The Montreal Canadiens have earned their reputation as the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ most nefarious divers and embellishers. In Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, they were finally called on it.
Tomas Plekanec was whistled for "diving" at 13:05 of the second period after snapping his head back on a high stick that didn’t touch him, nearly a second after Marty St. Louis lowered his stick to the ice again.
The Rangers scored on the ensuing power play, completing a stunning three-goal rally that spanned 4:24 of the second period.
It wasn’t just a good call, it was a call the officials owed Plekanec after he embarrassed them on this play in Game 4, drawing a penalty from Brian Boyle of the Rangers.
A stick hit his chest; Plekanec threw his head back like he had just been shot in the face.
Even though Boyle's stick did not quite fit the criteria of a "high stick (above the height of the opponents shoulders) it was used in a careless manner and could certainly result in a slashing penalty. Plekanec's embellishment was also worthy of a penalty that should have resulted in an on-ice numerical strength of four aside. Given Plekanec's blatant overreaction it could even been deemed a 'stand alone' embellishment penalty if the ref wanted to send a clear message but I doubt he would receive much support.
In Game 5, Plekanec got his standalone penalty, and the Rangers got a power-play goal.
Selling a penalty is one thing. It's a tactic. It's something every offensive player does, at every level of hockey. It's not exactly honorable, but it's commonplace.
Inventing a penalty is another story. Plekanec was doing the latter in the last two games, and was finally whistled for his embarrassment, er, embellishment.