Penal­ties sky­rocket dur­ing post­sea­son

Power-play goals up: ‘Dis­ci­pline is of the ut­most im­por­tance’

The Detroit News - - Nhl - BY STEPHEN WHYNO As­so­ci­ated Press

Play­ers take note: Ref­er­ees aren’t swal­low­ing their whis­tles so far in the 2018 NHL play­offs.

Penal­ties are up more than 17 per­cent over the same time a year ago and are play­ing a sub­stan­tial role in sev­eral se­ries.

Through 19 games in the first round, there have been nearly 10 penal­ties per game.

Last year, there was an av­er­age of eight penal­ties called through 20 games.

“The penal­ties that have been called in the se­ries so far is an in­di­ca­tion of how the ref­er­ees are call­ing the game,” Pitts­burgh coach Mike Sul­li­van said Mon­day.

“They’re call­ing it as they see it. I think dis­ci­pline is of the ut­most im­por­tance.”

While the Pen­guins, the twotime de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons, haven’t been per­fect in that re­gard against Philadel­phia, they haven’t been de­railed by a lack of dis­ci­pline.

Around the rest of the NHL, penal­ties and the en­su­ing pow­er­play goals are mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence: There have been 38 pow­er­play goals through Sun­day’s games com­pared with just 21 in 2017.

The NHL wants of­fi­cials to call play­offs at the same stan­dard as the reg­u­lar sea­son, which is hap­pen­ing with penal­ties ac­tu­ally go­ing up from the first pe­riod through the third.

Each of the 10 pair­ings of ref­er­ees work­ing the play­offs has at least one who has worked the Cup Fi­nal, so the hope is hav­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence helps main­tain con­sis­tency.

The Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals blew two-goal leads in back-to-back over­time losses on home ice to Colum­bus be­cause of ill-ad­vised penal­ties and go into Game 3 tonight know­ing it’s a prob­lem that needs im­me­di­ate fix­ing.

“We need to be a lit­tle smarter,” cen­ter Nick­las Back­strom said.

“We need to play with bet­ter dis­ci­pline — es­pe­cially when we have the lead twice. … It’s ob­vi­ously go­ing to hurt you in the play­offs. That’s the way it is. It’s just fact.”

Nine of the 14 reg­u­la­tion goals in the Wash­ing­ton-Colum­bus se­ries have come on the power play.

The Blue Jack­ets, who surged into the play­offs by not tak­ing a lot of penal­ties to tax one of the worst spe­cial teams units in the league, lead the play­offs in penalty min­utes per game.

Coach John Tor­torella said the Blue Jack­ets “have to cure that” be­cause it’s too dan­ger­ous to keep tak­ing so many penal­ties. His play­ers know it even if they’re un­sure of the stan­dard.

“We need to stay out of the box, but you never know what’s a call and what’s not any­more,” for­ward Cam Atkin­son said. “But that’s the game right now.”

In the West, where Win­nipeg leads Min­ne­sota, 2-1, the teams real­ize how tight things are be­ing called.

The Wild took five penal­ties in the first 31 min­utes Sun­day night and stymied the Jets’ power play in a 6-2 come­back win. The teams com­bined for 19 penal­ties — in­clud­ing some fights and mis­con­ducts — in the sec­ond game of their se­ries.

“We’ve just got to watch tak­ing penal­ties,” Min­ne­sota coach Bruce Boudreau said.

“Both teams were re­ally emo­tional at the be­gin­ning and you’ve got to worry about tak­ing penal­ties and get­ting be­hind the eight ball.”

It’s chippy be­tween the Golden Knights and Kings, too, with Ve­gas up 3-0 go­ing into Game 4 tonight in Los An­ge­les.

All three games so far have been de­cided by a goal, L.A. de­fense­man Drew Doughty was sus­pended for an il­le­gal check to the head of Wil­liam Car­rier and Kings coach John Stevens is none too happy about a missed call on Ve­gas for­ward Erik Haula for hit­ting Anze Ko­pi­tar in the face with the butt end of his stick Sun­day night .

“We get a guy sus­pended for mak­ing a hockey play, and he butt-ends one of the best play­ers in the world in the face,” Stevens said. “That’s an in­tent-to-in­jure play.”

Mon­day’s game

(At) Toronto 4, Bos­ton 2: Patrick Mar­leau scored two goals for the Maple Leafs, who trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven se­ries. Game 4 is Thurs­day in Toronto.

Aus­ton Matthews had the win­ning goal, James van Riems­dyk scored the other goal and goalie Fred­erik An­der­sen stopped 38 shots.

Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara replied for the Bru­ins, who won the first two games in Bos­ton.

Nathan Denette/As­so­ci­ated Press

Maple Leafs for­ward James van Riems­dyk, right, scores a goal on Bru­ins goal­tender Tuukka Rask dur­ing the first pe­riod on Mon­day.

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