The New York Rangers rallied back (as we knew they would) to force a Game 7 last night in Ottawa against the Senators to tie the series 3-3, but not for the lack of trying on the part of the officiating.
It really is getting to be ridiculous at this point and at the same time extremely obvious.
With the President's Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks being upset by the Los Angeles Kings, there remains only one Canadian hockey team left in the postseason, so one seriously needs to wonder to what lengths the NHL powers that be up in Toronto will go to keep a Canadian team in the running.
It is unimaginable to me that Chris Neil of Ottawa was not given at least a one-game suspension or any disciplinary hearing for his obvious hit to the head on the Rangers' Brian Boyle in Game 5, leaving him concussed and unable to travel with the team for Monday night's important Game 6 at Scotiabank Center.
In a Daily News article written by Pat Leonard on April 22nd it was stated,
"The distinction in Neil’s hit, it appears, is over the principal point of contact. Though he clearly barrels into Boyle’s head and the head is the initial point of contact, the play is read as a full body check – making the body the principal point of contact – while the head is just one of several parts of the body engaged."
How the NHLPA and Brendan Shanahan failed to discipline this is absolutely beyond me.
Then, when Neil got a little roughed up in the third period of Game 6 by Rangers' Michael Del Zotto, he actually had the audacity to complain to the officials about being hit in the head in the interim.
He got up, skated off and was fine and claims he delivered a clean hit on Boyle, whose head he knew was down in Game 5. Well, karma gets you every time my friend.
It all really began last night with a poor call on Rangers enforcer Mike Rupp during the first period, which seemed to set the tone for the horrible officiating for the night.
Rupp was given an unnecessary roughing call for a few shoves back and forth that were left alone when the Senators engaged in some after-the-whistle jostling.
Despite a myriad of other bad calls (or lack thereof on the Rangers' behalf) the real kicker came in the final minutes of play Monday night when the same Chris Neil (who, need I mention again, shouldn't have even been in the lineup to begin with) distinctly kicked the puck into the net to reduce the Rangers' lead to 3-2 with 38 seconds remaining. The goal was later awarded to Jason Spezza of Ottawa, but was originally in question from Neil's kick.
Either way the goal shouldn't have been allowed, because Neil caused goaltender interference when he thrust Lundqvist out of the net.
Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist nailed it on the head in a post-game interview with MSG's John Giannone when he commented,
"I think it's an absolute joke, you know? I'm gonna freeze the puck; he pushes me out of the net and kicks the puck in the net. And I just told the other guys, it scares me that they can call it a goal. Someone wanted them back in the game for sure and it upset me. But, we played a really good game and we deserve this one."
Thank you Lundqvist for speaking the truth (and hopefully you won't be fined as a result).
He couldn't have been more correct. Someone (in Toronto presumably) wanted the Senators to stay in the game, because there is no way that that goal by Spezza should have counted as it was so clearly a "distinct kicking motion" off of Neil that deflected it in net.
If that were the Rangers, you could be sure that the goal would not have counted, but because it was Ottawa and a Canadian team it was somehow miraculously allowed.
At this point, it is just really getting ridiculous, and I hate to think that the true outcome of a game could be so mistakenly altered by officials and even the NHL themselves.
The referees and their terrible calls are now becoming more of a story than the actual games so, obviously, something is very wrong here.
The NHL is finally getting noticed by the rest of the world, but for all the wrong reasons. I understand the need to regain control, but keep it consistent and stick with the guidelines.
To what lengths will the officials go? And what can the players really do to stop them?
Something has got to give, because enough is truly enough.