Campbell Admits Holmstrom is a Marked Man

The Vancouver Sun (found via George Malik) has a quote from NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell where Campbell admits that refs have been instructed to watch Tomas Holmstrom closely.

“Babcock said we were watching for it. Listen, we’d be fools if we didn’t meet before games to talk about Holmstrom. He crowds the crease. You don’t have to be Sam flippin’ Pollock to figure that out,” the NHL’s senior VP of hockey operations, Colin Campbell, said in a telephone interview with The Vancouver Sun.

The Sun didn’t push further, choosing to focus on the need for video review in plays like the one we saw Wednesday.

He’s my question for Campbell: Who else is marked? Is Ryan Smyth watched just like Holmstrom? Are the officials on the lookout for slashes by Marty Turco or elbows from Chris Pronger or holds by Steve Ott?

Yes, Holmstrom crowds the crease. But when Pronger plays a highly-physical game it’s praised and referred to as playing on the edge. Holmstrom plays on a different edge but it doesn’t mean he should be treated any less leniently.

On Make-up Calls

Yesterday I posted a bit to YahooGroup “redwing” and thought I’d expand on the idea here.

So the general consensous is that the disallowed Detroit goal in Game Four was a make-up call for when goalie interference probably should have been called on Tomas Holmstrom on Detroit’s third goal in Game One. Here’s where it gets messy…

The refs in Game One were Kevin Pollock and Bill McCreary. Neither of them were refs Wednesday night, which means that in order for it to be a make-up call then Kelly Sutherland would have either had to have decided to take it upon himself to make up for another ref’s mistake or he was ordered to by someone else.

This, to me, is absolutely unacceptable. I can understand a make-up call if it’s made by the same ref, in the same game, within a few minutes of the original call. Not the case here.

The problem is that the NHL always backs the refs. After Game One, no one in the league offices said that there was a problem with Detroit’s third goal. Now, after Game Four, Gary Bettman himself says that Sutherland made the right call.

You can’t have it both ways. One was right or one was wrong.

It’s because the NHL doesn’t admit that there are bad calls that makes it so you “have” to have make-up calls. There’s this ridiculous need to “fix” what happened.

Instead of calling make-up calls, start calling out officials. Acknowledge that they’re not perfect but that they work to be better. When an official makes a mistake, suspend them. Make this information public knowledge so that fans know the league is working to get better.

While this doesn’t fix the mistake that happens, it’s not all that different from suspending Jamie McLennan for slashing Johan Franzen when there was no chance the Red Wings were going to see McLennan again anyway.

We know the refs aren’t perfect but it’s ridiculous for the league to say that they are.

The Butterfly Effect

The next day and I still don’t know what to say. I haven’t done a recap ’cause I don’t even want to have to write it. I haven’t done a blog ’cause all I want to write is a stream of profanity.

I’m a big fan of alternate history. Seeing how the butterfly effect might have changed things. Looking at this game, the Wings didn’t play well. I have to think, though, that Detroit taking a 1-0 lead would have taken away all of Dallas’ momentum.

It’s not simply a 3-1 game becoming 3-2. Everything from the point of that goal would have changed. Maybe the Stars feel more pressure and push too hard, taking stupid penalties that they didn’t take in the game we saw.

It’s a change in mindset. Instead of Dallas thinking “Whew, we just dodged one.” it would have been “Damn, what do we have to do to stop these guys?” Doubt creeps in.

But we didn’t see that. Call it a make-up call, a reputation call, whatever. Because of it, we were robbed of seeing what the game should have been. It might not have changed the outcome but it would have changed the game.

Game Four Random Babbling

The Red Wings look for their second sweep in as many rounds as they take on the Stars tonight. It’s been ten years since Detroit last lost a playoff game in which they could eliminate their opponents but that was also in the Western Conference Finals, also against Dallas.

Chris Osgood was the goalie then but he’s not the same as he once was. In 1998, Osgood still gave up long goals and could be shaken. Today’s Osgood is one of the most mentally-tough players in the game. Nothing fazes him. Not goals against, not big saves. He’s just in a zone that makes him tough to beat.

He’s been able to do it before (see his reaction to my favorite save of all-time) but never this consistantly.

And that doesn’t even speak to his level of play. He’s better positionally than he’s ever been, getting to where he needs to be and not wasting energy. A bit like how Nicklas Lidstrom plays defense.

So while I like patterns and history and all that, I can’t say that the Wings’ loss in Game Five in 1998 will have anything to do with tonight’s game. Just an interesting stat.

Tonight the Red Wings will be without Johan Franzen, still out with unexplained headaches. The Stars continue to miss Jere Lehtinen, Stu Barnes and Philippe Boucher. Mike Modano and Brendan Morrow didn’t practice yesterday but are expected to go today, both having missed time in Game Three.