I don’t have any fancy stats or fancy charts to show you. But I do want to share a perspective that I think is not getting enough attention. Most of the focus has been on the referees and how they missed the call and how the NHL review system is flawed. All true. However, no one is really talking about how Timo Meier purposefully handled the puck with his hand in a way to give his team an advantage that led to a goal being scored. In other words, the Sharks won game three because they cheated — it is as simple as that.
I think the cause of most penalties and infractions can be categorized in the following categories (obviously there are exceptions and the lines can blur on certain calls):
- Accidents/Mistakes: Delay of game puck over glass is a perfect example of this. I seriously doubt any player is going to purposefully shoot the puck over the glass when they know it will cost them a 2 minute penalty. This type of penalty is a mistake by a player who overplays the puck when attempting to clear. Too many men is another example of an accident or mistake type of penalty.
- Overzealous play/Lack of control: The first example that comes to mind are players fighting for the puck along the boards and lose control of their stick as it rises up and hits another player in the face. Players who are overzealous (how about that for a euphemism) in their play and cross check an opponent in the heat of the moment. Or a player who gets his stick stuck in the blades of an opponent while battling for the puck in the corner and ends up tripping the opponent.
- On purpose: Hooking and slashing immediately come to mind. A player has to actively engage in an action that is outside the normal course of play in order to commit those penalties. Hard to argue that a slash happened in the heat of the moment when battling for a puck along the boards. Same with hooking. Of course, some of the penalties listed in the overzealous/lack of control category can fit here as well in some circumstances. Obviously fighting and instigation are good examples of this category of penalty. Finally, a hand pass is a perfect example of an infraction that is done on purpose.
Everybody knows you are not allowed to pass the puck with your hand. Yet, in every angle of every video I have watched, it is very clear that Timo Meier purposefully batted the puck in a manner as to pass it to a player on his team. I could have given him (and the refs) some leeway in this matter had he knocked it down and a Sharks player played it after that. That would definitely be a sort of accidental infraction. “Oops I was just trying to settle the puck,” and “oops the puck was right there and I played it without thinking.” I get that. But that is not what happened. Timo Meier, with full knowledge of NHL rules, decided to intentionally break the rules in order to give his team an advantage. An advantage which led to a game winning goal in overtime. This was not a heat of the moment play. He knew what he was doing when he batted the puck into the slot right in front of the Blues’ net. And for Erik Karlsson to announce to the media afterwards that it was a “fair game” is just a further insult to our collective hockey intelligence.
Complain about garbage officiating all you want, but the San Jose Sharks won game three because they cheated and there is nothing that will ever change that fact.