Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Game 7 Caps vs. Flyers 4-22-2008 Post-Mortem

We're not going to bother with the usual breakdown of tonight's game because the Flyers did not win the game and the Caps certainly did not lose it. It seems rather unfair for us to praise those who did well and question those who did not because this game tonight was handed, gift wrapped, on a silver platter to a Philadelphia Flyers team that did not earn it and the Washington Capitals deserved a better fate than what befell them tonight.

To begin with our deconstruction of referee Paul Devorski, we look at his checkered past, especially in the playoffs, and openly question why he is still allowed to officiate in the NHL and is given plum assignments such as Playoff Game 7's.

You may not remember, but Paul Devorski was the referee who botched the situation in Detroit 12 years ago and did not eject a player, Darren McCarty, who should have been ejected for his attack on Claude Lemiuex. Devorski even concurs that he blew this situation and to add insult to injury, McCarty scored the game winning goal in overtime of that game.

Paul Devorski was also the referee on April 24th, 2005 who botched the Too Many Men on the ice call against the Caps in Game 6 of our Series against the Ning. The rules at the time stated that a team whistled for Too Many Men in the last two minutes of regulation play or at any point in overtime shall be penalized not with a bench minor, but with the awarding of a Penalty Shot to the other team. This rule has since been changed and now only applies to certain Delay of Game Penalties but five years ago, Devorski once again botched a call and improperly gave the Ning a Power Play that they scored on to win the game and the series.

Seeing a pattern yet?

About three weeks ago now, we were treated to the arcane interpretation of the goaltender interference rule that states, in summary, if an attacking player pushes a defending player into the goaltender in such a manner that prevents the goaltender from making a save and a goal is scored. The goal is to be disallowed because of goaltender interference but no penalty is to be called if the contact was incidental. We even noted that night that you could wipe out a significant portion of goals scored in the NHL with that rule. Tonight we had a textbook example of such an interference, but the goal for the Flyers in the second period was allowed to stand. We noticed that after that incident, the Flyers were driving our defensemen into the goal crease in an attempt to take advantage of this again on just about every rush they had.

As for Don Koharski, he's well known for being a problem referee. There's a reason why Jim Schoenfeld attacked him in New Jersey. The fact that he's still around is as troubling as Chris Rooney being allowed to work the postseason.

And the sad part is, we actually respect their decision tonight to let the players decide the game in the third period of a tied Game 7. We thought that was only appropriate which is why we're livid beyond all reason at the decision to whistle Tom Poti for a ticky-tack tripping call five minutes into overtime. We've said before and we'll say again that we don't often get upset about what is called on the Caps but what isn't called on our opponents and for the life of us we cannot understand why Scottie Upshall was never penalized for his constant instigating all night long. Hooks, holds, trips, cross checks, elbows, and other penalties on the Flyers were ignored all night long. Again we respect the idea of letting the players decide it but you have to call things evenly no matter what. There was no sense of balance on any of the calls and non-calls made tonight.

Five years ago, Dave Jackson made a blunder as bad as Paul Devorski did tonight that cost the Caps a goal against and Jackson did not work another game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jackson improperly whistled Olie Kolzig for a double minor high sticking penalty when he hit Vincent Lecavlier on the follow through of a clearing attempt. While the NHL's attempts at accountability for their officials is laudable, it often comes a day late and a dollar short. What does it matter to the Washington Capitals and Washington Capitals fans that Devorski won't get to work another playoff game this year? The damage has already been done, the Caps season is over and we'll read stories about how the Caps still can't close out a playoff series. We'll read about how we have better days ahead of us and really shouldn't have been in this position in the first place. When we should be hearing the Caps braintrust, lead by Ted Leonsis, George McPhee, and Bruce Boudreau screaming bloody murder about what transpired tonight instead of wringing their hands, saying "well, it was a penalty and tough break for us," and taking any complaints they may have quietly through official channels where we'll get a mealy mouthed apology and nothing will change.

And the worst part about all of this is that the Flyers and their neanderthal fans will go on believing that they earned this and of course are the dominate team when nothing could be further from the truth.

Finally it is stuff like this that really turns us off to this league. We're sick and tired of the best league in the world being plagued by officiating that is nowhere near the level of play on the ice. Right now we could care less about the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for this year because as far as we're concerned, they've been tainted. And if Paul Devorski works another game this spring, the NHL, which has little credibility to begin with, would should show that this is nothing more than a mere suggestion than what it is purported to be.

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