BOSTON—This is the big test facing the Boston Bruins now: Can they handle the missed call in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final as well as the Blues handled the missed call in Game 3 of the Western Conference final.
That was the game where a blatant hand pass by San Jose led to the winning goal in overtime. It was a blown call significant enough that the league acknowledged the mistake, replay review policies are going to be looked at, and the officials who didn’t make the call didn’t work another game in the post-season. But after that call, the Blues put it aside, won the next three games and advanced.
Now the Bruins know how the Blues felt. To most of the hockey-watching world, Tyler Bozak tripped Noel Acciari midway through the third period of Game 5. Referees Steve Kozari and Kelly Sutherland didn’t call it. While Acciari was still lying on the ice, the Blues scored to make it 2-0, and that goal loomed large in the Blues’ 2-1 win that put them one win away from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title.
Now Boston has a challenge: Can they do what the Blues did and put it behind them?
“I know everyone’s going to be ready for Game 6,” Acciari said. “Everyone’s fired up. That’s the thing about this team. We never give up and so it will be a good Game 6.”
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But first, they had some thoughts about Game 5.
“That’s a penalty every time,” said defenceman Torey Krug. “There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. I’m all for letting us play, but when it leads to scoring chances and the opposing team ends up with the puck, it should be going our way. It should be a penalty. They missed one there, I think.”
“Yeah it looked like a tripping, probably,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “Things happen quick, but it doesn’t help to complain about it afterwards. But, you know, I mean it (stinks) it was kind of a deciding play of the game. So, it is what it is.”
“It’s a missed call,” Acciari said. “It was big in the outcome of the game. They scored a goal off it that ends up being the game winner. It’s embarrassing.”
The Bruins, to some extent, felt that Blues coach Craig Berube’s comments after Game 3, when he said that he had some issues with the officiating, led to a change in how the series was called. In that game, the Bruins scored four goals on four power plays. Since then, they’ve had five power plays in two games (going 0 for 5), but the bigger concern for Boston coach Bruce Cassidy was the calls that aren’t being made. He felt there were some hits, like one by Ivan Barbashev on Marcus Johansson in the first period, should have been penalties.
“Those are the hits they want to get out of the game, correct?” Cassidy said. “That’s what I hear a lot about. Clearly, they missed a couple tonight. It’s a fast game. I sat here two days ago or whatever it was and said I believe these officials are at this level because they’ve earned the right to be here. You should be getting the best. But, I mean, the narrative changed after Game 3. There’s a complaint or whatever put forth by the opposition. It just seems to have changed everything.
“The non-call on Acciari … their player is on his way to the box. It’s right in front of the official. It’s a slew foot. Our guy’s gone. The spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion. I mean, it’s blatant. It had a big effect on the game. This has happened. I’m a fan of the game. The National Hockey League’s getting a black eye with their officiating in these playoffs, and there’s another one that’s going to be talked about. I thought it was a great hockey game. That call, probably … there’s time, but it really made it difficult for us to get the win tonight. So I’m disappointed. So I guess to answer your original question, it was egregious. But we’re moving on. We’re getting ready for Game 6.”
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Cassidy was asked what was said on the bench after the goal.
“What was being said was he missed an eff-in call,” Cassidy said. “But after that we had to settle down and play. Listen, we thought we got screwed, but you’ve gotta keep playing and we did. We scored the next goal and gave ourselves the chance to win. We tried to rally around that.”
Boston was down 3-2 to Toronto in the first round and rallied to take that series, winning Game 6 in Toronto and then taking Game 7 at home. So they know they can turn things around.
“I think we’ve done a good job with that over the course of the year,” Rask said. “We stay in the moment and we focus on the next game ahead. That’s always the biggest thing that matters to us. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you focus on the next one and try to play good enough to win and then you live with the results again. Now the season’s on the line again so we’ve got to go up there and play our best.”