Burrows Fools Referee Jean Hebert?
Alex Burrows is an overachiever. He went undrafted out of the QMJHL and paid his dues in the ECHL before finding his way in the NHL.
For that I give him all the credit in the world. He’s found a nice home in Vancouver playing alongside two of the best players in the world and signing a nice long-term contract with the Canucks. Here’s a guy that has a couple of 20 goal seasons and a 35 goal season on his resume and you could probably make the case he’s underpaid at this stage of his career.
With that said he has some blemishes. Burrows is the poster boy for diving in the NHL. He does it all the time and most NHL referees are smart enough to catch on by now.
Except for Jean Hebert, a young referee who made his NHL debut in 2010. Hebert bit on Burrow’s antics with fewer than 20 seconds left in a beautiful hockey game played by two of the better teams in the Western Conference. Hebert nailed Blues Captain David Backes for boarding in what was a questionable call at best. Backes was surprised as anybody when the whistle blew and responded by pushing Burrows not once but twice after play was stopped. Burrows continued his act as he threw his body backwards in an effort to draw more attention.
The play was “a hockey play” as Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock called it. You had two good players battling for the puck late in the game before Burrows splattered his body against the wall. One player referred to the call as a bleeping joke.
The call changed the game.
We hear the term hockey sense all the time in terms of how it relates to players. It also should apply to referees who should know better than to make that call in a 2-2 game with 20 seconds left.
Vancouver has the league’s best power play unit and they’re too good to miss out on a 4-3 power play in overtime. They got some help when Blues D-man Roman Polak broke his stick. Forward T.J. Oshie handed him his stick before mistakenly leaving the ice. I say mistakenly only because the Blues discussed this exact scenario prior to the game in the PK meeting. It was understood that if this happens, the player without a stick should remain on the ice until he has an opportunity to get a clean change.
In defense of Oshie, hindsight is 20/20. He is relatively useless out there without a stick and the Blues bench was close to the defensive zone. I guess he could fill a passing lane but in this case it’s probably best not to have multiple people instructing Oshie from the bench.
I’ve heard some suggest Oshie should have stayed on the ice because he could have blocked the shot but it wasn’t his shot to block. If anyone was going to fill the shooting lane it was the Blues D-man.
This was certainly a time the team could have used Barret Jackman’s services who missed the game with a back injury.
Getting back to the Backes penalty, Jean Hebert’s explanation on the ice was that he caught Burrows in a vulnerable position. Burrows on the other hand is known for chirping officials throughout his career which is why I was surprised he was successful in drawing a call in that situation. He had a few exchanges with the refs in this game as well.
Considering B.J. Crombeen was whistled for diving earlier in the game you would think the officials would have been a tad bit smarter here.
I can’t put the loss on the refs. The Blues had chances including a full ice Oshie breakaway but he was unable to get a good shot off. The St. Louis power play lacked any urgency whatsoever getting up ice. Vancouver does a nice job of defending the blue line and the Blues looked unprepared in how to attack it.
There were some bright spots as Jason Arnott continues to produce offense. Here’s a perfect example of a player who has a knack for scoring goals.
I thought Ian Cole played a strong game in both ends as well. He moved the puck well with Kevin Shattenkirk and drew a penalty in the offensive end.
One thing I don’t like is the idea that the Blues should feel good about hanging in there with the “best” team in the West. I understand the Blues have had some down years but this organization shouldn’t be satisfied with just hanging in there with a good team. Personally I think it makes everyone look bad. Granted the players and Head Coach were responding to certain questions but I would have liked to hear some different answers. You would never hear players of the past being ok with losing to anybody.
More to come,