A Hockey Post? Really?

Yes, really. I just had to comment on it, as I’m sure millions hundreds of not just Philadelphia Flyers fans, but hockey fans, are as well: the Flyers got jobbed in Game 1 against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Flyers went into the second period with a 2-0 lead and looking much better than the Canadiens, but the crap was only beginning to hit the fan when Alexei Kovalev used his stick to bat down the puck into the net behind goaltender Marty Biron. Everyone who isn’t a Canadiens fan could clearly see that it was a high-stick (above the crossbar) simply by the fact that… his stick hit the crossbar. The referees’ whistles, however, were silent.

That stuff happens, karma, yada yada yada…

With about a minute left in regulation in the third period and the orange and black up 3 to 2, center Mike Richards clearly knocked Kovalev down with his shoulder, but the refs claimed that Richards kneed him, and the Canadiens got a power play with 1:09 remaining on the clock. Unsurprisingly, they pulled their goaltender to create a 6-on-4 advantage, and, as luck would have it, Jeff Carter’s stick broke on the face-off — essentially making it 6-on-3 — and the puck glided right over to Kovalev who promptly tied the game at threes with 29 seconds left in the third period.

The Flyers’ bad luck continued when Tom Kostopoulos scored 48 seconds into overtime.

So, we can say that the referees were responsible for two Canadiens goals and indirectly responsible for another (Kostopoulos’).

Even worse is that Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, calls the officiating “good” according to an article by Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald:

“You know what? I think the officiating is good,” said Bettman. “I think it undergoes intense scrutiny this time of year. Of all the people on the ice and surrounding the ice, our officials probably make the fewest mistakes. This is a game of mistakes, including the officials, and we hold them accountable.”

It’s not just the labor issues that have the NHL lagging well behind the other three major sports organizations — it’s the blatantly awful officiating, and the commissioner of it all has not a clue.

BDD: On Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge

I will be starting a weekly segment updating Ryan Howard’s strikeouts: how many he’s on pace for in a full season, and where his K-total ranks among the game’s elite starting pitchers. Currently, he has more strikeouts (32) than every starting pitcher in baseball except Johan Santana (also 32).

I tackled this issue previously, but given Lidge’s early-season success, it was worth mentioning again: Brad Lidge quiets those amateur psychoanalysts who think he was mentally anguished by Albert Pujols’ three-run homer in Game 5 of the ’05 NLCS.