If the Boston Bruins are to win the franchise's seventh Stanley Cup, they'll have to do it coming from behind, and by shaking off bitter memories of one of the worst non-calls you'll ever see in a playoff game.
The St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins were tied at two games apiece in their best of seven Stanley Cup final, and it was the third period of a tight 1-0 game five.
The Bruins were trailing on a second period goal by Ryan O'Reilly, who might just take home MVP honors in the series if the Blues go on to win when Boston's Noel Acciari had his leg taken out from behind him by Tyler Bozak deep in the Boston zone.
They call it a slew foot in hockey, when one player uses his leg to take out another player's from behind, and it's a very dangerous play. The slew foot on Acciari was so egregious the Bruins forward struck the back of his head on the ice, and had to leave the game to be treated for concussion protocol.
And all of this happened in full unobstructed view of one of the referees, who did nothing. Play continued and with Acciari still down on the ice, the Blues worked the puck to David Perron, who slipped it past Tuukka Rask for a critical two goal lead. The fans in Boston, as you might imagine, did not react with stoicism when the incident was replayed on the Jumbotron and the ice was soon littered with debris along with fill throated chants of displeasure that cannot be repeated here, but while the sentiments were crude and not proper given the youngsters in attendance, they were also, given the circumstances, ramifications, and context, understandable.
The only worse non-call I've seen comes from last season's NFL playoffs when the New Orleans Saints had their superbowl chances dashed by a ref keeping his whistle in his pocket on a pass interference play so obvious even someone who'd only been explained the rules of football that morning would have made the penalty call.
Jake DeBrusk got one back for Boston on a delayed penalty call late in the third, but that should have been the tying goal, not the one that made it a one goal game and too late for the Bruins to get the equalizer and the Blues stole a 2-1 victory on the strength of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington's 38 save performance and the inability of the zebras to make the right call at the right time.
And while I'm squeezing these sour grapes may I just mention this is not the first time in these NHL playoffs that the officiating crew has failed to see or react to a penalty that changed the outcome of a game.
The Blues themselves were victims of the refs missing a hand-pass by the offense of the San Jose Sharks that led directly to an overtime winner in game three of the western conference finals. But that was early in the series and the Blues were able to rally from it and go on to win in six games. The Bruins will have to stave off elimination if they're to make a similar comeback and win in game six in St. Louis Sunday to force a deciding game seven.
When all this started I did pick the Bruins to win in seven so I'm sticking to that, but the Hockey Gods may not care at all for my prediction. I do know this: A game seven winner take all would be entirely appropriate for deciding this series fairly and without the failures of the referees casting a pall over the result.
Zdeno Chara bravely played limited minutes for Boston last night, wearing a plexi-glass shield mask to protect against the broken jaw he suffered in game four. The fans were chanting his name for his bravery before the non-call that led to the winning St. Louis goal had profanities echoing around the Garden.
It would be a shame if those fans didn't get at least one more chance this series to express their emotions for the athletic feats of the players and not the shortcomings of those meant to police the contest fairly.
In Major League Baseball the Boston Red Sox completed a sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 7-5 win. The Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit with a four-run fourth, highlighted by a two-run homer off the bat of Mookie Betts. The Red Sox had to use seven pitchers in all to nail down the win, with spot starter Ryan Weber lasting just an inning and a third and giving up two runs, but they got the job done.
The NY Yankees broke their three game losing skid with a 6-2 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto. Former Jays starter JA Happ pitched seven strong innings and was backed by home runs from Gio Urshela and Aaron Hicks.
In San Francisco Todd Frazier hot a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning to spur a rally by the NY Mets, who went on to beat the Giants 7-3. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith also homered for the Mets, going back to back in the first. Zach Wheeler started but got a no-decision for the Mets, the win going to reliever Seth Lugo.
Also, two of the best unsigned free agent pitchers in the game now have teams to play for. Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel sat out three months looking for a bigger payday than Boston was willing to offer, and he signed with the Chicago Cubs for about $2 Million more than the Sox were willing to pony up, and because it took so long for him to find a suitor, the Red Sox don't even get a compensatory draft pick in return, and Dallas Keuhcel, a key starter for the 2017 world champion Houston Astros, has inked a deal with the Atlanta Braves.
The Women's World Cup of soccer begins today with host country France taking on South Korea. The defending champion US women don't play their first match until Tuesday when they run against Thailand. Yesterday I mentioned that the woman considered to be the best female soccer player in the world, Norway's Ada Hegerberg, will not be playing for the Norwegian team, as she's boycotting the tournament to draw attention to the gross inequities between the women's and men's national teams, from playing and practicing conditions, to league promotion, and pay.
Keep in mind that even though Hegerberg has won every award imaginable, including the Ballon D'Or as the best women's FIFA player in the world, her annual salary is less than one percent of what's earned by Lionel Messi.