Colorado Avalanche: Are the Avalanche Being Hurt by NHL Officiating?

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Colorado Avalanche: Are the Avalanche Being Hurt by NHL Officiating?
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche fans are abuzz after the latest victory over the Calgary Flames.

Not solely because of the dramatic overtime victory their team pulled out to further Colorado's exciting push to the playoffs but also because of some questionable officiating.

A number of people have already jumped on this topic, so I thought that I would toss my two cents in here as well.

At least with the game on Tuesday night, it's easy to see why Avalanche fans would be upset.

Early in the game, Mark Olver was called for a slash on a play in which it looked like the worst thing that happened was that he might have poked a Flames player in the rear end with his stick.

Then to have Ryan O'Reilly slashed right across the bridge of his nose, bleeding in the crease of the Calgary goalie and have not a single one of the four officials call the penalty is infuriating.

Even mild-mannered coach Joe Sacco went on a bit of a rant after the game about the officiating. From the Denver Post:

(It was) a blatant high-stick on Ryan O'Reilly. It's a scoring opportunity, and four guys on the ice miss it. I don't know how you miss that call. That could have been a four-minute power play right there, and maybe we could have ended it in regulation. It's baffling.

What's even more baffling is the fact that the Avalanche went the entire 60 minutes without a single power play to their credit.

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That, in and of itself, isn't entirely unique. What is unique is that it was the sixth time this season that the Avalanche have not had a power play called for them in a game, by far the most in the league.

Denver Post Avalanche beat writer Adrian Dater tweeted that no other team in the NHL this season has had more than three games in which it has not been awarded a power play.

Not surprisingly, the Avalanche have had the fewest power-play opportunities of any team in the NHL this year with 204. Dallas has the next fewest with 215.

So this seals the deal, right? The Avalanche are being given the business end of the stick by the NHL officials.

Brendan Shanahan has carried his Avalanche hatred with him into his new disciplinarian role and has instructed all officials to avoid giving the Avalanche power plays at all costs in an effort to keep them out of the playoffs. Right?

In the heat of the moment, some of us might go there, but I'm not going to buy the conspiracy theory notion.

After all, Shanahan was the one who suspended Andy Sutton for his head shot on Gabriel Landeskog early in the year.

The job of an NHL referee is not an easy one, and it's easy for all of us, myself included, to get caught up in the moment and call for the head of an official on any given night.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The fact of the matter is that calls are allowed to go on both sides of the puck and they usually even out over the course of the game.

Don't get me wrong: The officiating in the game on Tuesday against Calgary was abysmal to the point of absurdity, but I attribute that more to the poor overall officiating that has gone on all season long in the NHL.

People love to rag on the NBA officials, but I would wager that there is no group of officials in any professional sport who is less on the same page about what is and isn't a penalty than NHL officials.

Case and point happened on Tuesday night. After the Colorado vs. Calgary game, which had a total of three penalties called all game (all on the Avalanche), I switched over to the Los Angeles vs. San Jose game for the third period.

There were four penalties called in just over a two-minute span at the very beginning of the period, a couple of which were pretty borderline calls, especially in a game with such huge playoff implications.

The Colorado Avalanche have had some bad luck with getting power-play opportunities this season, so it is natural that the fans and players would be a little bit upset with the officials.

The bottom line is that officiating has been horrific throughout the NHL all year long, and the Avalanche simply need to do exactly what it is they've been doing since the All-Star break.

Put your head down, work hard, make no excuses and just win, baby.

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