Farcical officiating contributed to a testy game between the Habs and Bruins

Mar 24, 2023 - 4:00 PM
NHL: <a href=Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/F8tMMhNjJ524UkrAdWKWw05JhSY=/0x132:4673x2761/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/72110654/usa_today_20304879.0.jpg" />
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The officials in the game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins on Thursday night displayed an astonishing level of ineptitude. It doesn’t surprise me anymore to see games like this, but they still leave me wondering how professional officials maintain their employment, while appearing to be capable of arbitrary application of the rules, at best.

For example, did you know it is apparently permissible to tackle an opposing player from behind?

This happened quite late in the game with the Habs’ net empty, so the non-call doesn’t have much of an impact on the result. Still, it is nothing short of astonishing to watch a referee staring down this play, and not even flinch. It is about as obvious as penalties get, yet we’ll never have an explanation as to why it wasn’t called.

Better still, did you know that multiple cross checks to a downed player, the last of which rammed his head into the boards from behind, is also permissible?

And just for context, they weren’t only missing penalties against the Bruins. This hit by Rem Pitlick was at the very least a case of blatant interference, with the presence of head contact leaving the possibility for something more.

This last one really set the tone for the night. I’m not sure Brad Marchand reacts the way he did if the refs make that easy call. I wonder if the rest of the violence that night — much of which most went uncalled — happens if they’re on top of it in the first period. They lost control of this game, and it is a welcome surprise that as of this writing, no serious injuries occurred as a result.

Mike Hoffman did have to return to the game wearing a full face shield after AJ Greer blasted him in the mouth with a cross-check, so he may be a little worse for wear. But hey, at least that was one of the calls the officials managed to get right, so I suppose they can pat themselves on the back for that.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

What do you know, they were way ahead of me on that!

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Of course, I do have some words for the officials in this episode. Aside from that, we did manage to see some impressive performances from the Habs in the loss, most notably from Mike Matheson and Kirby Dach.

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