TORONTO – If one didn’t know any better, a casual hockey observer might think there was a league mandate for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Clearly, those kind of conspiracy theories are complete bunk when it comes to things like refereeing and competitive integrity, but a good deal of the Bruins left the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night following the 4-3 loss feeling as if they got an extreme short end of the stick.
There was the obvious Torey Krug holding call in overtime that appeared, at first blush, to be a strong defensive play by Krug to break up a Tyler Bozak rush to the Boston net before both players crashed into Chad Johnson.
“We have to live with it,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s nothing we can be frustrated about. We just have to be able to play through those things.”
The game was over 59 seconds after the Krug penalty call when Nazem Kadri roofed a rebound past Chad Johnson, but the damage had started long before that point.
Kevan Miller was whistled for holding on a play in the second period, where he essentially threw the puck carrier down to the ice, and Phil Kessel got away with a dangerous high stick in the third period that opened up a cut on Dougie Hamilton’s face. Add all of that up with a Torey Krug power play goal vs. Detroit that was wiped out on a bogus goalie interference call by Chris Rooney on Wednesday night, and Claude Julien had seen enough after two straight losses.
The Bruins players get credit for not giving in to the easy blame game on the refs, but clearly the frustration is there.
“Yesterday, we had a goal disallowed. It is frustrating,” said Julien. “But you’ve got to try to keep the guys focused, and not let it get to them. With time that just gets worse and worse, so I think our guys have done an unbelievable job of remaining poised, and going out there and saying ‘let’s not allow the things out of our control to upset us.’
“We just go out to try and win our way, and that’s exactly what we did in the third period. That’s where the guys deserve a lot of credit. We went out there and made it a game.”
The bottom line is that the Bruins wouldn’t have been so reliant on referee calls if they’d played a better brand of hockey in the first half of the game, or finished off a few more of the offensive scoring chances all over the ice.