Sunday, May 31, 2009

NHL Ref Stats for Stanley Cup Final

The Referee Report: Stanley Cup Final Officials Announced

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Earlier this season we took a look at the power play/penalty kill differential for every team in the league to gain a better understanding of which team may (or may not) benefit from penalty calls during games. Some of you asked to see a similar analysis for the postseason, and because we aim to please, your wish is our command. The second round report can be found by clicking here.

On Thursday, the NHL announced that the officials for the Stanley Cup Finals will be Paul Devorski, Marc Joannette, Dennis Larue and Bill McCreary, while the linesmen will include Derek Amell, Steve Miller, Jean Morin and Pete Racicot. Based on the conference finals assignments, that means Dave Jackson, Dan O'Halloran, Kevin Pollock and Eric Furlatt were dropped from the rotation. Here's how the officials did in the conference finals in terms of number of penalties called (once again, excluding fighting majors):

The Referees
Marc Joannette/Kevin Pollock
Paul Devorski/Dennis Larue
Dave Jackson/Dan O'Halloran
Eric Furlatt/Bill McCreary

-- The Dave Jackson and Dan O'Halloran duo were the officials in the now infamousNiklas Kronwall game, which saw the Red Wings defender get booked for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for "interference" as a result of his crushing hit on Martin Havlat. It was the second game this season that featured such a penalty when Jackson was one of the referees. Neither official is advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.

-- The most controversial game in the Eastern Conference final was Game 1, as it featured the Matt Cooke-Erik Cole incident, as well as Chad LaRose having his potential game-tying goal waived off due to an interference penalty on Cole in front of the net. The officials? Jackson and O'Halloran (not advancing). Not the best round for those two, as they were at the center of the most controversial and discussed calls.

-- Who was responsible for making the worst call in the history of sports in Game 4 of the Western Conference final? That would be Marc Joannette (moving on) and Kevin Pollock (not moving on), while that also happened to be the most penalized game in the conference finals, due in large part to the second and third period meltdown of the Blackhawks (I'm looking at you, Ben Eager).

Here's a brief look at each of the Stanley Cup final referees, and the number of penalties called in games they've been involved in this postseason: 

The Referees
Marc Joannette
Dennis Larue
Bill McCreary
Paul Devorski

As far as pairings are concerned, the second round featured Devorski and Larue together for four games, averaging 8.5 penalties per game, while Devorski and Joannette worked game 7 of the Anaheim vs. Detroit series dishing out 10 penalties.

As for the power play/penalty kill breakdown ...

Teams in bold are teams that played in the conference finals.

Power Play vs. Shorthanded Comparison
TeamPower PlayShorthandedDif.
Pittsburgh Penguins
Detroit Red Wings
Boston Bruins
St. Louis Blues24
Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose Sharks
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
Philadelphia Flyers
Anaheim Ducks
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks44
Columbus Blue Jackets
Montreal Canadiens
Carolina Hurricanes
Washington Capitals

-- The two best teams in the playoffs -- and the two teams remaining -- are Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of power play differential. Conspiracy theorists will say it's because of a Gary Bettman-led agenda to get Pittsburgh and Detroit into the finals. Rational people will say it's because these are the two best puck possession teams out there right now, and puck possession, naturally, helps lead to more penalties and power plays. 

-- Both teams are averaging, roughly, 3.5 penalties against per game, while the Penguins have a slight edge in the power play per game department, edging out Detroit 4.9 to 4.6.

-- Just in case you're interested, a year ago the Red Wings had 30 power plays to the Penguins' 27 in the six game series, while the officials were Paul Devorski, Marc Joannette, Dan O'Halloran and Brad Watson. Two of the four are back for this year's series.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Capitals Strike Back on Steroid Report

Capitals Strike Back on Steroid Report

Wednesday afternoon, the NHL and the Washington Capitals issued statements in response to allegations made Tuesday night by a man arrested for possession of steroids that he had sold performance-enhancing drugs to members of the Capitals and Washington Nationals.

