Detroit's lament: Cleary gets "almost blinded" by his own visor, Smith's shoulder takes blindside hit

Murder! Murder! - Jeff Gross

Reactions from Detroit after their loss are just a wee bit hysterical. Is there really a ref controversy? Let's go to the video.

The Red Wings trailed after the refs protesting every call that went against them last night, so perhaps it's no surprise that their post-game reactions brought a barrelful of complaints. Cleary even went so far to declare, "Obviously the referees had a big part of the outcome.''

The Detroit Free Press picked up the cry: "Bad enough that the Wings had to deal with three separate five-on-three Kings power plays; what really irked the Wings were the non-calls on the Kings for nearly blinding Cleary and blindsiding Smith."

So, were they actually victims of ref atrocity? Or is this sour grapes?

Let's go to the video.

Complaint #1: Dan Cleary cut after Jake Muzzin hit

When I first saw Cleary bleeding on the bench and screaming in rage, I thought the refs might have missed a high stick.

It turns out that Cleary was cut by his own visor during a very routine-looking check. Judge for yourself:

The Detroit articles keep emphasizing that Cleary was cut, as if that was evidence enough.

"Fifteen stitches right to the orbital bone," Cleary said. "Probably should have been called."

I suppose if you keep crying "Fifteen stitches!" you don't actually have to explain what you think was wrong with Muzzin's hit. Maybe they wanted a call for boarding, but after watching the hit several times, that seems like a stretch. The visor cut wasn't brought on by reckless play or excessive violence.

Verdict: Clean hit, unfortunate outcome. Cleary needs a better argument than "I'm bleeding. I deserve a power play for my blood." Take it out on your helmet.

Or, to put it in a haiku:

Sorry you got cut,

But hockey's a contact sport.

Tighten your chinstrap?

Complaint #2: Dustin Penner's hit on Brendan Smith

Ansar Khan joins the Free Press in deeming this hit "blindside," as if it were a dangerous hit to the head -- but Penner isn't about to get a call from Shanny. Video shows him making contact with Smith's arm and shoulder first.

Verdict: The refs certainly could have called Penner for interference there, but "blindside hit" talk is overblown. The initial contact was shoulder to shoulder. Smith's prior shoulder injury might not have fully healed; otherwise, I don't know why he crumpled to the ice like that.

Smith also returned to play soon after, despite being helped off by two people.

At most, the Kings got away with a 2 minute call for interference. This was far less dramatic than it looked.

Complaint #3: Datsyuk penalized for touching the puck on a faceoff

I can't find a separate clip of this, but this happened at 9:40 of the third.

The faceoff violation is causing a lot of confusion because it's a new rule this season.

Rule 76.4 states:

Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck with their hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shall result in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as a "Minor Penalty for Delay of Game - Face-off Violation." Once the face-off is deemed complete (and winner of the face-off is clear), hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.

The intent of the rule is that it's supposed to prevent a player from "gaining an unfair advantage on pucks that were on the ice following the drop." In other words, you can't bat it back to a teammate.

Verdict: I'm not a fan of the new faceoff rule, but it is on the books. In this article, Datsyuk admits that he swiped at it.

Missed calls happen to every team

No matter where you stand on all three referee decisions above, the Red Wings seem to overlook the fact that sometimes, stuff happens. The refs don't catch everything.

Like, say, Datsyuk being offsides for his first goal against the Kings. This missed call just happened to be pivotal in Detroit's 3-2 win.

I sure hate it when refs' mistakes impact a game!

Why didn't reporters from Detroit pick up on that huge gaffe last time out? I didn't see it in their game recaps. Maybe they didn't even know it happened, because the Kings didn't wail about it afterward.

I think it's time for Detroit to drop the hyperbole and suck it up.

There's even a bright side. Dan Cleary still miraculously has his vision intact.

What's your verdict?

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