Off the Crossbar: Senators Accuse Pens of Using Deflated Pucks

After getting trounced in Game 5 of their Conference Final series, 7-0, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan and captain Sidney Crosby have been accused of using deflated pucks.

The assertion is that the Penguins deliberately overfroze pucks and gained an unfair advantage in the game, which was played on home ice at PPG Paints Arena.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Through the first four games of the Eastern Conference Final, the Penguins scored a total of six goals, winning two games and losing two. In Game 5, they erupted for a touchdown (with the extra point).

As a result, they’re now one win away from advancing to their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final.

Something’s Fishy

During a first-period rush, Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta rifled one past Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson for a 1-0 Pittsburgh lead. After the play was over, Anderson grabbed the puck and brought it over to Senators equipment manager John Forget.

“The puck just didn’t seem right,” said a stymied Anderson. “No disrespect, but come on, that was Olli Maatta who took the shot. In a month of Sundays he couldn’t get a real puck past me.”

Olli Maatta Penguins
Olli Maatta blistered one past Anderson (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Behind the bench, Forget measured the puck’s temperature and dimensions. The team then notified league officials who quickly understood there was an issue.

The official rules of the National Hockey League require pucks to be made of vulcanized rubber. Regulation pucks weigh six ounces and stand an inch high and are three inches in diameter.

A typical NHL game uses between 40 and 50 different pucks. When a puck is used for more than two minutes, a fresh one is usually swapped in. They should be kept between 14°F and 20°F (-10°C to -7°C).

League Takes a Look

After the first intermission, NHL officials inspected the entire bucket of frozen pucks. Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser weighed in, stating several of the pucks used by the Penguins were measured to be 80 degrees below Kelvin.

“They were very, very cold,” said Fraser. “As a result, there was definitely shrinkage. No doubt about it. Shrinkage.”

Kerry Fraser
Kerry Fraser (Josh Smith/THW)

No issues were found with any of the pucks used in the second and third periods. It didn’t matter, because at that point, the damage was done. The Penguins had built a commanding 4-0 lead in the first period and never looked back.

Given the crushing victory by the Penguins, there is consensus that the Senators would still have lost the game even if the pucks were proper dimensions and temperature.

After the Game

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan indicated he didn’t know anything about the pucks being different and stated the organization would cooperate fully with any investigation.

“Hey, we all know NOTHING gets called in the playoffs,” said Sullivan, knowing full well he was right but would likely be fined anyway. “Even if they find something, it’d take a few days for the refs to locate their whistles.”

Penguins captain and do-no-wrong wonderboy Sidney Crosby referred to the accusations as “ludicrous and pathetic” while denying any involvement. He continued on, “I’ll carve up a guy’s junk with my stick blade, but I’d never mess with a puck. Ever.”

Things were much different in the Senators’ press room.

“Come on. Even Olli {expletive} Maatta scored tonight,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher. “Enough said,” as he walked away, pretending to drop the microphone that was permanently stationed at the podium.

He has a point. In 55 regular season games this year, Maatta lit the lamp once. He now has two goals in his last two playoff games.

Guy Boucher, Ottawa Senators, NHL, Hockey
Guy Boucher (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

More Drama

The matter will likely be handed off to Gary Bettman and the NHL offices in New York City before moving to federal court.

Lost in the puck-gate drama was a sparkling performance by Penguins goalie Matt Murray. He made 25 saves for the Penguins for his second shutout in 24 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Oddly, after meeting with reporters, Murray noticed his game-winning jersey was not in his bag in his locker.

“I put it in my bag. I absolutely 100 percent put it in my bag,” he contended. “Someone took it.”

With all the chaos, confusion and blaring music in the locker room, it’s possible Murray misremembered what he did with his jersey.

“It’ll turn up,” deadpanned Senators’ captain Erik Karlsson. “Those things always do.”

Game 6 of the best-of-seven series will be played Tuesday night in Ottawa.

Editor’s Note: Relax. It’s satire.