NBC's Mike Milbury was ticked that officials didn't call a cross-checking penalty on Vegas's Ryan Reaves before his goal in Game 1. “It is absolutely ludicrous," he said. " ... You have to make the call. It’s the turning point in the game. https://t.co/GVH8xujcUV— Scott Allen (@ScottSAllen) May 29, 2018
Fantastic opening game for the #nhl #StanelyCupFinals. Players were ready to put on a show. The officials were not. That group needs to be replaced. Simply can’t miss clear Reaves x-check in the numbers that leads directly to goal. Good thing that was game 1 & not 7— Frank Provenzano (@FrankProSports) May 29, 2018
If they’d have huddled on the Reaves goal, they wouldn’t have had to huddle on Wilson hit because the frustration level wouldn’t be where it is. Late hit by Wilson but between Engelland lumberjacking the whole game, Tuch elbow to Orlov head and Reaves crosscheck-goal..I get it.— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) May 29, 2018
How the officials missed the cross-check by Ryan Reaves on John Carlson in front of the Capitals' net before tying the game at 4-4 will likely be a post-Game 1 discussion point. Wow. https://t.co/IhcJ1y2N4A— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 29, 2018
In the third period alone, there was that Reaves unpenalized crosscheck that led directly to the game-winning goal...
Ryan Reaves for Conn Smythe pic.twitter.com/OvuUdBh2z0— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 29, 2018
... then Tom Wilson’s late hit on Jon Marchessault (that was penalized, but won’t be subject to any supplementary discipline)...
Another look at Wilson’s hit on Marchessault pic.twitter.com/f7CxFarqEf— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 29, 2018
... and finally, Brayden McNab slashing (unpenalized) Lars Eller’s stick in the waning moments of the game:
Each fan base has their own take on these incidents, of course, but we can probably all agree that any time the focus is on the officiating and not the hockey, it’s a bad thing for the sport and its fans.
2. Whether it was nerves, rust, or some combination of the two, the Caps had one of their worst defensive efforts in these playoffs, particularly in their own zone:
That’s a lot of high-quality opportunity in front of Braden Holtby (who wasn’t at his sharpest), and it’s hard to see the Caps making much noise in this series if they can’t clean up their play in the defensive zone, both in terms of coverage and zone exits.
3. The good news is that the Caps scored four goals on the previously impenetrable Marc-Andre Fleury, and should take some confidence from that. The bad news? The Caps blew two leads (both on the first Vegas shot after taking the lead) and may well look back on this game as a missed opportunity to jump out in the series.
But they’ve blown leads and trailed in each of the previous three series, so this one will be no different. The Caps have work to do, but have plenty to build on after one game in what looks to be a long series.