Ah, the timeless art of gamesmanship.
It’s a tradition unlike any other come playoff time, and was on full display ahead of Game 4 of the Ducks-Oilers series.
It began Tuesday, when Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle said Edmonton captain Connor McDavid was getting “white glove treatment” from referees, adding that “the restrictions on anybody touching him” were higher than normal.
Today, his counterpart fired back.
“I hear that yesterday, and I was surprised,” Todd McLellan said, per TSN. “I thought we were supposed to be the team that was whining.”
That “whining” comment was a thinly-veiled shot at Carlyle who, prior to the series, said the Oilers were “going to be whining to the officials” about faceoffs. (Edmonton finished dead last in the NHL in faceoffs this season, the Ducks were No. 1.)
It’s easy to see what Carlyle is angling for with his white glove remark. In Game 1, McDavid drew a tripping penalty on Ryan Kesler, and a holding call against Jakob Silfverberg. In Game 2, he drew a hold on Josh Manson and in Game 3, an interference call on Corey Perry. Given Edmonton’s been reasonably effective with the man advantage so far — three power play goals through the first three games — it stands to reason that Carlyle wants the Ducks to take fewer penalties.
And if that involves questioning the officiating, so be it.
Of course, there might not be much substance to Carlyle’s claims. Most of the aforementioned calls were legitimate, and this comes after a regular season in which McDavid was among the league leaders in penalties drawn. It’s not like this development came out of nowhere.
But it does set the stage for a subplot worth monitoring tonight.