Philly Sports Live

What We Learned: How bad is NHL officiating in Stanley Cup Playoffs? (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) The big complaint about these playoffs is that a lot of penalties are going uncalled, and how much that’s affecting play. Anecdotally, this is happening a lot. Guys get taken out of the play, or even slowed up, by a hook or obstruction in the neutral zone, and what should have been a 3-on-2 that might have resulted in a scoring chance all of a sudden becomes a 2-on-2 that very much doesn’t. Now, what isn’t mentioned when people complain about this stuff is that this is part of a larger trend that’s been going on for a while now. In terms of what is and is not being called, it’s become pretty obvious over the last few years that refs are putting the whistles away, to an extent never before seen in the league. We don’t have data from earlier than 1962-63 on this kind of stuff, but this year’s 3.06 power plays drawn per team per game is the lowest in that time — we’re talking 52 years — by a pretty wide margin. Only 1977-78, at 3.19 power plays each comes close. So it’s fair to say that refs are letting a lot go to begin with. And as a result, the number of power play goals scored per team per game has slowly slumped as well (the blue line below), while there has been next to no change in teams’ ability to score on power plays (the green line is league-wide power play percentage).