Last season in a matchup against the Los Angeles Kings, the Detroit Red Wings benefited from one of the worst decisions by a referee in recent memory. With less than a minute left, and trailing 2-1, Niklas Kronwall ripped a shot from the point that deflected into the protective netting and bounced back into play and off the back of goaltender Jonathan Quick where it ultimately landed in the net. Per the rules of the game, once the puck hits the protective netting it is deemed out of play. However, the option to review the puck being in or out of play is not within the rules so the goal stood and the Red Wings went on to win the shootout.
That was probably the last ounce of luck the Wings have seen in the last 10 months. They have endured countless injuries and an unlucky first round matchup against the Boston Bruins who eventually steamrolled them after the first game. This season, it seems the Wings are playing a more fluid game but have been on the wrong end of just about every single call and most of them have been game changing to say the least.
The second game of the season against the Anaheim Ducks, the Wings were about to gain at least a point as overtime beckoned which would have been a great morale booster as they had just stunned the “mighty” Boston Bruins the previous game. However, the always bothersome Ryan Getzlaf tripped Kronwall in the corner of the Wings zone and walked in all alone on a helpless Jimmy Howard and roofed one, stealing at least one point from the grasp of the Wings. It was a blatant non-call and perhaps a bit of foreshadowing to the head scratching officiating that is happening thus far this season.
This brings us to a matchup in Montreal. The Habs were on a hot streak and to defeat them in front of their frenzied home crowd would be an accomplishment in itself, but to do it against the poor officiating would have been a downright miracle. The Wings had a Pavel Datsyuk goal waved off in the waning minutes of the 3rd period that would most likely have secured a great victory for them. The Wings ended up losing that game and came out with a measly one point against a division rival.
Sunday in Buffalo should have been a cupcake game, an easy two points. The Wings had a late 3rd period lead and crumbled. Henrik Zetterberg had his goal waved off in overtime because the officials stated that Johan Franzen was in the crease, therefore not allowing the goaltender to have an attempt to make the save on Hank’s shot. The Wings went on to lose, thus surrendering an extra point again.
Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden against the Blueshirts, things ended even uglier. To start Carl Hagelin high sticked Danny Dekeyser in the face, drawing blood. This is a textbook double minor and should have sent the Red Wings onto the ice for a four minute powerplay against an atrocious Rangers penalty kill, but no there was no call. Tomas Tatar looked to be the hero as he tied the game up for the Wings on a mad scramble in front of Henrik Lundqvist with less than 10 seconds left. Overtime came around and the Wings were again on the end of a questionable tripping penalty called on no other than Pavel Datsyuk, owner of the surest hands in the league. The Rangers netted the winner on the ensuing 4 on 3 with Rick Nash standing in the crease, slightly impeding Jonas Gustavsson from making the save. This was eerily similar to the call Franzen received on Henrik Zetterberg’s goal in Buffalo, except this time the referee allowed the goal to stand. It very may well have been a goal for the Rangers, but where is the consistency that should be ever-present in the best hockey league in the world? Understandably so, Mike Babcock was downright furious after the game, “It’s got to be the same all the time, one way or the other. I want a second point or we shouldn’t get one point. I don’t know how it works.”
The Wings came out with 2 points on the road trip on what could possibly have been 5. Add those points to the minimum of 1 that was robbed for them on the mindless non-call on Getzlaf in the second game of the season and that is 6 points. The Wings barely made the playoffs last season. 6 points is a huge swing, and is very disturbing to think of how Detroit has been robbed thus far this year. One can only hope this team stays healthy, keeps their heads on straight, and plays through all the garbage calls that may come their way the remainder of the season. After all, nobody likes the guy that blames everything on the men in stripes.