It was clean out day for teams that have been eliminated. There were lots of quotes to come out of the Toronto dressing room – Auston Matthews used "embarrassing"; Zach Hyman used some variation of "sucks" a lot – but I'll leave those alone for now. They need to back up words with actions. What I do want to talk about is penalties.
The five overtimes game between Columbus and Tampa Bay was hard to watch, but not because of the hockey. Here's the thing: deciding to put the whistle away in the playoffs (and especially playoff overtime) isn't remaining neutral, it's actively levelling the playing field for one of the teams. When you allow holding, hooking, and obstruction, you're allowing the less-skilled players to increase their value to their team outside the rules. I don't know what referees miss about that. They're allowing players and teams to illegally gain an advantage they wouldn't otherwise have, and it disproportionately penalizes teams that play within the rules.
Why did we have five overtimes? Because they called two penalties after regulation. And one was a puck-over-glass. Are we to believe that two teams playing 2 ½ games get cleaner as the game wears on? Did anyone watch that game in its entire and believe only two infractions occurred in overtime, or even five? Ten?
It's tiresome. Call the penalties. Again, this isn't remaining neutral, it's picking the side of the worse teams and players and giving them a Super Mario star. Start calling the rulebook.
There will be changes to come for the Penguins. Mike Sullivan is still around but the assistant coaches, including Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar, are gone. There's no telling what will happen here.
My one gripe here is that the conversations going are now are the same conversations we had five years ago. Some people wanted one of Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang (or both) gone. Then they won two Cups. Everyone is older now, but this team had a better points percentage in the