The Detroit Red Wings were jobbed, hosed, robbed, disrespected — really, pick your terms of non-endearment — when referee Brad Watson and his intent to blow an early whistle wiped out a Marian Hossa(notes) game-tying goal late in the third period at the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3. The puck’s in the net before the whistle, but Watson already ended the play in his brain. And it’s not a reviewable play in the NHL.
Premature whistles during a scrum in front of the net have been a pox on these playoffs. Worse yet have been the instances of “Intent To Blow,” in which the referee has ended the play with his mind before an ounce of lung power has entered his whistle. Like in Game 4 of the St. Louis Blues/Vancouver Canucks series, in which a Blues goal wasn’t allowed and they were later summarily dismissed from the playoffs in overtime.
Sure, as Romig said, early whistles happen and you just hope they don’t happen to your team. Doesn’t make it right; and it doesn’t change the fact that “Intent To Blow” runs counter to the NHL’s primary doctrine for its officials, which is to support and nurture offense while restricting defense.
Obstruction, the puck over the glass rule, the goalie trapezoid, no change on an icing, the leeway given to players who crash the crease … all of it encourages scoring. Which makes the hair-trigger ending of hockey plays by an eager beaver referee such an annoying anomaly. And what’s the sense of having a second referee on the ice to make the calls the first referee isn’t in a position to make if he can’t overrule “Intent To Blow” on plays like last night’s?