2nd, 18:00 in: The Pens are getting away with an awful lot of near-interference calls. The way this is being called, they're letting them go, but they're really pushing it. Every dump in or pass involves a guy being held up by a Penguin while his partner goes after the puck. I don't know off the top of my head if this officiating crew will be the same one for the series, but in any case, the Pens ought to be careful.
So of course, it just makes sense that with Pittsburgh interfering on every single dump in by the Wings to try to negate the speed advantage of the Wings forwards over the Pens defensemen, that the Wings get called and give up a GWPPG on what was a very light interference call. For the record, I didn't have much of a problem with the Pens interferences on dump-ins. For the most part, it was push a guy out of his lane and make him go well around you to chase it down, and hopefully your partner grabs the puck first. It's definitely against the letter of the law, but it wasn't that bad for the most part, though there were a couple of occasions where it probably ought to have been called. The refs were being consistent on it, and that is the single thing that players want most from the refs, is consistency. I felt that these games were pretty well officiated through the first two games.
For about 170 minutes, the refs were fairly consistent in how they were going to call interference. Unfortunately, they changed it for the last 10 minutes of the game, and neglected to tell Jonathan Ericsson, who did exactly the same thing that has been allowed for 2+ games, largely on the side of Pittsburgh, and got called for it. Props to the Pit PP for doing a great job of moving the puck around on that PP and never allowing DET to get it and clear it. They were good enough to take advantage. But that was a bullshit penalty, and its unfortunate that it had to happen in what had been a pretty good game to that point. I'm not going to sit here and tell you how it ruined the game, it calls into question the validity of every Stanley Cup champion, or how the refs are part of a pro-Crosby conspiracy or whatever, because it didn't. But it was a bad call, and that was unfortunate. I felt the officiating was pretty fair for the first two games, non-calls going both ways, etc. but in this game, it certainly seemed like it was a lot less fair than previous games, and especially with that too-many-men, it was really noticable by the end of the game. Not something you want to display on your sport's biggest stage.
No one really expected a sweep here, I don't think, even with the Wings carrying a 2-0 lead in the series. I figured PIT would win one of these two at home. After scoring the third goal, the Pens did a great job or denying entry into their own zone by the Wings. If the Pens play that way all series long, they have a much better chance of winning, than if they play the way they did for the first 170 minutes of this series. Somehow, I don't believe they'll actually play that way again. And if they do, there were quite a few non-calls on Pittsburgh right at the end, that might get called over a whole game. Its on Detroit to stop making so many damn defensive turnovers (I thought we fixed this!), and to start playing Red Wings hockey again. I can't wait for G4 on Thursday, can you?