BOSTON, MA – The Blues won game 5 in Boston, 2-1, taking a 3 games to 2 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. The game was not without controversy as the refs kept their whistles in their pockets for several plays that could have been penalties. After St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube complained about the excessive number of penalties being called on his team in Game 3, the pendulum swung the other way. Will Berube’s Jedi Mind Trick on the refs carry the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history?
Today’s NHL is speed and skill and the bruising teams of days past are all but gone. But the Blues are a throw back and it’s no secret that they wanted to neutralize the Boston Bruins speed edge by playing a physical brand of hockey. They beat the Sharks into submission as several key players on San Jose weren’t able to finish the series. It was clear from the opening puck drop that they wanted to do the same thing to the Bruins.
It worked in Game 2 as they knocked out puck moving D-man Matt Grzelcyk with a concussion. The Bruins played the rest of the game with only five D and it caught up to them in the OT loss. But in Game 3, the Blues took seven penalties and Boston put the puck in the net on five of the resulting power plays. The Blues lost 7-2 and goalie Jordan Bennington was pulled for the first time all season.
It was easy to see from the start the refs would have a big influence on this series. The Blues wanted to play physically and the Bruins have a deadly power play. If they called tight games, advantage Bruins. If they let ’em play, advantage Blues.
Berube knows this better than anyone and after Game 3, he said:
“We were the least penalized team in the first three rounds, and now all of sudden we’ve taken 14 penalties in one series. “I don’t agree with all the calls.”
Clearly Berube took Phil Jackson’s class, Manipulating Refs 101. And it worked. The Blues only received three penalties each in Games 4 and 5 (two of which were delay of games, which are automatic), and the Bruins didn’t score on any of those six power plays.
The most egregious non-call in Game 5 was a clear trip by Tyler Bozek on Noel Acciari that left him prone on the ice while David Perron slid in what would turn out to be the decisive goal.
This was not a borderline call. Bozak clearly took out Acciari’s leg and flipped him backwards. Acciari did not return to the game. Were Berube’s comments still lingering in the back of their minds, as the refs swallowed their whistles?
After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy fought back, perhaps a game too late.
“I’m a fan of the game. This is the National Hockey League, it’s getting a black eye with their officiating this playoffs… it was egregious.”
He’s right. And it will be interesting to see how the refs call Game 6. My guess is there will be some more penalties. Boston will need to get the power play going again or it might not matter.
What can I say about Zdeno Chara playing with a broken jaw that hasn’t already been said? The guy can’t talk and can barely open his mouth, but there he was out there playing hockey on the biggest stage at 42 years of age. In what other sport would he have been out there? Spoiler alert – None. What an absolute warrior.
If the Bruins manage to pull out this series, he’ll go down in Boston lore with Curt Schilling and the pretend bloody sock.
That’s all for me. Come back tomorrow for Junoir Blaber if you want to hear about his week. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.