VANCOUVER — The officials have already become a major part of the story in this Stanley Cup Final, which has been far more antagonistic than what may have been expected from two clubs that seldom see each other in the regular season.
Through just four games, the teams have already combined for 229 penalty minutes, 65 penalties and 39 power-play opportunities. The last two games alone featured 46 penalties for 171 minutes, plus a four-game suspension to Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome for his late hit on Bruins forward Nathan Horton.
Referees Stephen Walkom and Dan O'Rourke have made many of those calls, working together in Games 1 and 3, and they'll be on the ice again Friday night for Game 5 at Rogers Arena.
With that pair working the series opener, Vancouver won 1-0 in a contest that featured 14 penalties and 12 power plays, with each team going 0-for-6 on the man advantage. In Game 3 in Boston, the Bruins won 8-1 in a game with 25 penalties and 12 combined power plays.
The Bruins have been called for more penalties (35 to Vancouver's 30) and more penalty minutes (123-106) in the first four games, but the Canucks are still calling for the officials to crack down on Boston even more.
"It's not tough at all, this is the way we've seen them play throughout the playoffs," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said Friday morning when asked about the difficulty of playing against Boston's physical style. "We have to trust in the referees that they're going to make the calls that they see. They're not seeing everything, that's for sure. But I think they look at tape and they see what's going on and I'm sure it's going to be taken care of."
Walkom let more go in the last round of the playoffs, as he was one of the refs for the Bruins' penalty-free Game 7 against Tampa Bay, working that night with Dan O'Halloran. Walkom also worked Game 3 of that series, which Boston won 2-0 in Tampa. He also worked Game 4 of the Montreal series (a 5-4 Bruins win in overtime) and Game 4 against Philadelphia (a 5-1 Boston win).
O'Rourke worked Game 1 of the Tampa Bay series, which the Bruins lost 5-2 at the Garden, and Game 5, which Boston won 3-1 at home. He also worked the opening games of each of the Bruins' first two series, a 2-0 home loss to Montreal and a 7-3 win at Philadelphia.
The linesmen for Game 5 will be Steve Miller and Pierre Racicot, the same duo who worked Games 1 and 3 of this series and Game 7 of the Tampa series.