Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was frank in his assessment of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, calling the officiating “egregious” and a “black eye” on the NHL following the controversial ending to Thursday’s contest, which the Blues won 2-1 to take a 3-2 series lead.
Cassidy began by expressing his belief that Blues head coach Craig Berube (the “opposition”) changed the “narrative” of the series following Berube’s own complaints about officiating following Game 3.
As a reminder, Cassidy himself commented on Berube’s complaints before Game 5, and ended up seeming like a soothsayer in the process:
As you can see from the press conference footage above this post’s headline, Cassidy went on to make those comments about “egregious” officiating after opening with comments about the best officials getting to call the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins head coach said that Tyler Bozak was essentially heading to the penalty box after the perceived infraction on Noel Acciari, yet no call was made. Here’s that controversial moment once again, for context:
Acciari called the non-call “embarrassing.”
As far as moving on goes, Acciari admitted it is a “tough pill to swallow,” but didn’t comment on whether Berube’s critiques earlier in the series ended up affecting the officiating, overall. Torey Krug, however, did say that Berube’s comments changed things, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty.
NHL senior vice president and director of officiating Stephen Walkom addressed the controversy with this quick statement, via a PHWA pool reporter:
“We don’t make comments on judgment calls within games. There are hundreds of judgment calls in every game. The official on the play, he viewed it, and he didn’t view it as a penalty at the time.”
While that comes across as a little dry, the most interesting phrasing is that the official “viewed it, and he didn’t view it as a penalty at the time.” There’s no claim of all four on-ice officials missing the could-be penalty entirely. This is as about as much as you’ll get from the league’s officials (and those overseeing them) right after a game, as they don’t do press conferences.
If you’re wondering if the officials didn’t want to seem like they were playing favorites, consider that the Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 5, while the Blues couldn’t connect on their only chance. That moment also came fairly late in the third period, and the perception is that officials are that much more reluctant to call penalties that deep into playoff games.
[More: Missed opportunities sink Bruins in Game 5]
All of that context merely fuels speculation, though, as we only get “he viewed it, and he didn’t view it as a penalty at the time” as feedback from an authority on the subject.
To little surprise, the Blues didn’t have a ton to say about the controversy after winning Game 5.
Whether the Bruins let this linger or take this setback in stride, the bottom line is that they’re on the brink of elimination as the scene shifts back to St. Louis. Boston will need to win two games in a row, while the Blues are one victory away from their first-ever Stanley Cup. Chances are, the Blues won’t see their party ruined by worries about getting a call or two go their way.
Game 6 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final airs at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday (NBC; stream here).
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.