NHL officials letting guys play down the stretch

With only 17 games left, everyone is gearing up for the playoffs. That goes for the referees, too.

Sunday night against Washington marked only the second time this season the Flyers held their opponent to no power plays. The Flyers say they’ve been working on discipline all season, but part of the reason they aren’t going to the penalty box is because referees call fewer penalties at the end of the year. That’s mainly in anticipation of the playoffs, when a lot of infractions go uncalled.

“I think the last two games the referees have been trying to let us play,” Max Talbot said. “You feel like the playoffs are coming around the corner. I speak for myself, I don’t mind it. As long as it is fair for both sides and they are going to let some things go, but at the same time it’s hockey.”

In the last four games, the Flyers have only committed seven minor penalties and opposing teams haven’t gotten a power play goal against them since Feb. 25. But the calls go both ways. The Flyers have had only six man-advantages in the four-game stretch.

“There’s not many power plays,” said Jaromir Jagr. “And there’s a lot more hooks. I feel it myself; I’m losing the puck I got hooked. Maybe the first five games, 10 games they would go [to the penalty box], but not anymore. It happens to both teams.”

The advantage for the Flyers comes in part because their penalty kill has been in the bottom third of the league for most of the season and they lead the league in penalty minutes. Fewer penalties gives more ice time to Zac Rinaldo, who leads in penalty minutes.

“They’re allowing little things that they didn’t at the beginning of the season,” Rinaldo said. “That works to our advantage. Can’t complain about it.”

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