San Jose Sharks’ Bob Boughner livid about faceoff violation penalty: “Absolutely ridiculous”

San Jose Sharks coach Bob Boughner couldn’t hide his disgust with the faceoff violation that his team was charged with Saturday in the third period of their game with the St. Louis Blues.

Neither could his players.

Patrick Marleau was called for a faceoff violation at the 4:10 mark of the third period of Saturday’s Sharks-Blues game at SAP Center. He had just replaced Tomas Hertl, who was waved out of the faceoff circle by linesman Trent Knorr as he took the draw against Blues forward Brayden Schenn.

Shortly after, after Marleau put his stick down and Knorr motioned that a violation had occured, and the Sharks found themselves shorthanded at a critical moment of the game.

The Blues took advantage just 12 seconds later. Ryan O’Reilly’s power-play goal at the 4:22 mark proved to the winner as the Sharks were saddled with a 5-2 loss, their fourth straight defeat.

“Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous,” Boughner said. “I think everybody in the rink — their team, our team, the other linesman, the refs — I think everybody was shocked. It was a brutal, brutal call that in my mind cost us.  It turned the whole game around and took the game out of our hands a little bit there, and we’re playing catch up and trying to cheat.

“It’s just, it’s ridiculous. I haven’t seen that call in I don’t know how long. I know this year I haven’t seen that call throughout the whole league. That one hurts.”

Part of 76.6 in the NHL rule book states the following: “If a center should move prematurely prior to the face-off,
or if the Referee or Linesman shall have dropped the puck unfairly, the face-off shall be considered a face-off violation and it must be conducted again.

“When at least two face-off violations have been committed by the same team during the same faceoff, this team shall be penalized with a bench minor penalty to the offending team. This penalty shall be announced as a “Bench Minor Penalty for Delay of Game – Face-off Violation.”

Marleau had taken 14,270 faceoffs in his 23-year NHL career before that draw, and said he’s never been given that penalty. Although it is not a new rule, it is one that is rarely called or enforced.

“I saw it one way, and I guess the linesman saw it another,” Marleau said. “I thought it was a good, clean draw and obviously he saw it different. It changed the game.”

Marleau said he was shocked by the call.

“I thought it was just a good clean draw,” he said. “Seeing the replay, I still think that way. Their players’ stick was on my side of the dot before the puck was dropped. It is what it is.”

In the early part of the 2017-18 season, NHL officials were making the call on a more frequent basis to try and crack down on what the league felt was an excessive amount of cheating in the faceoff circle. Since then, it’s only been called sparingly.

Certainly, Boughner had never seen it called so far this season.

“There was really no explanation for it, it’s just a horrible call,” Boughner said. “I don’t know, I guess he spun too early or something? I don’t know. I’ve watched it three times, it’s completely fine.

“It’s Patty Marleau, by the way. The guy’s going to break Gordie Howe’s record and he threw him in the box and it affected the whole game. It’s like, use your head.”

The Sharks entered the two-game series with St. Louis eight points back of the Blues for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. San Jose lost Friday’s game 2-1 in a shootout, and is niow 11 points back with just 27 games left to play.

Devan Dubnyk saw the situation unfold from nearly 200 feet away, but still couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“It’s embarrassing,” Dubnyk said. “We’re playing a game that we consider a playoff game and it’s 2-2 in the middle of the third period. A penalty called that I don’t think I’ve ever seen called, except for maybe the first year of exhibition season when they first made the rule.

“It’s embarrassing. It’s mickey mouse. I don’t care if you want to say, ‘’follow the rulebook.’ It’s completely ridiculous to make a call like that in 2-2 hockey game in the third period in the middle of the season. I don’t know what else to say it’s, it’s incredible.”

The Sharks won 32 of 54 faceoffs for the game. Marleau started the game on a line with Antti Suomela and Fredrik Handemark, but finished on a line with Hertl and Timo Meier.

“Yeah, I think they were cheating pretty good on the face-offs tonight,” O’Reilly said. “It happens. The second one, it’s something that’s happened and I’ve been on the other end of it. It’s annoying, but it is the rule and I think we took advantage of the bounce.

“Obviously it’s a fortunate thing for us to get a power-play like that, but yeah, we can’t control it. We have to go out and be ready to just deal with it and we did. We got a big goal and take over the game from there.”

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