As a result of the four month NHL lockout, everyone was questioning what kind of game shape players would be in once they would return to the ice. With pre-season style play consisting mostly of dump and chase-a-thons, it is clear the players are not anywhere near top form.
The players can hardly be blamed for the bumpy start due to the long layoff and very short training camp period. Such are the pitfalls of an NHL season which was literally arranged on the fly. It appears the quality games will have to wait until the players round into shape; and the players are not the only ones who need to get their act together as quickly as possible.
While there was considerable talk about the conditioning of the players, few questioned what type of officiating we would see in this asterisk season. For an answer, one need not look any further than the Sunday afternoon game between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
On a day when one would expect the NFL officials to be under the spotlight and steal the headlines, the biggest officiating blunders of the day were pulled off by the NHL referees. Outshining the incompetent NFL refs on their big day is an accomplishment in itself.
Early in the third period with the Canadiens leading 2-1, the Senators appeared to have tied the game on a screen shot from the right point which eluded goalie Carey Price. However, the goal was waved off by the referee due to goaltender interference by Sens winger Jakob Silfverberg.
Replays show the referee was clearly seeing things. There would be no further scoring in the game and the Senators would leave Montreal with a feeling of being ripped off blind…or is that…being ripped off by a blind ref?
During this game, terrible officiating would seem to have no bias. The Habs had also been previously burned on a questionable goalie interference penalty. There were at least half a dozen blown calls in this game leading to the officiating crew making a complete spectacle of themselves.
Early into the game, Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec was whistled for goalie interference on a play where he appeared to be pushed by a Sens defender into goaltender Craig Anderson. The penalty would lead to a power play goal by Silfverberg and a Sens 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens would answer with goals from David Desharnais and Erik Cole to take a 2-1 lead after the first period. It would be a lead everyone thought the Habs relinquished early in the third period; everyone except a referee who was seeing things.
Ironically, one of the officials working yesterday’s game was Greg Kimmerly, who inexplicably high-fived Cole last season after Cole scored a goal against the Senators. It is too bad the uptight Habs management banned the repulsive triple low-five celebration, which is exactly what Kimmerly deserved after pretty much gifting the game to the home team.
The Canadiens, who have won five home games in a row, host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Maybe this time it will be the players, and not the delusional officials, who decide the outcome of this game.