An extremely frustrating moment for Minnesota Wild fans during the game against the Vegas Golden Knights last night. It wasn’t the fact that the Wild lost 3-2, it was that officials were seemingly letting things go that were clearly against the rules.
At one point, Eric Staal and Deryk Engelland were battling in front of Vegas Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Staal was clearly attempting to screen while waiting for a potential pass or rebound in front of the net. Battles in that area are far from uncommon in the NHL but as you can see in the video below, Engelland clearly takes liberties with Staal as he lies prone on the ice. Staal then goes to the bench in pain. Check it out:
At one point, you can even see Engelland looking over his shoulder to see if a referee is watching. In the final seconds of the video, you can also see an official skate into the frame clearly watching the entire sequence, yet no call. Even the announcers point out the multiple crosschecks and no call by the refs.
Staal would manage to get an assist in the game, as well as two shots on goal, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the Knights. It’s been tough to understand what is and isn’t a penalty in the league in the last couple of years as things in one game that are let go are called repeatedly in another. Consistency when it comes to penalties is not the league’s strongpoint, to say the least. Staal, who is already playing with an injury, did comments on the incident following the game:
"I was already laying on the ice and just trying to get up and (the refs) continue to give him free shots. That's the ref's job. He's doing his job. Obviously with what I'm dealing with, wasn't feeling very good."
Very mature comment from the 35-year-old.