First, here's NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (pictured above right): "The Washington Capitals have no knowledge of any aspect of this allegation. Capitals players were subjected to no-notice testing three times in each of the past two seasons pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there was no indication of any improper conduct or wrongdoing. Even though there are no specifics provided in the story and we have no reason, at this point, to believe the allegations are true, the National Hockey League takes all matters of this nature very seriously and will conduct a prompt investigation."

And here's Washington Capitals President, Dick Patrick (above left): "We have no reason to believe there is any merit to this story, but the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals take all such allegations seriously. Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL's random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive. In addition our players have been tested at international events, such as World Championships and Olympics. We welcome and will fully cooperate with the NHL's investigation."

Meanwhile, in separate interviews, members of the team have been stepping forward to deny the allegations.

Back in Washington, Tarik El Bashir of the Washington Post got Washington's NHLPA rep, Brooks Laich, on the record to talk about the story, while also talking to ex-Caps defenseman Steve Eminger. Both denied having any knowledge that any member of the team had ever used steroids or any other performance-enhancing drug, while also stressing that the team had been subject to regular testing -- three times per year -- for some time now. The word was much the same from Capitals winger Eric Fehrwho went on the record with Corey Masisack of the Washington Times.

Duct Tape the NBA Whiners

Duct Tape the NBA Whiners

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George KarlHere is a novel idea for anyone watching, playing or coaching the rest of the NBA playoffs:

Stop complaining about the officials.

The next time Phil Jackson does it, they should make him wear duct tape across his mouth.

More than ever before, fueled by whiny players and coaches, pompous television analysts and blowhard columnists, the playoff viewing experience is being ruined by all the blather about the officiating.

Can't we just enjoy the games for what they are: great drama and tremendous entertainment, wonderful highs and lows, all provided by the most talented athletes in the world.

Why does it seem like every game ends now with the losing team and its fans blaming the officials, accusing them of favoring the winners? 

We don't want to hear it.

It was vomit time after the Lakers-Nuggets game Wednesday night when George Karlwalked to the podium, and after being asked about his team's performance, went into a rant about the officiating.

"I thought they (Lakers) got the benefit of the whistle,'' he said.

Sorry, George, but the officials didn't cost you the game. You lost to a better team. Why is that so hard for people to admit?. 

This is not picking on George, who is a really good coach, but picking on the whole atmosphere surrounding the playoffs today, which filters through the sport-viewing public and onto every playground and driveway basketball game.

The passion and emotions that make professional sports so much fun, also have driven both casual fans and hard-core purists into an officiating rage, convinced that the only reason their favorite team isn't winning is because of poor officiating.

What ever happened to winning and losing and the fine line that separates the two?

Debate the coaching decisions, the strength and weakness of the athletes, but please stop questioning the integrity of the officials.

The bottom line is that these are the best officials in the world, working the most difficult game in the world to officiate. No other game has as many split-second, bang-bang calls. If anyone can find better officials, they should send their resumes to David Stern in New York.

They make mistakes and they miss calls, just like players miss shots and make turnovers. It's part of the game. Sure, you could instant-replay every call, or have every call computer analyzed, and then the games would last seven hours like they do in football, and that would be a real joy to watch. 

Stan Van GundySo live with it, and stop whining.

Magic fans think LeBron James is getting all the calls in the Eastern Conference final because the league wants him in the NBA Finals. Cavs fans think James is being jobbed because certain officials don't like him.

Stan Van Gundy said he hates the lobbying other coaches do with officials, then he lobbies hard for Dwight Howard.

It's the same thing in the West with Kobe Bryant. Nuggets fans think he gets away with too much (on the basketball court, that is). Lakers fans don't think he gets the calls he deserves.

Fact is, superstars really don't get calls because of who they are. It just looks that way. They get calls because they are superior players. They play better and more athletically than everyone else, so they deserve those calls.

