The Day After +3.0: Referee show dictates LA Kings 3-2 OT win over Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing7 months ago
When it comes to what we know about playoff hockey, what we’ve seen transpire between the Edmonton Oilers and LA Kings, feels far from it.
In years past we’ve seen higher levels of leiniency in terms of what’s gotten called. But that doesn’t seem to be the case between these Pacific Divison foes, and game three last night was a perfect example.
How bad did it get in the Oilers’ 3-2 overtime loss? Well, you try and deceiper which of these four clips were actually called penalties. We’ll break these down later.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
Yeah, it’s not exactly an easy thing to do.
And the truth of the matter is this was just a little snippet of what happened last night. The issue became so pressing, that Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl critisized the officating after the game.
“I’m not really sure what the standard is right now… You don’t call a clear knee-on-knee right in front of you, then you call a slashing penalty,” said Draisaitl, referring to an unsportsmanlike conduct call he got after Connor McDavid’s second goal, as well as an Alex Edler knee on Warren Foegele. “It wasn’t smart by me, I know that. I just don’t really know what the standard is right now.”
While other members of the Oilers were more ho-hum to take aim directly at officials, you could cut the tension with a knife just hearing their words.
“I saw two after the whistle penalties taken. Debatable in terms of when you go back and look at them if you think that’s the case,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “In the end, those are things that are within our control.”
And to a certain extent, he’s absolutely right.
Draisaitl doesn’t need to smack Drew Doughty on the leg after a goal. Mattias Ekholm doesn’t need to deliver a crosscheck to Anze Kopitar. Vincent Desharnais doesn’t need to to bump Sean Durzi.
But we’re talking about playoff hockey here. We’re not talking about a game on January 20th when it’s -30 C in Edmonton and everybody is miserable. Some may disagree on either side of the fan base, but the truth of the matter is we’re being robbed of incredible playoff hockey by referees who are continuously feeling the need to insert themselves into the game.
Put the whistles away, and let the boys play.
Because when we’ve actually seen 5×5 play between the Oilers and Kings since this series kicked off on Monday, it’s been electric hockey. Last night was no different. Things started off slow for the Oilers with the Kings controlling the pace of play in the first, but Edmonton pushed back hard in the second period. Facing a 1-0 defecit in thanks to an Alex Iafallo goal with 33 seconds left in the first, the Oilers were looking for a way to respond.
It came in thanks to two consecutive powerplay chances that saw Connor McDavid score twice from the same spot. Each lethal wrist shots, the first found the far side of the net with the second shortside. He kept Joonas Koropisalo guessing and it paid off.
The aforementioned Draisaitl penlaty came after McDavid’s second goal, and Adrian Kempe had tied the game up at 2-all. In the end, the game was decided in a similar way as the entirety of the night had gone: by way of ticky-tack calls.
The clips shared in my tweet atop this article help paint the picture. The top left video was Philip Danault slashing Connor McDavid with a two hand swing late in the third period. It went uncalled. The top right clip was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins coming down on Alex Iafallo’s stick. Only Nugent-Hopkins was penalized, and Trevor Moore found a way to jam in a puck at the side of the net on the subsequent powerplay — even though Gabe Vilardi had touched a puck with a high-stick moments before.
The bottom-right video was Klim Kostin interfering with Iafallo 8:34 into the third period — a penalty that didn’t have any impact on the game’s outcome. But in the bottom-left video, Danault holds McDavid down in a similar way that Kostin did Iafallo right at the start of the overtime period.
When Draisaitl talks about standards of officiating, this is what he’s talking about.
The Oilers now find themselves down two games to one with a critial game four coming on Sunday night. They’re far from out of this series, and the players know it.
“There’s no quit in us. You’re going to go through situations like that all season, especially come playoffs,” said Nugent-Hopkins after the game. “I think our team here has battled through a lot of adversity and we’re a resilient team, so it doesn’t change come Sunday night.”
Playing a clean game is going to be key for the Oilers. While they had their fair share of looks on the powerplay last night, it was the fact they found themselves in the box that ultimately cost them. They can’t take any more reckless penalties.
What they need to do, however, is continue pushing the envelope. Through three games at 5×5, the Oilers have controlled 59.24 percent of the shot attempts, 60.59 percent of the expected goal share, 60.74 percent of the scoring chances, but just 50 percent of the actual goals scored. Edmonton’s 4.08 5×5 shooting percentage.
That number should rebound, and Sunday night would be a great time for it to happen.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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