By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — After seeing his team get run out of their own building in Game 3, and giving up four power-play goals in the process, St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube was desperately seeking solutions.
So, on behalf of his team, Berube issued a simple yet succinct public statement about the officiating to that point in the series: “We were the least-penalized team in the league in the first three rounds and now all of a sudden we’ve taken 14 penalties in one series … I don’t agree with all the calls.”
With that, the entire series seems to have changed.
In Games 1-3, the Bruins were awarded 11 power plays, or 3.67 power plays per game. (The Blues were awarded 13 power plays over those three games, but scored three fewer goals than Boston’s power play.)
In Games 4-5, the Bruins have been awarded just five power plays, down to 2.5 power plays per game.
And considering there was one instance of a rather clear missed call led directly to the game-winning goal …
… plus a couple of uncalled head shots …
… Game 5 put the spotlight squarely back on officiating.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who had nothing but nice things to say about the officials after Game 3, lit into referees Kelly Sutherland and Steve Kozari for missing an “egregious” and “blatant” penalty. Cassidy stated directly that the narrative on officiating changed after Berube’s public commentary following Game 3. (Torey Krug also answered affirmatively and directly when asked if Berube’s commentary changed the way the games were officiated, as did David Backes after Game 4.)
As such, the first question posed to Berube on Thursday night was about the officiating. Despite doing so just a few days earlier, Berube said he’s not one to make judgments on officiating.
“Uh, my comments changed [the narrative on officiating]? I don’t agree with it, but that doesn’t matter,” Berube said. “I’m not here to judge the officials. Calls that could have been or couldn’t have been — they go both ways. I mean, there’s calls the other way that could have been called and they weren’t, so I don’t know what to say about that. I really don’t want to say anything about it.”
Considering Berube racked up 3,149 penalty minutes during his NHL career — seventh-most of all time — the coach was asked if his team has adopted his attitude and playing style. Berube went back to how rarely his team was penalized entering this series against Boston.
“We play a hard game. We’re a physical team. We forecheck hard,” Berube said. “I’ll say it again: We are the least penalized team in the playoffs. End of story. I don’t need to talk anymore about it.”
Berube may disagree with the Bruins’ assessment, but the results — and, really, the non-calls — speak for themselves. Now the Bruins are trying to follow Berube’s lead by speaking out. It may, however, be too little too late.