So About Those Penalties…

NOT PICTURED: Officials Stephane Auger and Dan O’Halloran acknowledge the crowd after being named the first stars of the night. (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

It was a ridiculous night in sports: Winnipeg beat the Flyers 9-8, P.K. Subban dropped the gloves (and almost kayoes himself), and David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals hit a walk-off homer to force a Game 7 in the World Series.

So when the Capitals were whistled for NINE penalties in two periods of play (four in the first, five in the second), it kinda went with the theme of the evening. One of those penalties, a Troy Brouwer hook, led to Edmonton’s game-winning goal. Goodbye, 82-0 season. Haha.

“You have to adjust when you’re out there,” a remarkably calm Bruce Boudreau explained after the game. “You have to know who the ref is. If they’re calling it loose… okay. But if they’re calling every little thing, it’s up to the players to be able to adjust to it. In the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it. Some people don’t. You get to know pretty early if they’re calling it and who’s going to call what.”

Sure, I guess. Well, with the power of photo and video, let’s take a closer look at some of Auger and O’Halloran’s — um, brilliant — work from last night.

Karl Alzner’s Groin Gets Two Minutes For Holding The Stick

Karl Alzner probably squeezes his legs together a little at the end there. But is this really something that gets called while the the Capitals are already killing a penalty? Alzner took issue with the holding-the-stick call after the game and even admitted to The Washington Times that some of the penalties really got under the team’s skin. “I think we got a little bit too worked up there, yelling and screaming about the calls when there’s nothing you can do about them once they’re [made].”

Mojo Catches Puck, Underhand-Tosses it 60 Feet Down the Ice

Okay, so this was totally a penalty. Marcus Johansson closes his hand on the puck and then chucks it down the ice Jennie Finch-style. “I think some calls, like my call, was a stupid call,” he told Stephen Whyno. “At least some of us think some calls shouldn’t have been called, either. But it’s his decision, and we just didn’t have the bounces or the refs with us today.”

Maybe Marcus doesn’t completely understand the rule. One of his teammates admitted something similar a few weeks ago. At least his toss wasn’t as egregious as Alex Semin’s was four years ago. Back in a game against the Leafs, Sasha Minor actually tried to throw the puck into the net for a goal. Don’t believe me? There’s video. Look! He even went behind-the-back! Only Sasha…

No Call: Tomas Vokoun Gets Trampled During Oilers’ PP

Photo credit: Andy Devlin

After the Capitals managed to kill off one of Edmonton’s power plays in the second period, both Eric Belanger and Ryan Smyth fell on top of Tomas Vokoun in the crease. The puck was getting cleared out of the Capitals’ zone and had no impact on the game, but if the officials were calling everything, why was this ignored?

No Call: Alex Semin’s Stick Slashed In Half

[UPDATE: Readers dispute that the uncalled slash was against Backstrom. Can anyone confirm with --like-- evidence?]

RMNB commenter Joey G. has the floor: “The [refereeing] was absurd. Call it both ways. The slash on Semin’s stick shoulda put us up 5-3, with a pulled goalie 6-3. A definite goal. I give no credit to Edmonton for ‘Holding On.’ Caps took those kids on a roller coaster and well they didn’t throw up… this time.” Food for thought.

There were a few other penalties that bugged me– like the Matt Hendricks dive and the Semin hook. I didn’t fact-check this, but I’m sure Hendy has never taken a diving penalty in his life, and he certainly didn’t embellish falling to the ice last night. On Semin’s hook, he simply tapped a guy on the glove with the blade of his stick. While he should know better to have his stick there, it still was a nit-picky call.

Anything else I missed? And what is going on with NHL officiating right now?

Special thanks to Peter Robbio, who hooked us up with the video. Check out his hockey blog, Chirps From The Ledge. We’re regular readers, and you should be too.

  • http://twitter.com/Funployee Greg Girard

    I’m pretty sure the slash at the end was on Backstrom, and I agree, should have been a penalty. Sutton should have gotten a game misconduct for that hit on Hendricks.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    What is going on the NHL officiating?  I’ll tell you … the upstart Caps from the US with all that damnable Eurotrash on the team is (no, was) sitting at the top of the league with an unblemished record.  They were playing a Canadian team.  In Canada.  If there were ever a team with a large bulls-eye on every player, that was it.

  • Max Duchaine
  • Stardragon66

    Agreed on both post and comments. I suspect we will see our Caps receive the same treatment in Vancouver. At least we have the undefeated target off our backs. It’ll be nice to get back on the friendlier side of the border.

  • JP

    I loved the diving call. How the hell do you get diving when your legs get kicked out from under you?  This was definately a bad call night, one you can chalk up to playing in Canada.

  • http://twitter.com/gr8scott80 Robert Bise

    “The [refereeing] was absurd. Call it both ways.”
    Agreed. There were a lot of ticky-tacky calls and a couple phantom calls. But if you’re going to call Hendricks, Semin, and Alzner for penalties then you *must* call the goalie interference and slash at the end.

    Bad officiating. BAD!

  • http://twitter.com/thompsonwerk Robert Thompson

    So, in what order were the refs in for the three stars of the game?

  • http://twitter.com/thompsonwerk Robert Thompson

    I wish refs were held to the same conduct standard as players and coaches.

  • Mark B

    Up until last night, I’d thought that maybe, *maybe* for once the officiating staff, as a whole, had finally gotten the message that they’re supposed to be neutral.  May as well have just handed the refs sticks and asked them to join in on the next rush if I were Edmonton.  I’m disgusted that the NHL Officiating staff allows this BS to happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3702126 Gordon Arsenoff

    I dunno. The knock on Auger as a ref is that he treats specific teams and players worse than others. One of his least favorite is supposed to be Alex Burrows of Vancouver. Perhaps the secret to getting better treatment there than in Edmonton will be… getting the same awful refs we just faced?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3702126 Gordon Arsenoff

    Auger is a dirty mark on the league. The Caps are hardly the only team with a beef with him. He should have been quietly dismissed years ago. At worst, he should be confined to games between teams he dislikes both of (e.g., I’d rather face him against Vancouver, as noted below, than against the Oil).

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  • http://twitter.com/ianoland Ian Oland

    I just kinda figured “well, that’s just the one bad call of the night.” And then there were eight more!!

  • http://twitter.com/ianoland Ian Oland

    I think a major penalty and a misconduct was probably warranted there. The smear replay on CSN was pretty damning.  However, Hendy got up pretty quick and looked to be okay, so that may have been taken into account when they were figuring out what to call.

  • http://twitter.com/ianoland Ian Oland

    That’s my best guess.  I wish somebody had video!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    Sucks because if he didn’t get up right away they would have called him for embellishing.

  • k1ill

    Over 50% of the Caps’ roster is from Canada.