What Stanley Cup pundits and analysts are saying about the officiating in Game 5

The referees' calls and non-calls drew some less-than-enthused commentary.

Bruins Blues Referees Stanley Cup Final NHL
Officiating in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final drew criticism. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues moved closer than the franchise has ever been before to winning the Stanley Cup after a 2-1 win over the Bruins in Game 5. Jordan Binnington kept the Bruins off the scoreboard for most of the game, making 38 saves on 39 shots, but the Blues’ win came with a certain amount of controversy alongside it.

The referees’ whistles stayed down even when the Blues inflicted high hits and took what appeared to be obvious penalties more than once Thursday.

Most notable was Blues forward Tyler Bozak’s trip from behind on Noel Acciari in the third period. David Perron scored a goal just seconds later, which ultimately was the game-winner for St. Louis.


Here’s a look at the play and reactions from analysts, reporters, and pundits around the NHL on the game’s officiating:

Tyler Bozak’s trip against Noel Acciari

Fluto Shinzawa, The Athletic: “You saw the penalty. So did I. So did everybody at the Garden save for [Kelly] Sutherland and colleague Steve Kozari.”

In the aftermath of Game 5, Shinzawa weaves a thread through the non-call on Bozak and other major miscues NHL referees have made during the playoffs. The Golden Knights were eliminated in round one when the San Jose Sharks scored four times on a major penalty that a league executive later apologized for. In round two, referees in the Bruins-Blue Jackets series missed the puck hit the out-of-play netting before Columbus scored a goal. The Blues themselves got the short end of the stick in Game 3 of the Western Conference final when officials missed a hand pass that led to a game-winning goal.

“A system overhaul is mandatory,” Shinzawa writes. “If the referees do not do more to improve their positions to get optimal views of plays that could be infractions, one official has to be placed in the press box. From there, given an unimpeded view and the same authority to make calls as on-ice colleagues, a referee could spot the ones that are obvious to everyone in the building.”


Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The headline of Thomas’s game story tops the Post-Dispatch‘s home page Friday morning. It leans heavily into the non-call and acknowledges the excitement of the Blues’ road win in Game 5. As Boston Globe Bruins reporter Matt Porter tweeted out, the photo’s caption said whether or not Acciari embellished the trip is “subject to debate.”

Jay Williams, ESPN: “That kind of looked like a flop, watching the replay over and over. [Bozak] hits him, and then it’s not until after he gets hit, it looks like a two or three-second delay, that he kind of flails back.”

The real-time replay of Bozak’s collision with Acciari shows the Bruins forward hit the ice in under a second.

Kevin Paul Dupont, The Boston GlobeDupont takes things a step further in the other direction and calls Bozak’s trip a slew-foot. He argues that if Brad Marchand, who was fined for a slew-foot in 2011 and suspended two games for another in 2015, made the same play, he would be suspended for the remainder of the series.

Here is how the NHL’s rulebook defines slew-footing:


NHL Rulebook Slew-footing definition

The definition of a slew-foot, according to the 2018-19 NHL rulebook.


Ty Anderson, 98.5 The Sports Hub: Anderson tweets that the missed call was an “absolute embarrassment” for the NHL in the immediate aftermath of the play and compares it to the Blues’ loss in Game 3 of the Western Conference final as a result of a hand pass.

Sara Civian, The AthleticCivian points out there may be an anti-Boston bias at work among those not worried about the officiating in Game 5.

Jason Gregor, Edmonton, Alberta sports radio host: Gregor tweets the referees missed a tripping penalty and that Acciari could have received an embellishment penalty in addition.

Stephen Whyno, Associated Press:

Matt Kalman, WEEI: Kalman quotes NBC Stanley Cup Final play-by-play commentator Mike Emerick‘s apparent reaction to Game 5’s officiating.

Pierre LeBrun, The Athletic:

Sam Carchidi, Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pete Blackburn, CBS Sports: