It wasn’t a banner night for officials across the board Thursday evening, and Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog weighed in on a series of controversial calls.
The league-leading Avalanche were blanked 2-0 by the Carolina Hurricanes and Landeskog took umbrage with the officiating, particularly about a third period high-sticking call on Nazem Kadri. Both Landeskog and Kadri believe that Hurricanes forward Nino Niederreiter flopped. Landeskog was also given a 10-minute misconduct penalty with 52 seconds remaining after protesting from the bench.
Gabriel Landeskog starts with a statement about officiating. He's not happy.
"That's a playoff game tonight. It's very unfortunate it comes down tonight."
Said the refs did a great job the first 50 minutes.
— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) March 11, 2022
“In 11 years, I’ve never sat and talked about referees in a press conference, ever,” Landeskog told reporters after the game. “I think Wes (McCauley) and TJ (Luxmore) do a great job for 50-some minutes of the game. They called a high stick on Naz on Niederreiter, which might have been a high stick but Niederreiter falls easy. We’re arguing it’s a flop. They still say it’s a high stick. Fair enough.”
— Quentin Sickafoose (@QSickafoose) March 11, 2022
Landeskog then went on to explain that Niederreiter got away with hooking Kadri nearly two minutes later, but he wasn’t penalized, revealing what the Avalanche star believed to be an inconsistent standard. He also implied that Kadri’s previous history of suspensions may have subconsciously affected the non-call.
“Whether a guy has been suspended numerous times or not, is he going to be carrying around that heavy baggage forever? I’m not saying TJ and Wes didn’t call it for that reason, but Naz is a guy who is competitive. Whether he sold that call or not, you can look in that video and the stick in his waist and that’s why he loses the puck," he said. "I think it’s unfortunate. Sometimes it’s time for players to step up and speak their truth. I’m the one looking like an idiot for getting thrown out of the game even though I’m just being honest.”
It wasn’t the only controversial missed call of the evening. In what was one of the best games of the slate, the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied with three third-period goals to force their game against the Arizona Coyotes into overtime. During the final frame, Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun — who has been on fire ahead of the trade deadline — clearly grabbed Auston Matthews’ stick before bolting up the ice on an odd-man rush. No penalty was called and Chychrun got himself into a perfect shooting position, received a pass from Matias Maccelli and notched the overtime winner.
Here is Chychrun’s goal along with the non-call on Matthews.
Auston Matthews BLATANTLY gets his stick/arm held by Chychrun, no call. And the Coyotes win it.
NHL refs are a damn joke. pic.twitter.com/Rhj6p86kVb
— alberto (@twistedleafs) March 11, 2022
During Tuesday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals, Oilers forward Zach Hyman was blatantly hooked by Alexander Ovechkin, but again, no penalty was called.
Zach Hyman gets hooked by Ovechkin, no call pic.twitter.com/lIJ0JcaSeP
— Hockey Realm (@hockey_realm) March 10, 2022
This could be read as a series of isolated incidents, but that would be granting the NHL’s officials the benefit of the doubt, which they haven’t earned over the past few seasons. The inconsistent standard of penalties being applied across the board has been a major storyline this season.
Perhaps we have almost too much access as journalists and fans, with instant replays readily available and a stream of national games easily accessible within our fingertips. But the problem doesn’t seem to be fans and players having access to information, it’s absolutely on the officials to find a more coherent way to apply infractions league-wide.
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