Let’s get right out in front of this: the Canucks didn’t lose this series because of officiating. They lost because the Sharks were better, because San Jose’s speed on the forecheck gave them fits, because they couldn’t handle the Sharks’ depth down the middle, and because their penalty-kill went lame at the worst possible time.
But even still, man alive, did that lame penalty kill get a lot of chances to fail, especially compared to San Jose’s. Granted, the Sharks were going to draw more penalties because they had the puck more and they were faster, but as TSN analyst Ray Ferraro noted in Game 4, “From a Vancouver standpoint, you have to feel like any time there has been a 50/50 call, it’s gone against you. They have to be furious.”
The Canucks were indeed furious. While, again, the Sharks made it to Round 2 the old-fashioned way — by outplaying their Round 1 opponent – San Jose was also handed a few big-time momentum shifts throughout the series as a result of some oddball calls. There aren’t many outside of San Jose who feel Daniel Sedin’s penalty in overtime was warranted, for instance.
But as this video from Canucks fan and prolific Youtuber Makaveli suggests, there’s a case to be made that the questionable officiating went beyond that:
A couple quibbles with the video: of course the officiating is going to look biased if you cherry-pick moments and slow everything down. That’s right out of the Eugene Melnyk school of forensics. Plus, the officials are still humans, so human error accounts for some of this as well. Please don’t use this slanted but movingly scored video as irrefutable proof of a grand conspiracy.
Speaking of which, we’re going to hear partial or full conspiracy theories for a few days now, so here are eight words on that: There isn’t one, that’s stupid, don’t be stupid.
I also do not feel, as Jason Botchford suggested, that Kelly Sutherland, who made this call from centre ice and called Alain Vigneault for a bench minor that led to a Canucks’ loss earlier this year, did so Tuesday night because he still hates Alain Vigneault so much. From the Province:
Sutherland refused interviews, and by the NHL’s chicken-s*** regulations, he doesn’t have to stand up and be accountable. He did get word through rights-holder TSN that he called the penalty because he “deemed it a violent shove into the boards where the player couldn’t defend himself from the hit.” (via Farhan Lalji).
It seems obvious Sutherland was calling the injury, not the penalty. He saw Tommy Wingels struggling to get up, and made a player safety call. Either that, or he hates AV, and got his revenge for getting called out. Take your pick.
Yes, that is a Vancouver beat reporter suggesting an official went out of his way to decide a playoff elimination game because he has a vendetta against a coach. And yes, that is downright absurd.
But I do think that the Canucks got a raw deal from the officials in this series. So if it’s not a vendetta and it’s not a conspiracy fit for Mulder and Scully, then what is it?
Their reputation. This video was made after Game 3, when it had become clear to many that the calls weren’t favouring the Canucks. I suspect Kevin Bieksa had an inkling as to why, and tried to do his best to fix it when he went out of his way to call out the Sharks for diving.
Brad Ziemer pointed out that Bieksa repeated the diatribe later on for TV cameras with props – a no-no for debates, but a yes-yes if you’re trying to refocus a narrative in an extremely calculated move.
People laughed because it seemed as though Bieksa had forgotten what team he belonged to, but the more I think about it, the more I think Bieksa’s affiliations were a large part of why he called out the Sharks. This video should give a pretty good indication that the Canucks weren’t getting the benefit of the doubt, and that’s the sort of thing that happens when you have a reputation for diving and dirty play. So Bieksa tried — in vain, as Game 4 would prove — to fit the Sharks with a similar reputation, and in so doing, hopefully strip the benefit of the doubt from them as well. It didn’t work.
Again, it’s not why Vancouver lost, so save your outrage. But it hurt them in this series, and I’m willing to believe that the officiating will continue to be unkind to them until the Canucks figure out a way to change their reputation.
They could start by sending cards to the NHLOA. But don’t put glitter in their cards. People hate glitter, and you’d hate to get a reputation as the team that sends glitter in the mail.Tags: playoffs, reffing, The YouTubes, videos