The Bruins were doing their best to simply grin and bear it after feeling like theyd been screwed.
But playoff hockey brings out passion, and there were plenty of impassioned responses when the conversation turned to the referees and some of the lowlights from Bostons 4-3 loss in Game 5 at TD Garden in their first round series against the Washington Capitals.
First there was the conspicuous lack of a whistle when Bruins defensemen Joe Corvo was the unwitting victim of a Mike Green slapper to the knee at the end of a long shift for Corvo and his D-partner Greg Zanon.
Corvo didnt hear the whistle and attempted to get back into the play, but he was unable to do so after being hobbled by the blast. Instead he moved aimlessly searching for his stick while the Capitals attacked the net with a 5-on-4 advantage. Alex Semin eventually smacked home the rebound of a Dennis Wideman shot, and the Bruins were suddenly down 1-0 with goals at a premium in the series.
Claude Julien recalled a pair of instances in Game 4 when plays where whistled dead with Boston possession in the Washington zone and a Capitals player down and out with an injury. But thats not what happened with Tim Peel and Steve Kozari working the game in Boston on Saturday afternoon.
Julien fumed at the referees after the goal, but to no avail.
That was probably the frustrating part for me. We were in Washington last game and twice their players go down in their own end and we had full control of the puck, said Claude Julien. The whistle was blown right away with no hesitation. Tonight were deciding were not stopping the play.
So, I guess I was a little perturbed is there two sets of rules or one? I know theyre different referees but its still the same series. So that was frustrating because they ended up scoring a goal on that. That was my frustration on that goal and its unfortunate thats how it ended up.
Perhaps even more trouble is that each of the last two game-winning goals for the Capitals have been on third period power play goals and this coming after the Washington Caps owner groused that the Stanley Cup champs will always get the benefit of the doubt on his personal blog.
The hooking call on Patrice Bergeron that led to the Game 4 winner was a borderline call at best. But the slashing call on Benoit Pouliot with less than three minutes to go in the third period of a tied playoff hockey is the kind of thing that should never happen unless one player got medieval on another with their stick.
Or perhaps that call could be made if blood was drawn or an appendage was missing. But a tic-tac penalty call in the final three minutes of regulation leading to a power play goal in the playoffs is taking things right out of the players hands.
There are almost no instances during the playoffs when a bogus penalty call should affect the outcome for either team, and it should always be decided by 5-on-5 hockey deep in the third period of a playoff game.
The game-winning power play goal for Troy Brouwer was, of course, a soft one from the outside surrendered by Tim Thomas, but the Bruins were more upset about what many considered a soft penalty.
It was like that all game. To call that slash at the end it is disappointing. But there is nothing you can do about it, said Pouliot. You just have to show up tomorrow. Its a tough call.
I will leave it to you guys, but it was a tough call to make at 2:15 in the game. It is a grind out there. Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you dont. It happened that they got it.
Its happened that the Washington Capitals have received quite a few of the calls since Ted Leonsis made his public plea, and since the referees missed an off-side call prior to Bostons game-winning goal in Game 3. But those kinds of things tend to even out over the course of a seven-game series, and that means Boston may have a break or two headed in their direction.
The best thing the Bruins can do: make sure the last two games arent close enough that their efforts could be undone by an unfavorable call or two along the way.