The Edmonton Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks played what appeared to be one of the more tilted games in NHL history on Wednesday, May 3rd. Despite Randy Carlyle’s implicit statement that the officials have benefited Edmonton in the best-of-seven series heading into game four, it’s hard to see how he will keep a straight face with that opinion going forward after what transpired on Wednesday.
The Ducks won in overtime 4-3 with only one Anaheim goal that wasn’t controversial. The first goal came with Edmonton leading 2-0 at the start of the 2nd period. Corey Perry bumped into Edmonton goalkeeper Cam Talbot and the Ducks lit the lamp for their first goal of the game. Edmonton would challenge the on-ice call, but it wasn’t overturned despite the fact that numerous neutral observers said it should be.
David Staples, writing at the Edmonton Journal’s website notes retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser as one source who thought the goal should have been disallowed. SportsNet’s Jim Hughson certainly seemed to find the call questionable as well as revealed by his in-game commentary. It would be the start of an egregious night of officiating that continues to see the NHL lose credibility.
I thought there was sufficient contact & evidence to support Coach's Challenge & disallow the goal.
— Kerry Fraser (@kfraserthecall) May 4, 2017
I align my opinion with Kerry Fraser on the first goal of the game. Furthermore, I think Anaheim’s second goal was a no goal too for far less subjective reasons. Anaheim, it was revealed by SportsNet, entered the attacking zone offside. The refs missed the call, Anaheim scored on the possession, and the game was then tied at two. They took the lead on a third goal that no one really thinks was at all questionable. After the Oilers tied the game late in the third period, the game would go to overtime. Basically Edmonton needed to outplay Anaheim by two goals in regulation just to get into a coin-toss sudden-death scenario.
However, the notion of a ‘coin toss’ when all the pivotal and controversial calls go one direction is farcical. Perhaps it should be to no one’s surprise that Anaheim seemingly iced the puck in overtime only to have the infraction ignored. The trailing referee on the play seemed to see it as icing at first as his arm went into the air. Seconds later, the icing got waved off meaning that the Ducks were able to gain the zone. I don’t see how it wasn’t icing, but it stands to reason that subjectivity will be abused in the tilted world of professional sports.
Anaheim scored. It was sudden death. A series that should be 3-1 Edmonton is now 2-2 Anaheim heading back to California. If there’s any intent with the bad calls against Edmonton then the Oilers have about as much chance to win this series as the 2002 Sacramento Kings had of beating the Los Angeles Lakers that year.
The backlash against the NHL has been immense and I don’t mean in southern California. On that matter, I’ve never actually met a Los Angeles Lakers’ fan that would admit that the 2002 Sacramento Kings got screwed. Likewise, I don’t expect anyone, except for the rarest of the rare, to acknowledge the Oiltown Screwjob on May 3rd, 2017.
My belief is that the NHL takes hockey fans for granted in the more northern NHL markets, especially the ones in Canada. Where ice rinks aren’t so popular, I think the NHL uses the Stanley Cup playoffs to promote their product while simply counting on the Canadian markets to stay tuned.
Of course, there is a difference between NHL hockey and just plain old hockey. There’s a growing sentiment in Canada that the NHL just has a crummy product. If a mainstream-media hockey writer is swearing in his tweets about the NHL (see below), then what’s the common fan thinking? I think you can read the entire Twitter threat for the tweet below to get an idea.
To hell with the @NHL
What a bullshit league.
— David Staples (@dstaples) May 4, 2017
David Staples, writing at the Edmonton Journal’s website, summarized the May-3rd game as follows:
“Final score: Referees 2, Edmonton Oilers, 3, Anaheim Ducks, 2”
That’s actually a generous scoring line, I think. It’s as though he’s taking the first goal as one Anaheim deserved, or maybe the overtime goal. Of course, without the help Anaheim doesn’t even get to overtime. How about this:
“Referees 2, Edmonton Oilers 3, Anaheim Ducks 1” in a game that should have ended in regulation.
I’ve got some ideas on where Canadian hockey fans go from here. I’ll get into them later. Meanwhile, writing about the NHL still beats having a real job. Keep in mind that I was a hotel manager in Edmonton before and had to scrub toilets when housekeepers didn’t come to work. I would put writing about the NHL as a tad better than that.
That’s right Gary Bettman: scrubbing shit is only marginally worse than writing about your league.