And yes, too many technical fouls are being called, but that's the way the rules today are written. Rewrite them this summer, but stop complaining now. Whatever happened to good hard playoff fouls? It's nauseating to hear every hard foul being debated as a flagrant.

And for anyone who just thinks that whining is part of the NBA game, look at the example it sets. Go to the schoolyard today and watch the kids play basketball. They can't hardly play a game without arguing anymore. It's what they see in the NBA, so it's what they do now at every level.

It's never your fault if you lose today. Just blame the officials.

Why Not Cheat? It'll Only Cost a Banner

Why Not Cheat? It'll Only Cost a Banner

"With the first pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls select Derrick Rose from the University of Memphis.'' 

That's what NBA commissioner David Stern said 11 months ago. Now, the NCAA apparently thinks that someone else took Rose's SAT college entrance exam for him, helping him to be eligible at Memphis.

"With the second pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Miami Heat select Michael Beasleyfrom Kansas State University.'' 

When Beasley went to K-State, his AAU coach was hired as an assistant there. At $420,000 a year, that coach makes more than the entire assistant staffs at most schools. Consider it payment for delivery.

"With the third pick in the 2008 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select OJ Mayo from the University of Southern California.'' 

The feds and the NCAA are looking into Mayo's relationship with USC and a street agent. An insider accused USC coach Tim Floyd of giving money earmarked for Mayo to the agent.

The news today about Memphis and Rose is seen as another knock on former Memphis coach John Calipari, who always seems to be suspected, but never convicted. He left Memphis this spring for one of the elite coaching jobs, Kentucky, and a huge payout.

How does Kentucky feel now about what it got itself into? What makes you think anything has changed? Kentucky knew what it was getting when it landed Calipari. He had a dirty rep, and he got the job. He is not, reportedly, accused of wrong-doing in this allegation, just like he wasn't when his program as UMass was busted years ago.

Now, Memphis, if found guilty, will likely have some smattering of minor penalties, fines and sanctions. And the talk is that it might even have to vacate its record 38-win 2007-08 season. Vacate its trip to the Final Four.

Vacate the Final Four? What does that mean?

The team went to the Final Four. It happened. Calipari got a better job, and more money. Memphis got its money, the NCAA got the money, CBS got the money. Rose certainly got his money. He was rookie of the year in the NBA, which got a Final Four-marketed player. And money.

But take down that banner.

Big deal.

I mean, Calipari had a Final Four vacated at UMass, too, over player Marcus Camby's connection to an agent. It never hurt him.

Kentucky knew all of that.

Here's the problem: The NCAA doesn't catch most rule-breakers. When it does, it doesn't give a meaningful punishments. So here's the dirty culture of college recruiting -- and that's not just about Calipari -- and a coach can go clean and miss out on stud recruits, or he can get dirty and feel confident he 1) won't get caught, 2) will get caught only after the stud recruit had played and his gone, or 3) will get weak sanctions.

Not to mention, the coach will already have slid to a better job off his dirty success.

Frankly, the NCAA makes things worth it to cheat.

That's exactly what Chad McEvoy has studied. He's an associate professor and coordinator of the Sport Management Program at Illinois State. He studied the major football programs that had received major NCAA penalties from 1987-2002, and found that teams in general didn't play any worse after the penalties than they did before them.

"So that begs the question,'' he said, "are the penalties penal?

"Having discussed this with the NCAA and the committee on infractions, they bring up counterpoints that to a certain degree the purpose on the penalties is not to impact negatively performance.

"But then what are they about? You can form a cost-benefit analysis, and in that way there's some incentives to cheat.''

