By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The nature of officiating in sports is that there will always be some disagreement about what constitutes a good call, what constitutes a bad call, and what falls somewhere in between. Officiating remains an inexact science.
Yet, at the same time, there generally has to be something that happens in order for a referee to call a penalty. That’s usually the case, but it did not appear to be so on Tuesday night in Raleigh.
With the Bruins on a power play and looking to gain some breathing room after being under siege for most of the first period of Game 3 vs. Carolina, Jake DeBrusk skated to try to win a puck battle in the corner of the rink. Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin won the race to the puck, and DeBrusk somewhat halfheartedly got his stick in on the action.
But that involvement of the stick rose to violent levels, according to the referee stationed out in the neutral zone. He raised his arm, sending DeBrusk to the penalty box and negating the Bruins’ power play — a unit that has been lethal for this entire postseason and for this conference final series.
The Bruins had been successful in four of their seven power plays in the first two games of this series.
The head-scratcher was compounded when David Krejci committed a high-sticking penalty — a clear penalty — on the ensuing faceoff, putting Boston down a man. Thanks in large part to Tuukka Rask, though, the game remained in a scoreless tie through the penalty time.
Another puzzling penalty was assessed to the Bruins later in the period, after Rask covered up a puck. Charlie Coyle engaged in some pushing and shoving against Nino Niedereiter behind the net, drawing a roughing minor. Shortly thereafter, Saku Maenalanen engaged with Torey Krug behind the net, with Maenalanen seeming to get the better of Krug.
Despite Krug not offering any visible punch or violent shove on Maenalanen, both players were sent to the box with matching roughing minors. That exchange ended up sending Coyle and Krug to the box, while only Maenalanen was penalized for Carolina.
It was debatable that Coyle had done more than Niedereiter to deserve a penalty, but that same matter was not in question regarding Krug and Maenalanen. Nevertheless, two Bruins went to the penalty box, giving Carolina a fourth power play of the period.
Technically speaking, neither of these penalties damaged the Bruins on the scoreboard, as the game headed to the first intermission in a scoreless tie. And because Justin Williams went in for a high hit on Krug late in the period, the Canes’ captain was sent to the box three separate times in the opening 20 minutes.
That made things look somewhat even, with Carolina getting four power plays while Boston got two of its own. But the call on Krug was more than questionable, and the call on DeBrusk looked like it was actually invented in the mind of a referee. The Bruins would then open up a 2-0 lead early in the second period, making the officiating from the first period a distant memory.
It wasn’t the best period of officiating for referees Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland.