Ex-Bruins Coach Believes NHL Playoff Officiating ‘Worst’ In Decades

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The Bruins and Panthers Stanley Cup playoff series has had some questionable officiating in the first five games.

Former Bruins player and coach Mike Milbury understands some calls on the ice can be missed, but said the officiating in the playoffs has been the “worst” he’s seen when he appeared on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on Thursday.

“It’s been the worst officiated playoff season I’ve seen in decades,” Milbury told the show. “Just been terrible all over the ice. They’ve missed stuff, (they’re) second-guessing themselves, and it leaves the players uncertain about what they can get away with, and it’s not a good thing. They’re gonna have to look at this as a … it’s been a failure from the officiating standpoint.”

In Game 3, Jakub Lauko was hauled down by Aaron Ekblad, forcing the Bruins forward into Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, which resulted in a Panthers power play opportunity instead of Boston. In the same game, Brad Marchand took a sucker punch from Sam Bennett that went unpenalized on the ice.

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“It was a sneaky, dirty punch,” Milbury said. “It should have been an immediate call on the ice and they missed it. You can understand why they miss it once in a while, but they shouldn’t be missing it in Toronto, where they have all night to look at it and then the following day make a decision on it.”

Without any disciplinary action on Bennett from the league, the Panthers forward found himself in the middle of more controversy in Game 4. Bennett tallied his second goal of the postseason after he cross-checked Charlie Coyle in the crease, which pushed the Bruins forward into Jeremy Swayman and took the Boston goaltender out of position.

“I feel they blew that (call) against Coyle,” Milbury said. “It wasn’t like it was a raucous cross-check, but it was enough to get him into the goaltender and enough time to give them to just tap it into an empty net. For me, that’s egregious.”

The Bruins had one call go their way when Florida coach Paul Maurice challenged Charlie McAvoy’s goal in Game 5.

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“There was some contact there,” Milbury said. “But, (Bobrovsky) was able to reset. I never thought it should have been called back. But, the way things are going, you really don’t know what they’re gonna call. It’s a situation where there’s so much uncertainty about what’s the right way to approach this (call).”

In the series, the Panthers have had 25 power-play opportunities compared to Boston’s 14 through five games. The Bruins have gone 19-for-25 on the penalty kill, allowing six Florida power-play goals in the series.

Trailing the Panthers 3-2, the Bruins need to win Game 6 on Friday night to keep their season alive. Puck drop from TD Garden is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and will air on TNT, and NESN+ will carry an hour of pre- and postgame coverage.

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