The pros and cons of NHL playoff officiating

Despite occurring right in front of the referee, Brayden McNabb's punch to the face of Nick Suzuki was not called a penalty. Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me you know NHL playoff officiating is atrocious without telling me that you know NHL playoff officiating is atrocious.

"We're going to have situations where things don't go our way. We can't control what their thought process or decision-making is," said Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher, when asked his thoughts about the standard of officiating in the Stanley Cup playoffs. "I mean, everyone's been watching [the playoffs]."

A sampling of what we've watched in the 2021 postseason:

Those are some of the lowlights.

It's canon that the Stanley Cup playoffs are officiated to a different standard than the regular season, but if you feel that they've been called with fewer penalties in recent postseasons, you would be correct.

The average penalty minutes per team per game in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs is nine minutes and 18 seconds, according to Elias Sports Bureau research, which tabulated the PIMs through Tuesday night's game. That's the second-lowest PIM per team per game in any of the past 30 NHL postseasons. The lowest total? That would be the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, when teams averaged just 8:44 in penalty minutes per game.

The two least-penalized playoffs in the past 30 tournaments happened in the past two postseasons held outside a pandemic bubble.

What's going on here?