Power Play: Atrocious officiating or just simple mistakes?
I've seen some officiating in my day, but the finish to Thursday night's Predators/Panthers game was bar-none one of the biggest head-scratchers I've had in my time.Two simple mistakes or was it just a complete brain-fart in the final three minutes?
Spectacular saves becoming a norm for Rinne
It's a wonder that Rinne can make some of the saves he does on a nightly basis.
Against Arizona on Tuesday night, Rinne made a highlight-reel save on a Max Domi shot that appeared to cross the red line, giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. Play continued and when it was stopped and ultimately reviewed, the puck was stopped at the last moment by Rinne and his miraculous paddle.
It was another such event on Thursday, but this time against one of the NHL's greatest players and ageless wonders.
After a dangerous scramble down in front of Rinne, Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr found the puck bouncing to his stick and a wide-open net staring in his face. Jagr -- who has scored the fifth-most goals in NHL history -- lofted the puck just high enough to where it had a high probability of ending up in the back of the net, something I'm sure he's done plenty of times before.
This time, however, Rinne lifted up his stick to the right elevation, getting a piece of the shot and deflecting it to the far post behind him, where he then knocked it away to safety.
I say nearly the same thing about some of these saves as I do when I'm watching my Cleveland Browns play: "You know, you would think I couldn't be surprised anymore at how ridiculously unbelievable these saves are, but I'm continually impressed."
Calle Jarnkrok showing why he's going to be a special player for Nashville
Jarnkrok hasn't exactly been the most promising of prospects since being part of the trade that sent David Legwand to the Detroit Red Wings.
Since the first-round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks this past April, Jarnkrok has been an exponentially better player with the Predators and it's really showing with Mike Fisher unfortunately sidelined with his lower-body injury.
It's not to say that Jarnkrok hasn't looked better before the Fisher injury, but over the past handful of games he's been the recipient of plenty of top-six minutes and he's taken full advantage over the opportunity he's received.
Jarnkrok finished with 21:46 time on ice along with a fantastic 68 percent (15 for 22) from the faceoff dot against the Panthers on Thursday night.
That's one thing I've really enjoyed watching about Jarnkrok's development in the past 12 months or so. He's learned a lot from the great mentoring of defensive-zone face-off specialist Paul Gaustad. One thing that not many people get a chance to see is how often Gaustad and Jarnkrok work on their face-off form after practices.
This includes working on using the butt-end of the stick to pull the puck back after being dropped, something that I've always found oddly fascinating.
With all that being said, I continue to be pleased at the progress that Jarnkrok has made in his development. He's only 24 years old and should be a key player on Nashville's roster for a long time to come, especially with Gaustad's contract coming off the books at the end of the season.
An outright horrible finish outside of Nashville's control
It's not very often I criticize the officials for calls they make on the ice, but Thursday night against Florida turned out to be a very brutal finish by the officiating crew.
Referees Chris Lee and Kevin Pollock were part of the four-man officiating crew, along with linesmen David Brisebois and Brandon Gawryletz. Lee and Pollock both have combined for nearly 2,000 NHL games officiated while Brisebois and Gawryletz only 915. Gawryletz, interestingly enough, had only seven games of NHL officiating experience prior to Thursday night (per ScoutingTheRefs.com)
Regardless, Quinton Howden was whistled down late in the third period for tripping James Neal -- which was the correct call as Howden's stick found its way under Neal's skate and caused him to end up on the ice.
What wasn't correct, though, was Neal being given a matching minor for embellishment at the same time.
I couldn't exactly pinpoint who made the call -- I do know it wasn't Gawryletz, though -- however it was an atrocious call to say the least. Neal has grown a reputation throughout his career for embellishing, however this was just a poor call all around.
Probably a reputation call on Neal. Was for sure legitimately tripped. pic.twitter.com/5BNNoauPAT— On The Forecheck (@OnTheForecheck) December 4, 2015
But wait! There's more!
With less than a minute to go in the game, the Predators thought a pinball shot off the crossbars behind Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo had gone in -- with the entirety of the team celebrating as it did -- so the referees did exactly what you think they would do.
Wait until play stops then review the potential game-tying goal and add time back on the clock if they would've scored?
No, of course not.
The officials blew the whistle and stopped play to review it. It was even listed in the official play-by-play report on NHL.com as being a stoppage for video review.
The momentum the Predators had died at that moment and they never really had another chance to score the equalizer.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers -- Huberdeau is one of the better young forwards on Florida's roster and it continues to show night in and night out. His goal ended up being the game-winner on the night.
Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers -- Luongo just finds ways to lockdown Nashville and earn his team a win, nearly every single time he plays them. 32 saves on 33 shots Luongo as he earns the win over Rinne and the Predators.
Calle Jarnkrok, Nashville Predators -- Mentioned above, Jarnkrok had just a fantastic game against Florida even without any points on the night. His 15-for-22 faceoff win percentage helped Nashville win the faceoff battle on the night.