Refs frustrate Bruins in Game 5

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Refs frustrate Bruins in Game 5

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.

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.

Bulpett: Ainge 'really protective' of ability to go to free agency this summer

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Steve Bulpett joins Mike Felger to weigh in on the NBA trade deadline and the lack of moves made by Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics thus far.