Unfortunately, the Law of Hildy was broken last night, and not in a good way. After the Thrashers lost in overtime (AGAIN) to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I was listening to the Blues fight back from a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings on my way home from the Atlanta game. Overtime was forced, and the Blues had a chance to snatch two points from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately, they only snatched one point, and that could very well be because two referees and two linesmen need Coke bottle lenses. I don’t like saying “the refs cost us that game!” over missed calls, because it’s my philosophy that the team should be playing hard enough for sixty minutes that missed calls or silly penalties don’t cost them the entire match. Yeah, I get upset when I see missed calls – who doesn’t? But one blown call shouldn’t keep your team from getting points in the standings.
The frustrating part is that the Blues really fought back to tie the game and force the overtime period. It doesn’t excuse the fact that they had to fight back as hard as they had to so they could make up ground, but it does add to the irritation level. Darren Helm scored the game winning overtime goal last night to help the Wings win, 4-3. Good for him. But he did it on a Detroit five on four. The problem? It’s overtime – five players on the ice are too many men. Here’s the goal – it’s a clear as day:
Apparently even the Detroit TV crew caught it it was so obvious. Because, well, people can count to five. In screengrabs of the replay nabbed by St. Louis Game Time reader PeacockJac, it’s even more obvious (scroll to the comments). As a Red Wings fan commented in that same thread, bad calls have happened to the Wings in worse situations – like the Stanley Cup Finals, where the refs didn’t call a too many men penalty even though the Penguins had six guys out on the ice for twenty-two seconds of play (and 15 minutes of NBC freaking out). Bad calls happen in worse situations than they did last night – but it seems like they happen fairly often. Nearly daily you see posts on blogs regarding missed or blown calls that cost games, goals, or players.
What can be done? Some calls are just missed because they happen during the speed of the game. Human error is going to contribute to that, and that’s fine. Frustrating, but understandable. Calls like too many men, though, usually aren’t those kind of calls. Officiating can be more than occasionally inexcusably sloppy. Video review can’t be made of every hit, and games can’t entirely be re-played because of a doofy call or non-call. In situations like this, though, where play continues after an obvious too many men penalty, it almost seems like there’s enough time to review and fix the problem (of course, unless a goal happens ASAP like last night). The problem is, how? Anyone have any suggestions?