Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caps Go On Offensive - Against Refs

As a follow up to Bruce Boudreau and Alex Ovechkin displaying a dismay over the wide penalty gap in their loss in Game 3, Capitals General Manager George McPhee threw in his two cents today to Capitals Insider.

"I was disappointed with the officiating last night," McPhee said this morning. "I agree with Bruce. One team gets seven power plays and the other team gets two; it's hard to win that game. You're defense is tired, your role players are tired from killing penalties all night, and your top players don't get on the ice as much as they'd like to."

If the Penguins were a much faster team than the Capitals, it'd be a bit easier to see a gap in which Pittsburgh has been granted 17 power plays and Washington just nine, which becomes a 12 to four gap if you throw out Game 2 when both teams had five chances with the extra man.

But both teams feature a lot of speed, and while the Caps deserved several of the calls Wednesday night, they still haven't drawn the whistles to the degree Pittsburgh has even when they've been dominating the play in this series.

One whistle that particularly incensed McPhee was the call on Simeon Varlamov late in the second period for slashing Evgeni Malkin. McPhee said he had asked Terry Gregson, the supervisor of officials to protect Varlamov - who certainly has taken a lot of abuse from both the Rangers and Penguins in the playoffs.

While the Penguins were certainly the faster team last night, it wasn't the first time that refs had called just a pair of penalties against them in this series, as they enjoyed a five-to-two edge in Game 1. And, this is considering that the late penalty against Pascal Dupuis seemed to be a bit of a make-up call since Washington didn't get an extra-man advantage after Sergei Gonchar's first-period penalty expired just over halfway through the first period.

And, as even Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik noticed, thanks to the time spent a man down, the Capitals' defensemen were "really tired" after having to chase down the Penguins with nearly 11 minutes of penalty-killing duty when Malkin was able to score Pittsburgh's first power-play goal of the game on their sixth try.

Part of the vocal reaction from the Capitals following was due to complaints from the Penguins' side after Game 2, and clearly Washington thought the officials were influenced by their comments.

For a team that relies on its power play, to only get two - and a chance to really showcase their talent - while the Penguins had five more chances was tough for the Capitals to earn a victory - although Varlamov and his penalty-killing unit did a great job to keep them in the contest.

So, McPhee certainly is hoping that a bit more attention is paid on the team wearing black Friday night and to make the special-teams play a bit more even in Game 4, as with a potent team like the Penguins getting five extra chances on the man-advantage, it certainly makes a difference in a series where the games have been decided by a single goal.

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