Top Stories of 2023 – No. 8: Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl criticizes reffing in playoffs

Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
6 months ago
Now that we’re into the Christmas break, it’s a perfect time to take a look back at the year that was. Over the next few days, we’ll be counting down the most-viewed stories at Oilersnation of 2023.
While Leon Draisaitl may not make the most outlandish comments on a regular basis, instead saving his quips for special moments — ala “why are you so pissy?” — coming in at No. 8, we have a story about him being critical of the reffing against the LA Kings in last years playoffs.
This, from after game three:
Leon Draisaitl isn’t happy with the refs.
The Edmonton Oilers lost Game 3 of their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings on Friday by a score of 3-2 in overtime.
Earlier in the game, the Oilers put themselves on top when Connor McDavid scored back-to-back power-play goals. Immediately after McDavid’s second goal, Draisaitl was handed a slashing penalty for giving Kings defenceman Drew Doughty a tap on his shin pads. The Kings would score on the subsequent power play to tie the game at 2-2.
After the game, Draisaitl sounded off on the referees opting to call him for a light slash while ignoring Doughty throwing a knee-on-knee hit on McDavid…
“We can definitely be smarter. I took a bad penalty there. That’s on me, but 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. It wasn’t smart by me, I know that. I just don’t really know what the standard is right now.”
The clips from the game are below, but for those who don’t recall, this was a testy series between the two clubs. The Kings took game one in Edmonton with a 4-3 overtime win in a game where there were 20 penalty minutes handed out — all in the form of minor calls, with a pair being coinciding roughing penalties 7:53 into the game.
In game two, the Oilers roared back with a 4-2 win — a game that was much calmer from both sides, as no coincidental minor penalties were called, and just 10 PIM were handed out.
With the series tied heading back to LA for game three, things — as you will see below — escalated. A total of 13 two-minute calls were handed out for a wide assortment of things, from tripping to unsportsmanlike conduct to cross-checking and roughing. The disdain between the two clubs was apparent, doubly so considering this was the second year in a row they met in the first round of the playoffs. Nonetheless, it was a rough game for referees Kevin Pollock and Garrett Rank.
With the Kings winning that game in overtime, taking a 2-1 series lead, the Oilers themselves put together three very impressive games. They won game four in LA 5-4 in overtime to split the series, then took game five 6-3 at home. Back on the road for game six, the Oilers had a back-and-forth game with the Kings, and with the game deadlocked at 4 with just over three minutes left in the game, Kailer Yamamoto scored the game-winner to send the Oilers through to the second round.

The full top 15

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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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