On Thursday, the NHL announced that the officials for the Stanley Cup Finals will be Paul Devorski, Marc Joannette, Dennis Larue and Bill McCreary, while the linesmen will include Derek Amell, Steve Miller, Jean Morin and Pete Racicot. Based on the conference finals assignments, that means Dave Jackson, Dan O'Halloran, Kevin Pollock and Eric Furlatt were dropped from the rotation. Here's how the officials did in the conference finals in terms of number of penalties called (once again, excluding fighting majors):
-- The Dave Jackson and Dan O'Halloran duo were the officials in the now infamous Niklas Kronwall game, which saw the Red Wings defender get booked for a five-minute major and a game misconduct for "interference" as a result of his crushing hit on Martin Havlat. It was the second game this season that featured such a penalty when Jackson was one of the referees. Neither official is advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.
-- The most controversial game in the Eastern Conference final was Game 1, as it featured the Matt Cooke-Erik Cole incident, as well as Chad LaRose having his potential game-tying goal waived off due to an interference penalty on Cole in front of the net. The officials? Jackson and O'Halloran (not advancing). Not the best round for those two, as they were at the center of the most controversial and discussed calls.
-- Who was responsible for making the worst call in the history of sports in Game 4 of the Western Conference final? That would be Marc Joannette (moving on) and Kevin Pollock (not moving on), while that also happened to be the most penalized game in the conference finals, due in large part to the second and third period meltdown of the Blackhawks (I'm looking at you, Ben Eager).
Here's a brief look at each of the Stanley Cup final referees, and the number of penalties called in games they've been involved in this postseason:
As far as pairings are concerned, the second round featured Devorski and Larue together for four games, averaging 8.5 penalties per game, while Devorski and Joannette worked game 7 of the Anaheim vs. Detroit series dishing out 10 penalties.
As for the power play/penalty kill breakdown ...
Teams in bold are teams that played in the conference finals.
-- The two best teams in the playoffs -- and the two teams remaining -- are Nos. 1 and 2 in terms of power play differential. Conspiracy theorists will say it's because of a Gary Bettman-led agenda to get Pittsburgh and Detroit into the finals. Rational people will say it's because these are the two best puck possession teams out there right now, and puck possession, naturally, helps lead to more penalties and power plays.
-- Both teams are averaging, roughly, 3.5 penalties against per game, while the Penguins have a slight edge in the power play per game department, edging out Detroit 4.9 to 4.6.
-- Just in case you're interested, a year ago the Red Wings had 30 power plays to the Penguins' 27 in the six game series, while the officials were Paul Devorski, Marc Joannette, Dan O'Halloran and Brad Watson. Two of the four are back for this year's series.