever it was and said I believe these officials are at this level because they earned the right to be here and you should be getting the best.”
As poor as the officiating has been across the board in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there’s a moment you can turn to in the series and say ‘hey, that changed things a bit.’
That would be shortly after the Bruins 7-2 victory in Game 3. A contest that saw the Bruins convert on all four power plays they went on.
“I don’t agree with all the calls. We were the least penalized team in the league in the first three rounds. Now, all of a sudden, we’ve taken  penalties in one series,” Blues head coach Craig Berube said following Game 3. “We were the least penalized team in the playoffs coming into this round. Now all these penalties.”
Since Berube’s comments after Game 3, the Bruins have had five power play opportunities to the Blues four. But it’s more of what has been called and what has not been called then the numbers show.
“The narrative changed after Game 3, there was a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition and it just seemed to change everything,” added Cassidy.
With two wins in his back pocket since comments after Game 3, and the bulk of calls going his way in Game 5, Berube no longer wants to comment on the officiating.
“I’m not here to judge the officials and calls that could have been or couldn’t have been,” said Berube. “They go both ways. I mean, there’s calls the other way that could have been called and they weren’t, so I don’t know what to say about that. I really don’t want to say anything about it.”
Sure, the officiating was brutal, and it did have an impact on the game, but it is not the lone reason as to why the Bruins lost in Game 5.
I feel the Bruins lost the game in the first period.
Feeding off the energy of the crowd, and finding motivation behind captain Zdeno Chara playing with a broken jaw, the Bruins came out buzzing, dominating the first 20 minutes to the tune of 17 shots. But with Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington playing one of his best periods of the series, the Bruins failed to take a lead into the second period.
55 seconds into the second, Ryan O’Reilly backhanded a puck past the glove of Tuukka Rask and just like that, all the momentum the Bruins built in the first period was gone.
“I’m not sure to be honest. I think it’s more so a fact of, you know, I think that we did have a lot of chances and pucks just weren’t bouncing our way and then they started bouncing their way and they capitalized,” forward Jake DeBrusk said of what changed after the first period. “It was one of those things where they just got the first goal and we tried to move on from that and respond but you know they got on their game pretty quick.”
I thought the Bruins did a better job in Game 5 of working their way through the Blues heavy forecheck and had much cleaner breakouts out of their own zone as a result.
My issue with the Bruins effort was their inability to get to the net. As sharp as Binnington was in Game 5, putting forth by far his best effort of the series, it seemed almost every shot was followed with a juicy rebound, but with no Bruin in sight to clean up the trash.
The Bruins had 39 shots against Binnington in total, only seven of those came off of rebounds. The Bruins finished the night with 11 high danger shots for.
DeBrusk finally broke through in Game 5 with a five-on-five goal from the top-six, but if the Bruins are to go into St. Louis on Sunday and force a decisive Game 7 next week, they will need much more from their top two lines.
Through five Stanley Cup Final games, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, David Backes and DeBrusk have combined for one, just one five-on-five point.
Chara, who missed about a period and a half in Game 4, and played through Game 5 with a broken jaw has more points five-on-five (two) than the Bruins top-six does combined.
The officiating, the top-six, breakdowns in their own zone. A lot needs to be better in Game 6 if the Bruins would like one more contest in front of the home crowd.