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Obstruction calls on everyone's mind

by Lindsey Ungar / Detroit Red Wings
PITTSBURGH — Early in the Stanley Cup finals, Penguins coach Michel Therrien caught attention for ripping on the officiating, specifically the lack of obstruction calls on the Red Wings — even when he wasn’t asked about it.

But Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked about the referees on Tuesday.

Was it his turn now, after Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary were called for suspect goaltender interference penalties in overtime in Game 5?

“What do you say? If you were me sitting here, tell me, what would you say?” Babcock asked.

The reporter said no one cared what he though. And the reporter had good company, according to Babcock.

“I think it's pretty evident they don't care what I think, either,” he said.

Exit Therrien, enter Babcock.

“I'll jump on the soapbox,” Babcock said. “We talk about scoring more goals in the National Hockey League. We want more goals. No they don't; don't tell me that. I've never seen anything like that in my whole life. …

“I'm going to try what the other guy has been trying all series.”

Babcock’s jump into the criticism spotlight left that “other guy” with some free time on Wednesday morning.

“I'm trying to walk around, introduce myself. I'm the other guy, I guess,” Therrien said with a smile. “The complaining — there's two different things. Mike's complaining about calls. And we've complained about the non calls. So that's two different things.”

Complaining aside, both calls on Zetterberg and Cleary appeared simply to be players driving hard to the front of Pens goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s crease — like they’re supposed to every game.

“I thought it was a real bad call,” Cleary said of his penalty. “I don’t know what else you want me to do in that situation. I thought he dove for sure; he was outside his paint. I was just going to the net, really. I tried to get out of his way. In overtime like that, it was a weak call.”

Both players acknowledged that referees make mistakes — even though referee Dan O'Halloran has taken a particular interest in Detroit’s crease crashing since the Dallas series.

“He’s a good referee, but he’s human, too,” Cleary said of O'Halloran. “He’s making his judgment call, what can you do?

“Those penalty kills or power plays could be the difference. Fortunately it wasn’t the difference, but you never know.”

Although Petr Sykora’s triple overtime game-winner came on the power play, no one argued the high-sticking double major on Jiri Hudler. That was clear-cut. But the goaltender interference calls continue to linger in a gray area, regardless of conversations Babcock has had with the league during the playoffs.

Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, who has been accused by opponents for diving in similar situations during the postseason, said it’s an issue that needs to be addressed — sooner than later.

“When you're taking a shot on the goalie, you're pushed in, you have a lot of speed, it's hard to stop,” Osgood said. “You can't stop on a dime. And when you're driving the net, you get a shot on the net, and you brush the goalie, I don't think it's a penalty, especially at that particular time of the game.”
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