Maybe the NCAA doesn't want to give too harsh of penalties, doesn't want risk hurting its best revenue earners.
But the NCAA needs to be serious about penalties, and not just have the rulebook for PR reasons.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Zambrano Ejected, Gets Money's Worth

Zambrano Ejected, Gets Money's Worth

Carlos Zambrano
Whether you love him or hate him -- and there's likely no middle ground since he's so polarizing -- you have to admit one thing about Carlos Zambrano: He's entertaining as all get out. Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Zambrano was ejected after a brief stare-down with the home plate umpire, Mark Carlson. After he was tossed, though, were the true fireworks. Check out the YouYube of the entire incident after the jump.

I'm sure Zambrano is going to face a suspension for the bump, but it will likely be only six games, meaning he gets pushed back for a start sometime in the future. I would assume if that happens, he'll appeal and say the umpire initiated the contact (really, both people did). Regardless, a six-game suspension is just a little extra rest for a starting pitcher. Zambrano's wallet should take a hit as well, and likely a significant one. 

Zambrano did throw a very solid game, but obviously didn't factor into the decision as he was ejected with a tie game. The Cubs did, on the strength of a Reed Johnsonhome run, win the game, 5-2. 

As far as the call, I tip my cap to Carlson. In fast motion it appeared to be an awful call, but the slow-motion replays showed that Nyjer Morgan ever-so-slightly got his fingertips on home plate before Zambrano applied the tag. It was really an illustration of how great the baseball umpires are at their jobs. The missed calls always get the press, but, for the most part, they make the correct calls on bang-bang plays. They should get more credit for calls such as this one. 

Steroids in the NHL?

Suspect in Florida Steroids Bust Implicates Capitals and Nationals


Posted May 27, 2009 1:19AM By ERIC MCERLAIN (RSS FEED)
Filed Under: Capitals, NHL Police Blotter, NHL Rumors

Late on Tuesday night in Florida, law enforcement authorities announced the arrest of a suburban Tampa couple on multiple counts of possession with intent to distribute illegal steroids. But the news that's going to reverberate around the country, and especially in the nation's capital, is that one of the suspects in the bust is crowing that he's supplied steroids to athletes across a number of professional sports, including to members of the NHL's Washington Capitals and MLB's Washington Nationals.

The story, which was just posted over at Tampa Bay Online (click here for the video from WFLA-TV in Tampa), is short on details. What we know now is that Richard Thomas and his wife, Sandra, both of Lakeland, Florida, were arrested yesterday after local authorities acted on a tip provided by the Philadelphia office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

When the pair were arrested, they were found with an estimated $200,000 worth of steroids (click here for pics of the haul). But much to the surprise of the Polk County Sheriff, rather than clam up, Thomas started bragging that he had supplied steroids to athletes all over the country. When pressed further, Thomas would only say that he had supplied steroids to members of the Capitals and Nationals, though he refused to name any individual players.

During the press conference, Sheriff Grady Judd went to pains to point out that he was simply passing on what Thomas had told him, not that he had uncovered any evidence that any member of either team had either purchased or used steroids. Said Judd, "I can tell you this, there will be a whole lot of people puckered up after the morning news."

Indeed. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jackson calls Nuggets guard ..unsportsmanlike’

Jackson calls Nuggets guard ..unsportsmanlike’


By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
May 26, 2:26 am EDT
Buzz up! 39 votes
DENVER (AP)—Lakers coach Phil Jackson accused Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones(notes) of playing “unsportsmanlike basketball” by intentionally tripping Kobe Bryant(notes) during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.

Jackson’s rip on Jones came after Los Angeles fell 120-101 to Denver to tie the series at 2. He became the second coach to call Jones dirty during the playoffs, joining Byron Scott of the Hornets, who said the same thing in the first round.

Jackson criticized Jones at the end of a rant about what he said was inconsistent officiating that resulted in Denver taking 49 free throws—14 more than the Lakers.

“There’s another situation out there tonight that was unacceptable by Dahntay Jones,” Jackson said. “Just unacceptable defense, tripping guys and playing unsportsmanlike basketball.”

Jones stuck his right foot out while Bryant was cutting to the basket for a possible rebound late in the third quarter and Bryant went sliding across the lane. There was no call, and Bryant argued with referee Bennett Salvatore.

