In the fifth minute of Saturday night's opening game in the Stanley Cup finals, with Boston leading, 1-0, the Bruins' Rick Smith tackled Doug Jarvis in front of the Boston net.When referee Bob Myers raised his right arm to call the penalty, the penalty, he was virtually signaling an end to the Bruins' slim chance of winning the Cup.
Against Philadelphia in the semi-finals, blocking and tackling were key Boston weapons, whether or not the target had touched the puck. Any Flyer in a position to score could count on being hauled down, yet in the last three games of the series Boston was assessed only one penalty for holding, none for interference.
It took Montreal's power play only five seconds after Smith went off to tie the score. Later, when Smith was banished for an obvious slash. Montreal took 32 seconds to produce the eventual winning goal in a 4-1 triumph. Game two will be played here tomorrow night.
Predictably, Boston Coach Don Cherry was upset by Myers' officiating. The two power-play goals, along with Myers' failure to penalize the Canadiens' Guy Lapointe for boarding Rick Middleton, led to a bench minor penalty against Cherry for slow substitutions and a fast tongue.
Afterward, Cherry protested, "Against Philadelphia we had a great series, but you could commit murder. Now everything's a penalty. How are you supposed to know how to play? Can't Canadiens take the hitting the same as Philadelphia? Aren't they big enough?
Cherry was upset by Montreal Coach Scotty Bowman, who was quoted extensively on the subject of officiating in Saturday's Montreal Gazette.
"I hope we get good refereeing," Bowman had said. "The way our team plays, we can go through a whole game and never get a single penalty - or maybe one. But they can't play that way. If they call penalties, we'll be okay, but if they let them grab and pinch off and interfere, it's different story.
"We averaged nine minutes a game in penalties in the regular season. The Bruins averaged 15. That means that on the average, we should get three extra power plays per game."
"Scotty came right out in the paper and said we should get three more penalties than them," Cherry said, "and he called it right on the nose. They probably could have beaten us anyway, but don't make it so obvious."
Actually, Boston was assessed six penalties to Montreal's four, and one of the six was Cherry's bench minor for abuse.
Scotty Morrison, referee-in-chief of the NHL, said that Myers had no special instructions on what to look for. It is considered significant by some that Morrison selected Myers, Dave Newell and Andy Van Hellemond to work the finals, since that trio follows the rule book closer than the more experienced Bruce Hood, Wally Harris and Ron Wicks, whose philosophy is "let them play."
"The first game of a series is usually a little bit tighter, for a number of reasons," Morrison said. "It's sort of a guideline. If they want to play, then you usually ease off.