The NHL's scoring leader is speaking out against the league's time-honored officiating tradition of putting away the whistles as the games get more important.
New York Islanders captain John Tavares enters Monday's action with 70 points, but he's noticed a decrease in the amount of obstruction and other infractions being called as the regular season draws to a close.
"I really feel like games are being called a lot differently than they were earlier in the year," Tavares told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.
Tavares experienced the lenient style of officiating employed in the playoffs when the Islanders clinched a berth in 2013, so he knows better than to expect it to change. All he's asking for is consistency from game to game:
I'm not trying to blame the officials. It always seems to go that way. I've just found since the All-Star break with how tight the standings are, how big the games are and how important points are, a lot more is being let go and they're letting the players decide the game. And that's fine. I think you just want the consistency there.
Tavares was more specific in his criticism regarding faceoff infractions, which he feels are overlooked far too often. Unlike pundits such as Don Cherry, who would prefer linesmen ignore infractions and just drop the puck, Tavares wants to see a crackdown on faceoff cheaters - especially once one player has already been kicked out of the draw.
I'd like to see a few more calls on guys cheating on faceoffs. That really doesn't ever get called. You don't get kicked out anymore. You have the two opportunities and I've never seen a call being made. And there really isn't that much of an advantage when the second time around they're not going to call it. You know he's going to take advantage of that opportunity.
Tavares is scoring at a higher rate since the All-Star break despite the lack of enforcement, recording 25 points in 21 games after entering the break with 45 in 46 contests. He has five points in his last two contests and averages more than a point per game against New York's next opponent: the Toronto Maple Leafs.