Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko knew he had to be careful choosing his words yesterday, but he did suggest – carefully – that the officiating could be stricter if the NHL wanted more scoring.
“I feel — this is just my opinion — if you want to add more scoring, if they call penalties more like they did in the beginning of the season, they get more scoring,” he said, as per the National Post. “Every season they start so high, and make the rules this way, and then they slow, slow, and [it’s changed] in the playoffs.”
The league denies officiating standards have changed, but Fedotenko’s opinion is shared by many.
In February, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik provided one example.
“After the (2004-05) lockout, if a guy chipped a puck by you, you couldn’t touch him,” he said. “If you did, it was a penalty every single time. You just had to turn and go get it.”
Observations like Orpik’s led many to believe the NHL stopped calling obstruction so closely in order to slow the game down and reduce injuries, specifically concussions.
“(The NHL) didn’t tell us they were going to go easy on us (defensemen),” Orpik said. “But it’s pretty obvious that it has changed.”
And that was during the regular season. Now we’re into the playoffs, where putting the whistles away is a tradition. No referee wants to be the one who makes a soft call that ends up deciding a game. An NBA official, on the other hand, calls so many fouls during the course of a game that one call is less likely to have a big impact.
However, if the NHL does want more offense, calling the game tighter would achieve that goal. If players continue to break the rules, there will be more power plays. If they obey the rules, it’ll make defending harder.