Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 1/4/12

John Tortorella's New York Rangers may have won the 2012 NHL Winter Classic, 3-2, over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, but the coach left the ice enraged and would later share why during his postgame press conference. By now you all are well aware that the game's officiating was the issue that nearly ran Tortorella up a wall, and later would force him to make some comments that Gary Bettman and the National Hockey League surely did not appreciate.

Being at Citizens Bank Park myself, with limited replays available, I felt it was unfair to judge what I had seen in the third period of Monday's outdoor game in my postgame article yesterday. However, upon seeing replay upon replay of the so-called "penalties" that gave the hometown Flyers endless opportunities to tie a 3-2 game, it became quite clear to me what the league's goal was here.

And it wasn't just one instance, either, as it first started with the delay of game penalty that was called on New York defenseman Ryan McDonagh, when he was clearly shoved into the net to force it off its moorings. Everyone in the stadium assumed that the call was going to go against Philadelphia, but were shocked when McDonagh was sent off the ice for delay of game, despite the fact that, again, it was blatantly obvious that he was pushed by a Flyer.

The Rangers killed that penalty off, but then had another player in the sin bin just a few minutes later. As Ryan Callahan was charging down ice for an unattended to puck that he easily would’ve buried into an empty net to finish the game off, 4-2, at the time, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen prevented Ryan from doing so by hooking the blade of his stick around the Rangers captain’s face.

Now at first I saw the official’s arm raise and assumed that Timonen would be going to the box for hooking, high-sticking or one of the many things that he could’ve been penalized for. I was right, Timonen was called, but then I immediately saw Ryan Callahan charge over to the official with a disgusted look on his face. To which I then saw Cally guided to the box, and that one I didn’t even need a replay to know that it was a horrendous call.

But Callahan being called for anything wasn’t even the strangest part of this. The penalty on Callahan was originally termed “diving”, but was later changed to “holding the stick”. There is not a person on the face of this planet that can convince me that those two penalties could even remotely be related. For lack of a better term, the officials pulled this one out of their asses to give the Flyers yet another chance to tie the game and force overtime.

When that failed, and the Rangers were still leading the game by a goal, the officials made their third and final attempt at getting the Flyers a tying goal. In a scramble with less than 20 seconds to go in regulation, there was a huge scramble in front of the Ranger net as the Flyers tried forcing the puck past Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist received some help when defenseman Ryan McDonagh slid into the crease and “swept” the puck out of danger using his glove.

The reason I put the word “swept” in parenthesis does, in fact, have significance. See, “sweeping” the puck out of the crease as a skater is not a penalty. Grabbing the puck and tossing it is, and actually warrants a penalty-shot for the opposition according to the rulebook. So, of course, the officials made something out of nothing and ruled that McDonagh closed his hand on the puck and tossed it, even though he never did such a thing. 

Now some are claiming that the officials couldn’t see the play clearly and made a judgment. My response? If your view is limited, don’t make a judgment that could potentially change the score of the game.

Anyway, a penalty shot was awarded to Flyers forward Daniel Briere, which was turned away by goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Look at that, I was able to come up with eight paragraphs worth of one-sided poor officiating in Monday’s game, and I’m usually not one to complain about the refs on this blog. Therefore, head coach John Tortorella had plenty to be aggravated with, and he wasted no time expressing his feelings with the media after the game…

“I’m not sure if NBC got together with the refs and wanted to turn this into an overtime game,” Tortorella said. “It started with a non-call on (Marian Gaborik) – Gabby’s walking and he gets pitch-forked in the stomach, and then everything starts going against us. They’re two good referees, but I thought the game was reffed horribly. So I’m not sure what happened there. Maybe they wanted to get it to an overtime. I’m not sure if they had meetings about that or what. They’re good guys, but in that third period, it was disgusting.”

Tortorella’s statements there may be disrespectful, unethical and out of line. But guess what? They are correct. I agree with every single sentence that was formed by the coach in Monday’s postgame, because for once, a coach had the sack to call the league out on antics they’ve tried to pull for years now. Call it a conspiracy or whatever you want, but the NHL was willing to sacrifice two points that the Rangers rightfully deserved just to get the game to overtime and please the millions watching on television.

I guess you forgot about one thing, Mr. Bettman: Henrik Lundqvist. 

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