Let's talk penalties
How difficult must it be for players to deal with something like what happened in Monday's game with the Panthers? Vinny Prospal leveled Bryan Allen from behind and into the side boards in the first period. A clear penalty, and the referees, worried about the spate of illegal hits this season (the Flyers seem to be the No. 1 offenders), decided to hand out a five-minute major. Fine.
But, geez, were they kidding when they gave a five-minute major to Nick Tarnasky for a side check on Mike Van Ryn? Coach John Tortorella has ranted for more than a year that the league is trying to take too much of the physical play out of the game, and with calls like the one on Tarnasky, he might be right. At the very least it makes a player stop and think, and, being tentative during a game, as we know, is not good.
The situation made me think of a similar play in the opener, if I recall, when Paul Ranger simply shouldered an opponent to the ice while going into a corner for the puck and was called for roughing. I recall speaking to Ranger the next day, and he said it was nothing more than two players going full bore to battle for puck and position. Ranger said he and the player looked at each other as they streaked for the corner. Both braced for a collision and Ranger got the best of it. Ranger said the referee told him had the other player not been knocked down, there would not have been a call.
Amazing, and not at all consistent with other calls that are made and not made.
You may have noticed this as well in recent games: Considering the league's mandate to call almost anything when a stick comes off the ice, players who feel sticks on their bodies are starting to hold those sticks with chicken-wing moves referees sometimes see and sometimes don't.
Given the huge role special teams play nowadays, it is incumbent on the refs to not only be aware but be consistent.