May 26, 2011
Prior to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Tampa Bay Lightning Coach Guy Boucher was asked (though his name wasn't mentioned) about referee Eric Furlatt, whose last four games involving the Bolts produced a lopsided number of penalties against Boucher's team.
Said the coach on Wednesday:
"[It's] 24-9 against, right? Yes, I'm aware of it. Very aware of it. Very, very aware of it. It has been a part of our discussions quite a few times in the last game, the last games we did have that particular ref. And it is lopsided."
The Bruins ended up with more power-play time and would have had the advantage in calls had it not been for Nathan Horton's(notes) roughing penalty at the end of the game. (Obviously, his defense that he was simply trying to swat away a hand-drum that some Floridian moron threw at him from the stands fell on deaf ears.)
But Tampa Bay got its share of calls … and with a power play that went 3-for-4 on the night, they were significant calls. At least in the eyes of Boston Coach Claude Julien, who couldn't help but wonder if his Lightning counterpart may have successfully worked the refs before the game.
If you watched Game 6, what did you think of the officiating?
From the Game 6 postgame press conferences, Claude Julien:
Q. Your comment on how the special teams went.
COACH CLAUDE JULIEN: "Obviously it was a difference maker. They scored three goals on the power play and it took us a long time to get our first one, and that certainly dictated the game. And what was more disappointing is probably the fact that, you know, I don't know if I agree with those calls. And hopefully what was said today didn't have any impact on that, because if it did, I'd be really disappointed.
"But when you look back at those and you get an opportunity to look back at them and that's really tough to swallow. And at the same time, you want your team to kill those penalties, which we've done a pretty good job throughout the series. But tonight that wasn't the case. And obviously it was the difference in the game."
Q. You brought it up, the comments today about the referees. On the one hand, do you warn your players there might be extra sensitivity about what they do out there? And secondly, is there any place for that in the game, are you disappointed that something like that would come up in a conference like this?
COACH CLAUDE JULIEN: "I didn't say anything special to our players. We went out there and played the game. I thought we were very disciplined tonight. And again, it just seemed like it was one of those tough nights when you look back at some of those penalties, whether you're allowed to agree or disagree. I'm one of those guys tonight that probably disagreed on a lot of them.
"When you hear what happened today, I guess it certainly makes things look even worse. So referees have a tough job to do. One thing you don't want to do is criticize them. You're allowed to agree or disagree, but they've got a tough job to do. My job is not to criticize them. But it was something that was tough to swallow tonight."
"One thing you don't want to do is criticize them." Paging Mr. Boucher … Mr. Guy Boucher …
The Bruins players were cognizant of the officiating too. From ESPN Boston and Milan Lucic:
Bruins players also didn't hold back their frustration with the calls Wednesday, going as far as calling them makeup calls, but did admit that the Bruins must be more disciplined regardless of their frustration with the calls.
"Well, I mean, it seemed like some of them were just makeup calls because we had a bunch of [power plays]," Lucic said. "You'd hope it's not the time of year where there's makeup calls like that. You can't let the refs get to you. You don't want them to be the difference, and you want to do whatever you can to work past that. We don't want to make excuses because of referees, but, then again, we have to do whatever we can to not take penalties."
Boucher had his own take on last night's officiating, including whether his pregame concerns influenced a less "lopsided" game:
"Well, first of all, I was asked that. I didn't bring it up myself. So I was asked. And people put numbers in front of me.
"And those are the facts, the numbers. If you're asking me, power plays are 5-4 for them tonight. And they were 3-0 for them the start of the game in the first period, and it was 4-1 for them before we got our other power play. So I don't know who got the advantage today. We got less power plays than them."
Exactly. The calls were less lopsided, but it's hard to say the Lightning had an advantage when (a) they had less power-play time and (b) didn't have a power play until the second period.
But it wasn't lopsided. So mission: accomplished apparently, Mr. Boucher.