It’s easy to make a case that the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are the toughest to predict of the four major sports and also the most fun to watch. Eight seeds have won it all and it’s not uncommon for a series to go six or seven games.
As a result, when a game is in overtime and can end at any second, it puts a little extra salt in the wound when a foul against your team isn’t called and seconds later, you lose. Well, that’s what happened to the New York Islanders last night.
With the game tied at 4-4 in overtime, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Boyle secured the rebound off of a Victor Hedman miss, and easily scored to give the Lightning a 2-1 series lead.
After the 5-4 overtime loss, Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano was rightly frustrated. But he wasn’t just frustrated about the loss.
“It’s a direct shot to the head,” Capuano said referring to Brian Boyle’s hit to the head against Islanders’ defenseman Thomas Hickey shortly before the game winner. “I mean, probably going to get suspended a game. That’s what I mean. The whole game, it shouldn’t come down to that. [Referee] is standing right there. I’ve watched it numerous times now. Those are the types of hits that we’re trying to eliminate from our game.
When you watch the replay, it’s easy to see the hit Capuano is referring to. The only issue is, it wasn’t called and it’s possible the refs didn’t see it in the heat of the moment.
“The league can look at it if they want, but I’ve watched it four or five times, maybe more,” Capuano said. “It’s just frustrating it have to end in that particular way with a head shot.”
The league can look at it, but there isn’t much it can do. Over the past year, different leagues have come out to apologize to teams for missed or incorrect calls that changed the results of game.
Capuano’s counterpart for Tampa Bay, Jon Cooper, didn’t really say whether he thought the hit was illegal or not.
“I don’t have the sheet in front of me, but how many hits were in that game? Seventy? Eighty hits? I would say there were 15 harder than the one Boyle was involved in, and one that was a really hard hit,” Cooper said. “If you watched that game, to me, that was a mild hit compared to some of the banging that went on in that hockey game.
Other than the hit itself, the toughest part about the missed called is that New York now finds itself in a 2-1 hole. Sure if it was now 2-1 Islanders it would be a little bit easier to stomach. But now that New York is down a game when it was nearly up a game, it’s easy to understand why Capuano are company are so frustrated.