The gamesmanship continues in this year’s playoffs, with Anaheim Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle jumping back into the fray with his Tuesday suggestion that referees have been taking it easy on Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid.
“To me, it seems like there is somewhat of a white-glove treatment for Mr. McDavid,” Carlyle said. “The restrictions on anybody touching him seem to be a little bit higher than normal. It’s fact. Simple. We review the tape numerous times. He does draw penalties because of his speed. But if you don’t get close to him and you’re not inside of him, you’re going to watch him or you’re going to try to impede his progress.”
By Wednesday, Carlyle said that he escalated his complain to Don Van Massenhoven – the series referee supervisor. He said he provided video evidence.
Now, naturally a bit of chatter from team to team is common as rivalries emerge in the playoffs. The Ducks and Oilers are playing a tough series and each team is looking for that edge. The Oilers have the 2-1 series lead going into Wednesday night’s Game Four.
Referees Dan O’Halloran and Kevin Pollock are in charge of calling Game Four, but neither one has worked a Ducks playoff game thus far. They’ve worked a game each in the Oilers/Sharks series in the first round.
For the record, McDavid did not draw a penalty in the first round against San Jose.
Is that “white glove treatment?”
If you ask Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, the opposite is at play. McDavid and others like him get more attention, endure more clutching and grabbing.
“[They] have to play through that hooking and the holding and the mauling and all that type of stuff that goes on,” McLellan said. “They do a tremendous job with it. They entertain. They’re terrific at playing through it. Yeah, they do draw some penalties, but at the end of the day, they could probably double that total. That doesn’t happen.”
The arguments have been made on both sides and are older than the game itself, of course.
Consider the New York Rangers’ insistence that there was no ill intent when Matt Niskanen plowed through Sidney Crosby in Game Three and led to another concussion for the Penguins’ superstar. Most teams argue for their players. Most coaches argue for their players.
But is there merit in Carlyle’s claims?
McDavid has drawn a penalty in each game in the second round against Anaheim so far. That’s three more penalties than the first round.
And the Ducks have struggled on the penalty kill in the playoffs, as predicted. Anaheim is just 19 for 28 on the PK in the post-season, the worst among the remaining clubs by a fair margin.
Remember, it was Carlyle who insisted that the Oilers would start this second round series by “whining about faceoffs.” It stands to reason that this latest round of comments about his Edmonton are intended to further stir the pot. If it has any effect on Wednesday night, good for him.
But for now, it looks like the Oilers plan to play through.
“I think that’s questioning the integrity of the officiating, so I’m going to stay away from that part of it,” McLellan said. “I’m done with all that stuff. We’ve got a game to play tonight.”