Officials once again show off sheer incompetence in Buffalo Sabres loss to Canucks

The Buffalo Sabres have landed on the wrong side of awful officiating several times this season, but the worst version yet came on Saturday vs. the Canucks.
Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson (6) and Vancouver
Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Erik Johnson (6) and Vancouver / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres have fallen victim to some of the worst officiating in the 2023-24 NHL season. You may recall Eric Robinson’s game misconduct for boarding in which he seemingly put a blindside hit on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron. The hit stunned, but did not injure Barron, and while it was necessary to call a penalty, a misconduct was way too much for such a routine play.

When Ryan Johnson was slammed into the boards against the New York Rangers, Erik Johnson stepped in and addressed the hit. It resulted in what was initially an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, something that never should have been called in the first place, before officials hit him with a 10-minute misconduct along with Jeff Skinner - and the misconduct, if you remember correctly, stemmed not just from what had just taken place on the ice, but for Johnson contesting a no-call in an earlier period.

But neither of the aforementioned incidents even came close to the sheer incompetence that unfolded on Saturday night when J.T. Miller rammed Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin in the head. The hit, which injured and took Dahlin out of the game between the 4:02 and 15:33 marks of the second period, drew only a two-minute elbowing because Miller supposedly hit Dahlin’s arm before making contact with his head. 

Buffalo Sabres once again fall victim to awful officiating in loss

However, everyone who tuned in or braved the trip to the game last night saw Miller go high with the hit. It wasn’t much different than a hit that Connor Clifton landed earlier in the season against the New Jersey Devils, and yep, he was ejected from the contest in case you needed a reminder. 

Miller’s dirty hit on Dahlin was yet another in a long list of ill-fated officiating calls against the Buffalo Sabres. And if they’re going to tack on misconducts for arguing calls or for boarding penalties that did not keep the player on the receiving end of them out of the game for an extended period - unlike Dahlin who was gone for 11 minutes, why wouldn’t you give J.T. Miller the same treatment?

Whatever the case may be, it’s becoming clearer that the NHL has a real officiating problem, and the hit on Dahlin wasn’t the only no-call of the night. Filip Hronek also landed a high hit on Mattias Samuelsson, and the rugged blueliner missed the rest of the contest as a result, but the officials refused to make a call. Shame on the NHL for letting not just this inconsistency, but sheer incompetence, occur with who are supposed to be world-class officials - case in point, they are not.

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