No wiggling your ass in front of the net

As any NHL fan who is honest with himself will admit, the Detroit Red Wings are boring. Flat, bloodless and efficiently boring. Like an automobile assembly line. Or a CTV movie.

So I probably should have cheered last night when Kelly Sutherland waved off this goal because Tomas Holmstrom was, er, interfering by standing outside the blue paint and not touching the goaltender.

Should have been the silver stake through the Stars’ heart (‘cept for Ribeiro, who doesn’t have a heart). Anyhoo, as ever in NHL hockey, there was a back story. The nullification was clearly punishment for Holmstrom’s collision with Marty Turco earlier in the sequence, which might have merited a penalty. It’s been treated today as a “blown call,” plain and simple. To me, it speaks of an ongoing underlying problem with NHL reffing—namely the “ledger” concept of officiating. Non-calls and even-ups are a hard habit to break in hockey, which is subject to quick momentum shifts and serious emotion in the crowd. During the last two regular seasons, Stephen Walkom, the director of officiating, has fought that tendency in his jihad against interference, and he deserves credit. The whole campaign requires refs to punish offending teams repeatedly until they get the message. If that means they have to kill 14 penalties a game while the other team gets off scot-free, too bad.

But judging from this incident—and the amount of uncalled interference by Philly in their series against Pittsburgh—the urge to keep things “equitable” persists in the playoffs. No big deal—for now: Philly’s losing; the Motown Automatons likely won’t drop another game to the Stars. But it’s a good example of why officiating remains a big problem for the NHL. They’re still mistaking balance for fairness.

Maybe they should name the Jays after a fish …

As for the topsy-turvy baseball standings, Maich is right (which, for those of us who know him, is a pleasant surprise). But you had to know the D-Rays and the Marlins would get better eventually. Lots of high draft picks, lots of opportunity for their young players to get prime-time experience. I remember some talk last year about how esprit de corps on the Marlins was surprisingly high. They knew they were improving—they could feel it. Anyway, it’s nice to know you can field a competitive team for $22 million.

“So Long, Cabrera.” Could make a nice Spanish song …

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