Asked if he felt Jones went out of his way to trip Bryant, Jackson replied: “Yes. It’s not the first time it’s happened in this series.”

Bryant kept things light when asked if Jones tried to trip him.

“I just fell on my face for no reason,” he said. “I’m a klutz.”

Was Jones playing him dirty?

“Good defense,” Bryant said.

Jones, a defensive specialist who starts for the Nuggets, has been charged with hounding Bryant at the start of the first and third quarters. In Game 2, he had five fouls by the middle of the third quarter.

He said he wasn’t bothered by Jackson calling him dirty.

“Just playing hard,” Jones said. “If he can’t respect it, I’m sorry. I’m trying to be aggressive and give it all I have out there. My teammates appreciate it.”

Especially Kenyon Martin(notes), who sometimes gets accused of crossing the line.

“Hey Tay, you made it, dog,” Martin said when told about Jackson’s comments. “You’re a dirty player now. Welcome. It’s an elite club being considered one of those.”

In the first round of the playoffs, Scott was upset with the way Jones guarded Chris Paul(notes).

“I can appreciate anybody that plays hard, but when you get to the point where you’re being a little dirty, that’s the thing that kind of aggravates me,” Scott said.

The Jones-Bryant tangle was only one of Jackson’s issues after Monday’s game.

He let the refs know he was mad by refusing to quickly insert a replacement for Luke Walton(notes) after Walton fouled out with 4:05 left. Refs hit the Lakers with a delay-of-game warning, then Jackson brought in Shannon Brown(notes).

The coach was upset with a sequence during which Walton got a technical after arguing a no-call against Nene, who appeared to have elbowed Walton as he was cutting across the middle. Walton picked up four personal fouls over the next 4:25.

“The referee gave him a technical then subsequently gave him three consecutive fouls out on the floor,” Jackson said. “That kind of disparity we don’t like in ballgames. That’s not equal refereeing and those are the things that change the course of games.”

Nuggets coach George Karl complained about the whistle after Game 3, a 103-97 Lakers win. The Lakers shot 14 more free throws in that game.

The teams have combined for 160 free throws in the two games at the Pepsi Center—80 apiece.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville fined $10,000 for ripping refs

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville fined $10,000 for ripping refs


Chicago Tribune

After a tongue lashing about the officiating in Game 4 Sunday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville bit his tongue Monday.

"What happened happened and we want to move on," Quenneville said. "What I said is over and done with. After a game, sometimes you're more emotional than other games."

Quenneville called the roughing penalty at the end of the first period against Matt Walker "the worst call in the history of sports." The Red Wings scored on the ensuing power play to take a 3-0 lead en route to a 6-1 victory.

The NHL on Monday fined Quenneville $10,000 for his criticism.

Fingers crossed: The Hawks hope two days between games can help heal injuries to key players.

Quenneville said goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Martin Havlat were improving. Their skate at Tuesday's practice may determine whether they play in Wednesday's game in Detroit, when the Hawks face elimination.

"We'll see how he is, and that will give us an idea for Wednesday," Quenneville said of Khabibulin, who was replaced with Cristobal Huet and Corey Crawford.

Khabibulin left Game 3 with a lower-body injury and did not play in Game 4. Havlat left Game 3 after a hard hit knocked him unconscious and played just less than eight minutes in Game 4.

Quenneville said Havlat looked "fine" after Sunday's loss.

"We'll see how he presents [himself at Tuesday's practice]," he said.

Wings hurting too: For a second game in a row, the Red Wings will play without veteran Kris Draper, who has a groin injury. Pavel Datsyuk (bruised foot) and Nicklas Lidstrom (lower body) are considered day-to-day.

Datsyuk missed the last two games against the Blackhawks, while Lidstrom was a surprise scratch Sunday.

Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood said he felt "100 percent" better after leaving during the third period of Sunday's game to receive intravenous fluids for dehydration. He expects to play in Game 5.

