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Charlie McAvoy high sticks Pontus Holmberg in the face and then drives him into the boards from behind
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Officiating a factor in Leafs' Game 1 loss; Bruins get away with one

Published April 21, 2024 at 10:55
BY MIKE ARMENTI
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The Maple Leafs let the Boston Bruins get away with not one, but two last night, providing no response when Charlie McAvoy took Pontus Holmberg out of the play with a sneaky high-stick and a very hard, questionable hit.

Last night's loss for the Leafs was a particularly embarrassing one on the scoreboard. The Leafs dropped a 5-1 decision to the Bruins in Game 1 and let the Bruins dictate the pace of the game all night. The Leafs had their chances, but were unable to convert, while the Bruins were able to find the back of the net early and often. Losing Game 1 in that fashion is not exactly the greatest recipe for success if you're the Leafs.

The game was a tone-setter for the series, with the two Atlantic Division foes combining for 117 hits on the night. This is going to be a tough series no matter which way it goes. Unfortunately for the Leafs, the officiating has favoured the Bruins early.

The difference in how the referees viewed the Bruins' play versus how they viewed the Leafs' play was somewhat frustrating. The lopsided officiating was never more evident than when Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy took Pontus Holmberg into the boards, hitting him hard in the numbers in the 3rd period, just after high-sticking him in the face. McAvoy received no high-sticking call, nor a boarding call on the play.



Ignore the high-stick, if you will, because sometimes they're missed, especially on a quick play like that. But there's no question that McAvoy drives Holmberg into the boards right in the numbers immediately afterwards. How that wasn't called is beyond me. How can you not call that, when you're calling ticky-tack penalties like this one?


Another prime example of how one-sided the officiating was occurred when Bruins forward Jakub Lauko and Jake McCabe were battling along the wall behind the Leafs' net in the 3rd period. Lauko, with the puck, was being hounded by McCabe, who delivered a series of little shoves to try to push him off the puck. Somehow, this resulted in an interference penalty to McCabe literal seconds after Lauko "accidentally" fell on top of McCabe, and had an arm wrapped around him preventing him from getting up momentarily.


The penalty scaling was awful in this one, with the Bruins having 6-3 advantage through most of the 3rd period until Brandon Carlo fired a puck clean over the glass, forcing the officials to make the delay-of-game call, resulting in a more balanced 6-4 penalty advantage for the Bruins.

Obviously, it's not the officials' fault that the Leafs couldn't convert on the power play, going 0/3 on the night, but if the penalty scaling is that lopsided and the Bruins are getting the advantage every game like that, it's going to be tough for the Leafs to overcome that sort of adversity.

The Leafs have not received the benefit of the doubt very often when it comes to officiating. What's even more frustrating is that when Sheldon Keefe gets after the officials during games for not doing their jobs, he has been fined multiple times for expressing his frustrations so publicly.

Whether you agree with the idea that the Leafs are officated differently or not, you can't look at McAvoy's pair of infractions back-to-back in a game where the Leafs spent so much time in the box and tell me that the Leafs and Bruins are playing by the same set of rules. No, the penalties weren't why the Leafs lost last night, but it certainly didn't help them to have to play against the Bruins and the officials all night either.
POLL
April 21   |   459 answers
Officiating a factor in Leafs' Game 1 loss; Bruins get away with one

Do you think the Leafs and Bruins were both treated fairly by the officials in Game 1?

Yes, the referees were fine in Game 17215.7 %
No, the Bruins clearly had the advantage29864.9 %
I'm sick of talking about officiating4610 %
Don't care, just win439.4 %
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