The Blues had a few chances to put game three away last night. An ENG from Jaden Schwartz instead of a missed net would’ve ended it. Not allowing Logan Couture’s game tying goal with less than a minute left would’ve ended it right then and there.
So no, the refs’ blown hand-pass call to conclude the game wasn’t exactly the only thing that cost the Blues a 2-1 series lead.
I don’t believe that the league’s refs explicitly have instructions that the San Jose Sharks must make it to the Stanley Cup Final so Joe Thornton can win it all. If this weren’t the NHL and I didn’t think that having a league be in the bag for a team were bad, I’d say it would make more sense from a narrative standard to have the whole thing rigged in favor of the Blues so they could be the worst to first story of the year. But the NHL likes crushing narratives and fun, so here we are.
The issue that I have with last night’s blown call is twofold: one, these things keep happening in game (and series) deciding scenarios and two, the league consistently knows that their employees have screwed up but refuse to admit it. The refs that called the five minute major on the Pavelski hit/injury didn’t move on to the second round of the playoffs, and everyone - including Pavelski himself - agreed that the hit wasn’t worth the five minute penalty on Cody Eakin. The league apologized for it.
Ask a Golden Knights fan how they feel about that apology. Sure, don’t blow a 3-1 series lead and no, don’t allow four goals on a five minute major call. But that call never happens and the Western Conference Final looks a lot different. It’s not the Sharks’ fault that they got that call, it’s the league’s, and they knew it to the degree that the refs who worked that game didn’t move on to the second round with the team that they helped.
The Avalanche’s game tying goal in game seven was also a victim of the NHL’s officiating and unclear rules on how to handle offside calls when a player is getting off of the ice and isn’t part of the play.
Last night’s overtime game winner by Erik Karlsson was technically why the Sharks won game three, but like I said before, it wasn’t the only reason. But holy hell, that hand pass (that was later credited as an assist) is visible from space:
You know that the Blues have a legit complaint with something when you get an emotional reaction out of Jordan Binnington.
If the refs were following the puck, why in the world wasn’t that called?
#NHL explanation from tonight’s pool reporter @jprutherford #STLBlues pic.twitter.com/anrlDDX3Ss— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) May 16, 2019
No admission of guilt here, which is to be expected, but just because you keep stating that something is a non-renewable play doesn’t mean that people are going to believe that the right call was made. At least own up to your mistakes in public. The NHL may be concerned that constantly having to apologize for missed calls and goof ups will make the league look bad, but maybe sticking your head in the sand doesn’t help much either. The fans know that the officiating is consistently bush league, and every team in the playoffs this year has gotten hosed at least once. These are supposed to be the best crews, and they’ve been atrocious.
Fix your shit, NHL. The whole league, not just the Blues, would benefit. If a team is going to lose a game, they can do it without your help.