Cubs' Milton Bradley Accuses Umps

Milton Bradley Accuses Umpires of Vast Anti-Milton Bradley Conspiracy

Milton Bradley

Posted May 25, 2009 1:50PM By PAT LACKEY (RSS FEED)

There are a lot of people that would tell you that Milton Bradley's constant run-ins with umpires are no accident. Bradley's hot temper and willingness to speak his mind are just a couple reasons that he's constantly in trouble with the guys in blue. Bradley would agree that his problems with authority aren't an accident, but he thinks it's for a different reason.

No, according to Milton, the reason he's always in trouble with the umps is because the umps are out to get him. He's off to a terrible start with the Cubs, hitting just .188/.310/.333 so far, and he sees vengeful umpires seeking retribution for his bump of Larry Vanover in April as a large part of the reason he's struggling. Seriously.

From today's Chicago Tribune:
"Unfortunately, I just think it's a lot of 'Oh, you did this to my colleague,' or 'We're going to get him any time we can. As soon as he gets two strikes, we're going to call whatever and see what he does. Let's try to ruin Milton Bradley.'


"What am I supposed to do?" he said. "You lead the American League in OPS (in 2008), and two years in the top three in the league in on-base percentage. All of a sudden now, I come to Chicago and I can't see the ball no more? I don't know a strike from a ball?"
Let's see, strained justification for poor performances? Check. Talking in the third person? Check. Complete ignorance of his lack of line drives and general inability to hit the ball out of the infield? Check. Well, this is certainly going to help Bradley endear himself to those mean umpires that are so clearly out to get him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Referee Report: 2nd Round Edition (NHL)

Interesting look at NHL penalties in the postseason from

Earlier this season we took a look at the power play/penalty kill differential for every team in the league to gain a better understanding of which team may (or may not) benefit from penalty calls during games. Some of you asked to see a similar analysis for the postseason, and because we aim to please, your wish is our command. The first round report can be found by clicking here.

For the rest of the story click here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ducks and Red Wings goal tender interference?

Check out the last 10 seconds of the video. Dan Cleary was practically standing on Hillers leg! GOOD GOAL?

Did Dan Cleary interfere with Hiller on the 3rd goal of game 5?
no way!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Soccer Ref Forced Into Hiding

Soccer Ref Forced Into Hiding

Posted May 08, 2009 10:58AM By MICHAEL CARDILLO (RSS FEED)

Throughout the history of team sports, spectators have probably joked about causing bodily harm to an umpire or referee. In the wake of Barcelona's last-minute Champions League semifinal victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, this sort of thinking has become no laughing matter as the match's official -- Tom Henning Ovrebo -- has been forced into hiding after receiving numerous threats.

The Norwegian denied Chelsea, what the Blues felt, were three possible penalty kicks -- the first when Dani Alves dragged down Flourent Malouda in the box in the first half and the next two on possible handballs on Barcelona players Gerard Pique and Samuel Eto'o. The second call, which would have gone against Eto'o in injury time, has already sparked numerous YouTube parodies featuring Chelsea's Michael Ballack's over the top reaction.

In fairness, Ovrebo had a night to forget and let the game get away from him in the dying minutes. The missed call on Pique was especially egregious. Yet, that's obviously no excuse for people to publish the ref's Oslo address and make threats on his life.

It's certainly got to be tough to be a Chelsea fan this week after another gut-wrenching Champions League defeat. The club is full of stars and is good enough to win the competition, but last year lost to Manchester United in the final on penalty kicks and Wednesday got knocked out in the 93rd minute in the second leg of the semifinal. Ouch.

While Chelsea's general frustration can be understood, we still live in a world where you have to abide the ref's whistle and decision. Or as my friend John puts it, "Friends, you gotta play by the rules."

