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Bad calls, sloppy play haunted Detroit; Not a conspiracy

May 3, 2010, 1:45 PM EDT

redwingsref.jpgLast night’s San Jose Sharks-Detroit Red Wings game was exciting, but some of the penalty calls generated justified controversy. (Enough to make me feel sympathy for Todd Bertuzzi? Never.) Still, to blame the Red Wings’ loss strictly on officiating overlooks the various ways that the Sharks took the game to their opponents.

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski summarizes this point quite nicely (and also includes a gallery of reactions from Detroit newspapers and bloggers).

There is every reason to believe that the “conspiracy” or “bias” against Detroit is a series of painful coincidences connected, and amplified, by a minority of Red Wings fans who wear institutional scheming like a warm blanket to shelter them from Detroit’s occasional failures as a team.

The officiating last night was atrocious. It was unforgiveable. There have been a few instances in these playoffs in which the referees seemed as though they were getting paid by the ill-conceived penalty, and last night was one of them. Ten power plays for the San Jose Sharks in their win, and four for the Wings. It was an embarrassment.

But it was also an isolated situation. Coaches work the refs in every series, and the refs respond. When Tomas Holmstrom starts getting hit with interference penalties, it isn’t an edict from Gary Bettman; it’s an official taking the opposing coach’s words into consideration and acting on them.

I’ve often felt that many Red Wings fans develop their conspiracy theories for two main reasons: 1) their team makes the playoffs every year so they simply have a deeper war chest of complaints and 2) perhaps, dare I say it, they’re spoiled following the best organization in professional sports.

Why would the league bite one of the strongest hands that feeds its revenue? Detroit is a fantastic American market with oodles and noodles of history. They bring in ratings and surely sell plenty of their gorgeous red jerseys. It boggles my mind that the NHL would do anything but enhance such a franchise.

Then again, this is the NHL, so maybe the tin foil brigade are indeed justified in their humorous paranoia.

  1. PJSharkie91361 - May 3, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    I counted at least 3 calls against the Sharks that were questionable. The last one bing goaltender interference. How is it goalie interference when you get shoved into the goalie bythe opposing player? This was called within the last 3 minutes of the game and right when SJ went on a power play. Bad calls are falling either way. I don’t buy the argument.

  2. Rachele W - May 3, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    I agree 100% with PJ Sharkie…can we also look at game 1 and the questionable calls that went Detroit’s way???

  3. Anonymous - May 3, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    Last 2 games have been determined by questionable 5 on 3 power plays.

  4. Steve O - May 3, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    PJ, the last call against the sharks was horrible, but it was most likely to atone for the fact that at the face off on that play, a shark pulled down a Red Wing (interference) but the call wasn’t made.
    The issue isn’t the fact they are calling penalties on Detroit, it is that they are NOT calling the same things against the Sharks.
    Like “interfering with the goal tender” when in that same period, Howard was high sticked and waved his hands to indicate he wasn’t calling it. Obviously he saw the incident as he indicated to continue playing.
    And for people who say “with those penalties, the Sharks only scored twice,” you need to realize that in the 9 or 10 minutes that the Red Wings are short handed, they generate little to no offense and tire themselves out more.
    the officials should be ashamed, the NHL should be emberrased and any hockey fan should be disgusted at the officiating yesterday.

  5. Anonymous - May 3, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    Which questionable calls from Game 1? Seto’s high stick on Franzen that drew blood? Are you really making a case that San Jose hasn’t gotten the better of the breaks in this series?
    The bad calls have gone both ways for sure. But in aggregate, and in timing, the calls have gone SJ’s way. Does that excuse Detroit’s marginal play in the first two games? Nope. But I think the Wings could’ve skated out with a split if not for some untimely calls (and missed calls).
    And I of course agree there’s no conspiracy. I’ve seen games where I was embarrassed at how many calls went Detroit’s way. I hate it either way. If bad calls go your way, the other team’s fans taint your victory. If the bad calls go against you, you’re left wondering if officiating cost you the game.
    Bottom line: the officials had a bad night last night. A very bad night. I hope their performance is reviewed closely and their future assignments adjusted accordingly.

  6. Lord Stanley of Preston - May 16, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    The complaints about minor infractions will always garner no sympathy from other teams fans, we have to assume that these calls will eventually balance out.
    But when an official is clearly looking at a play where a major infraction is committed and said official decides to let it go, we have to say WTF is going on here!
    Why are they not calling a major infraction where injury has occurred??
    As in the Wings/Sharks series where 16 minutes of injury laden calls were let go.

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