NEW YORK -- It didn’t stop the Bruins from taking Game 3 with a solid performance at both ends of the ice, but there is something fishy about the officiating taking place at Madison Square Garden.
First the good: The Bruins fired off 34 shots on net on Henrik Lundqvist, didn’t allow the Rangers much of anything from inside the slot area and took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers at the famed MSG. It was the kind of backbreaking win that can crush a hockey team’s spirit in a playoff series, and could potentially usher in a sweep on Thursday night.
“I thought our guys from start to finish played extremely well,” said Claude Julien. “I feel it around the room as well. We’re a very focused group right now.”
That’s a far cry from the Jekyll and Hyde team that showed up for the first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, of course. But it’s also a team that is fighting through some very strange circumstances in New York City, where the Rangers had a pair of power plays compared to zero for the Black and Gold.
The two PP possessions mean that the Rangers have enjoyed 11 straight power plays at Madison Square Garden dating back to Game 4 of their series against the Washington Capitals, and haven’t seen a single power play go in the other direction for the opposing team. Normally New York plays a disciplined style of hockey, of course, and was tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the fewest penalty minutes (444) in the entire league during the 2013 regular season.
But it was difficult to ignore the 10-5 advantage that the Rangers have in power plays over the course of the playoff series, especially after a clear high stick that split open Zdeno Chara’s forehead that was entirely missed in the first period. Chara had the Frankenstein stitching on his forehead after the game was over, but the bloody infraction never resulted in a double minor that should have given the Bruins a four minute power play.
On the other hand, Jaromir Jagr and Nathan Horton were called for ticky-tack infractions. The Rangers didn’t score on their second period power play, but gathered enough momentum to score on a Taylor Pyatt tipped puck just 20 seconds after their PP possession expired. So it clearly did play a factor in a game where Henrik Lundqvist was standing on his head throughout.
It may not even matter for a Rangers power play that’s 0-for-21 in their last six games, but the numbers have been screaming out unfairness since the middle of their first round series against the Washington Capitals.