Ron Artest Wanted Kobe Suspended

Ron Artest Wanted Kobe Suspended
Posted May 08, 2009 2:57PM By BRETT POLLAKOFF (RSS FEED)

The Lakers will head into Game 3 against the Rockets without the services of Derek Fisher, who was suspended for running through a screen set by throwing a forearm at Luis Scola. But Kobe Bryant will be in uniform, even though the elbow he threw was certainly deliberate, and was also enough to send Ron Artest running halfway across the court to let him know it wasn't appreciated.

Artest, as you might imagine, believes the league got it wrong, and was surprised at Stu Jackson's ruling that Bryant's play was only upgraded to a flagrant foul, penalty one. Artest believes it should have resulted in a suspension.
"I thought above the shoulders was a game (suspension), but I guess you can throw elbows above the shoulders," Artest said. "I think Stu (Jackson, the NBA vice president) needs to re-look at that. When you look at that elbow, if that was me throwing that elbow at Kobe, first of all I would have hurt Kobe way more than he hurt me. I probably would have knocked him out with the same force he used on me. Second, it's dangerous.

"That shows me, if Kobe hits me with an elbow, I can just get hit. That just goes to show what type of person Stu Jackson is. I got suspended for a lighter elbow in San Antonio (in the 2006 first round). Maybe David Stern needs to talk to Stu Jackson. It's not fair. He just got a flagrant-1?"
Yes, Ron, he just got a flagrant one. And it was the correct call.

As Matt Watson and I discussed on the RoundCast at the time, Kobe's play -- while excessive -- was not intended to injure Artest. It was meant to clear space, after Artest was leaning on Kobe's neck to prevent him from getting position just seconds before the elbow came flying. It certainly was a play that should have been called a flagrant foul at the time, but it wasn't one that warranted a suspension.

This series is shaping up to be the most physical of the (still young) postseason. There will undoubtedly be more hard fouls, technicals, and controversial plays in the games that follow. Artest might not be correct in this particular instance in calling for a Kobe Bryant suspension. But his comments can't hurt, and might simply be a way of preemptively lobbying the league to rule on his side the next time something like this goes down.

How is the NHL officiating?

NHL officiating poll

Be sure to read the comments. Wow, there are some unhappy hockey fans out there!

McPhee Is Unhappy With Officiating in Series

McPhee Is Unhappy With Officiating in Series

PITTSBURGH, May 7 -- Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee is not one to seek the spotlight. But on Thursday he did, going before cameras and microphones to voice his displeasure with the officiating in his team's second-round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Capitals lead Pittsburgh, two games to one, but the Penguins have enjoyed 17 power plays to the Capitals' nine. In Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory Wednesday, the Penguins had a 7-2 edge in power plays, and, at one point, six straight penalties were called against the Capitals, the most penalized team in the playoffs.

The Penguins scored once on the power play and took 12 of their 42 shots while enjoying the man advantage in Game 3.

"I was disappointed with the officiating last night," said McPhee, who made the comments knowing he could face a stiff fine from the league for commenting about the officials. "One team gets seven power plays and the other team gets two; it's hard to win that game. Your 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."

McPhee said he was disappointed with two calls in particular: slashing infractions assessed to goaltender Simeon Varlamov and defenseman Mike Green. McPhee also mentioned Chris Kunitz's slash to the neck of Varlamov in Game 2. No penalty was called on Kunitz, but the Penguins' forward was later fined by the league.

In the second period Wednesday, Varlamov was whistled for slashing Evgeni Malkin with his stick moments after Malkin had made contact with the goalie in his crease. No penalty was assessed to Malkin. Earlier in the period, Green was sent to the penalty box for slashing Penguins center Jordan Staal after receiving a heavy hit in the Washington zone.

"Some penalties you deserve, and some of them shouldn't be called in an NHL playoff game," McPhee said.

Washington has been assessed 57 minor penalties this postseason, 10 more than any other team entering Thursday's games. The team was also among the most penalized teams in the regular season, taking the seventh-most minor penalties.