Analysis on how NHL playoff officiating is an embarrassment and how McDavid paid for it:
Several fans were stunned: on Monday night, the Edmonton Oilers season came to an end with a triple-overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets, completing a four-game sweep. Everyone expected the Oilers to make it a long run this time around, thanks star power like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse. The Jets had also had a difficult end to the regular season, which prompted several fans to see Edmonton win this first-round series.
While the Jets came out fighting, with an impressive comeback in Game 3, insider Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic believes something else played in Winnipeg’s favour: the terrible NHL officiating throughout the postseason. (Some will say all the damn time, but that’s a debate for another day).
Luszczyszyn starts his analysis by pointing out that McDavid drew zero (0) penalties during the four-game series.
“Anyone who watched even just one period of the series knows how ridiculous that is. You don’t keep McDavid to just four points in four games without committing some crimes along the way, especially with arguably the shallowest defence group in the playoffs. But it didn’t matter if McDavid was held, hooked, tripped, kneed, mauled – which he repeatedly was throughout the series – because the referees looked the other way. Rachel Doerrie, formerly of the New Jersey Devils, rewatched every McDavid shift for the series and counted “ over 30 ” infractions that were missed, which sounds about right based on my own live viewing. McDavid earned zero.”
The insider makes it clear that he enjoys to see the players play, the “let them play” ethos and that playoff hockey is different. But he simply cannot wrap his head around the fact that McDavid drew no penalty during the series, almost blaming the officials for the Oilers’ demise.
“This past season McDavid took 1,182 shifts, drawing 29 penalties. That means that, based on the standard set for his play, McDavid had a 2.5 percent chance of drawing a penalty on any given shift this season. Already that seems ridiculously conservative, but again, that’s the standard. McDavid took 121 shifts in these playoffs over four games. Based on a normal distribution, the chances of drawing exactly zero penalties over a four-game series is just five percent. Not impossible, but highly unlikely that it happens by random chance. We can all use our eyes to see that “random chance” and “ignoring it” were the same thing in this series. McDavid had an eight percent chance of earning six or more calls over the series – which he had every single right to earn.”
Luszczyszyn is ready to be criticized for his statement, saying that many fans will use the “star treatment” to debate his position on McDavid. But to him, it does not matter: “The problem is that “star treatment” when it comes to the NHL is closer to Mario Kart than a league like the NBA (a league that understands its star players drive growth exponentially more than anything else and more often than not they /do/ deserve calls due to how much more skilled they are).”
One thing we can all agree with Luszczyszyn’s article is that Referee Discourse takes center stage during the postseason. And no one wants that.
What we might want though is to know how McDavid feels about the referees not calling a single penalty on him during the four-game series.
“McDavid somehow drawing zero penalties in back-to-back postseasons should be the final straw. The league’s best and brightest player, its most marketable star, allowed to be manhandled against the rules every night and every shift, forced to fight through something he shouldn’t have to.”
We’ll never know, but let’s hope the Oilers don’t just blame the officiating for not showing up to the postseason…