The Winter Classic turned controversial in the third period when the officials made their presence known. The calls, which all went against the Rangers, opened the NHL to cries of conspiracy.
Twitter erupted with comments from fans, bloggers and writers about the NHL trying to "even up" the game to force an overtime and maybe a shootout.
One of the loudest critics was Rangers head coach John Tortorella, who had some pretty sharp comments after the game.
In his postgame remarks to the press, Tortorella said: “It started with the non-call [when] Gabby was pitch-forked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They’re two good referees; I thought the game was refereed horribly.
"So I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I’m not sure if they have meetings about that or what. But we stood in there. They’re good guys. But in that third period, it was disgusting.”
Tortorella also pondered if "NBC got together with the refs” to get the game into overtime.
This idea of the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman calling shots and deciding the outcomes of games is nothing new. Every year, mostly in the playoffs, fans of wonder about it.
Does this conspiracy theory have any merit?
You would like to think that it doesn’t, but the events at the end of the game in Philadelphia were certainly head-scratchers. The most questionable call was the covering of the puck on Ryan McDonagh, which resulted in a penalty shot for the Flyers with 19 seconds left and the team trailing by one goal.
The replays never got a shot of McDonagh covering the puck while in the crease, and this play followed another penalty called on McDonagh a few minutes earlier. While fighting for position, the Rangers defenseman got knocked into his own net. To the refs this was enough to call delay of game for knocking the net off.
Never mind that he got checked into it, and never mind that the puck was in the corner. The replays show that he official had a great angle of it and still blew the call.
While the idea of the league fixing games for ratings is abhorrent, the NHL should review this game and see what happened and why.
When the head coach of one of the league's most marquee franchises in the country’s biggest market is questioning the integrity of the game, you have a problem.