WINNIPEG — They say it’s not a series until the road team wins a game.
We say, it’s not a series until the referees botch their first call, it costs someone a game, and the two head coaches look at identical video of the incident and draw conclusions that are absolutely biased in favour of their own team.
So, in the wake of the zebras blowing that crosscheck to the head by Winnipeg’s Josh Morrissey on Minnesota’s Eric Staal in Game 4 — a crosscheck Morrisey was suspended one game for on Wednesday — it is once again time for the best Canadian game show since Definition:
We bring you “Coaching Cow Pies” featuring contestants Bruce Boudreau of the Minnesota Wild, and the Winnipeg Jets‘ Paul Maurice.
Gentlemen, you’ll be working on a cow pie meter between one and 10.
You’re up first, Bruce.
“I’m not up here … trying to get the league to call extra stuff. It was a vicious cross-check to the face.”
Well, Bruce. C’mon now. You know the Jets are already without three of their Top 6 defencemen, and a suspension to Morrissey (who played 22:19 in Game 4) would be crippling. But it was a cross-check to the face, and by definition those are always somewhat vicious…
So, the cow pie meter SAYS! Five!
“I would be surprised (if there was a suspension). There’s a penalty there and the very most you might look at is a fine.”
Now, Paul. Remember when Minnesota winger Marcus Foligno fell while blocking a shot, spun on the ice and somehow managed to punch Tyler Myers in the knee? Remember how you suggested it was a dirty play?
Well, how many dirty punches to the knee have we all seen over the years? Perhaps zero? And how many cross-checks to the face have we seen that garnered suspensions?
And the cow pie meter SAYS! Seven!
Your turn, Bruce.
“Usually I’m pretty subjective. That had a … definite impact on the whole game.”
OK, Bruce. It’s the playoffs. No one is subjective.
Also, did it have more or less impact on the game than the Wild having their third defensive pairing out on the ice with 30 seconds left in Period 1, when Mark Scheifele’s goal came against the pairing of Nate Prosser and Carson Soucy, who shared 26 career playoff games between them prior to Game 4?
The Wild did not score a goal in Game 4. Eric Staal didn’t miss a shift. Did it really impact the WHOLE game?
And the cow pie meter SAYS! Eight!
The last one goes to you, Paul.
“I’m not surprised there’s a hearing (for Morrissey). You (media) guys have been running it for a day and a half, pretty hard.”
Great effort here, Paul. Considering you met the media just after noon Wednesday, and the game ended just after 9:30 p.m. the night before. So, the media was “running” this story for about 15 hours. And people slept through eight of those.
So the cow pie meter SAYS! Ten!
Let’s take a look at what you win, Paul…
Look, here is what every referee would tell you once they view the clip of Morrissey v. Staal. The two referees working Game 4 — Steve Kozari and Brian Pochmara — missed the cross-check. They blew the call.
There isn’t a person working the NHL shield today who would argue that.
The linesmen could have made the call, but it would have to be a major or match penalty for them to whistle down the play and overrule the referees. How many years have you watched hockey? How many of those calls have you seen linesmen make?
Now, take Ryan Suter and Zach Parise out of the Wild lineup. Add the bounce-back king, Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who almost never loses two straight, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a botched call that elicits this hockey chestnut from the postgame podium.
“It cost us the game.”
We won’t even bother telling you which coach said that one.
“Well, usually I’m pretty subjective in that, ‘OK, it was a bad call, but we didn’t deserve to win anyway,’ began Boudreau on the first of two off days between Games 4 and 5. “But that had a definite … impact on the whole game. If you think that it would have been a 5-on-3, and he would have been out of the game. They wouldn’t have had the opportunity at the end of the first, we would have started the second on a power play…”
Referees will sometimes guess on a call that they only halfway see, but never, ever on one that puts a team down two men. How did they miss one? The puck was on the half wall and the cross-check happened in an area no one was looking at — until Staal is lying on the ice.
In the blink of an eye, it is too late to call anything less than a five-minute major. None of four officials were certain enough for that.
By the time the Department of Player Safety rules on Morrissey, the Wild were trailing the series 3-1 and are all but dead in this series against a Jets team that does not look ripe for three straight losses.
It was a bad break. One that likely won’t even out until next spring, or the spring after — when Boudreau may or may not be the beneficiary standing behind Minnesota’s bench.
“There was a penalty,” said Maurice. “They missed it.”
Really, that’s all that matters.