1. Situational or circumstantial officiating! What better way to ensure that a lopsided or slightly out of reach game becomes a nail biter? Referees and umpires have been implementing this strategy for years and I speculate that the order comes from league higher-ups. The NBA has perfected it to a degree where the home teams coincidentally win 80% of the time. Twice the number of free throws for one team undoubtedly will have an impact on the overall score. Fans love going to games where they are almost assured that their guys will emerge victorious. The league wins, the fans win, and television networks win. Its brilliant planning. Moreover, just imagine FAUX offsides or face mask penalties in the NFL.
2. The NHL's model has been modified several times in recent years. Examples include whistles being eaten in the third period, annoying even-up calls, increased 5 on 3s, and phantom "behind the play" infractions. Well, here's my new take on the pitiful state of referees consciously attempting to manipulate outcomes. Be mindful, that I have no scientific data or empirical studies backing me up here, its just a trend that seems obvious lately.
3. I will use the Buffalo-Ranger game the other evening as my example. The speedy Sabres dominated on the scoreboard in both shots on goal and scoring. Those who watched the game noticed a strong effort by the Sabres, particularly in 5 on 5 situations. However, when checking the power play ledger, I found that the Rangers enjoyed two additional manpower advantages. While I don't mean to single this game out, I have seen this absurd circumstance occur more and more. There's no logic to this, other than to keep the games close.
4. I look forward to your feedback - agree or disagree with the intent, but keep an eye on the stats. ANTZ signing off!!!