The NHL Playoffs are in full swing, but for most of the games, it seems the refs are becoming more than the game. A prime example of this is the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks series. The second game was certainly a frustrating one for Flames head coach Mike Keenan. The Flames were assessed six consecutive penalties, which ultimately led to the Sharks victory. The Flames played almost an entire period of hockey being a man short.
Now some of the penalties were well deserved, but many were not. One penalty call that stands out was the penalty called on Jerome Iginla, the Flames captain and leading scorer of the regular season. Iginla hardly grabbed the arm of a Shark forward and the ref's arm was up and pointed towards Iginla. I believe this call put the Flames down two men. An unnecessary call that killed any momentum the Flames may have had.
Calls such as these cannot continue because the refs are involving themselves too much. They need to let the players decide this series.
Game three between the Flames and Sharks was no different in period number one. Within the first few minutes, the Flames were back on the penalty kill. A tiny little tap with the stick sent a Flames forward to the box and the Sharks scored on the ensuing power play. Within the next five minutes the Sharks scored two more times, making the score 3-0 in only five minutes of play. This was spelling disaster once more and the refs were already deciding the game in favor of the Sharks.
Officiating in such a manner not only makes for boring hockey, but it also raises conspiracy questions. When so many penalties are directed towards one team, it is almost to certain the refs are being told to officiate in a certain way.
This may sound a little extreme, but what else should one think when a team must kill six consecutive penalties?