Your Boston-Washington Game 7 officials are…

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The referees for tonight’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal Game 7 between Boston and Washington are Stephen Walkom (#24) and Eric Furlatt (#27).

Working the lines will be Greg Devorski (#54) and Steve Barton (#59).

Notes

— Walkom’s one of the league’s most veteran officials. He formerly served as the NHL’s vice president and director of officiating before coming out of retirement in 2009. He’s since worked the 2010 and 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

— Along with Dan O’Halloran, Walkom called the somewhat-famous “infraction free” Game 7 between Boston and Tampa Bay in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

From Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe:

This was not just a game of clean, breathtaking, exquisite hockey. It was a game of clean, breathtaking, exquisite, and penalty-free hockey.

That’s correct. Neither referee Dan O’Halloran nor referee Stephen Walkom saw the need to raise his right hand to signify an infraction. That’s because no player wished to be the guy whose borderline tripping, slashing, boarding, interference, holding the stick, or any other kind of penalty would lead to a damaging power play. If this meant there was less hitting than one might expect, so be it.

Roughing? Are you mad? Not in this game.

“It was a credit to both teams’ discipline and attention to detail,’’ Boucher said.

“I think the referees tonight let the two teams decide the outcome,’’ declared Bruins mentor Claude Julien. “I thought the referees handled themselves extremely well.’’

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it marked the first penalty-free playoff game in the last 20 years.

— Walkom’s come under fire this postseason for his involvement in two controversial incidents. The first was the Matt Carkner-Brian Boyle “fight” during Game 2 of Ottawa-New York, the second was not calling a penalty on Raffi Torres for the Marian Hossa hit.

(Note: Walkom worked both those games with fellow referee Ian Walsh.)

— Furlatt’s claim to fame this postseason was working the contentious Game 3 between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. You know, the game that featured 24 minor penalties, six fighting majors, four 10-minute misconducts, three game misconducts and a match penalty.

(For more, read this piece in Sportsnet Magazine from Gare Joyce.)

— Devorski and Barton were the linesmen for Boston’s 4-3 overtime win in Game 6.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.