NBC drew a 4.0 overnight rating for the Blues' win over the Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night, down 20% from a 5.0 for the Capitals' Cup-clinching win over the Golden Knights in Game 5 last year. The number last year was an all-time record for NBC for a Game 5. While down from '18, Thursday's rating is up 29% from '17, when Penguins-Predators Game 5 drew a 3.1 overnight. Thursday's game is the second-best Game 5 for NBC since '14 and projects to win the night for NBC. St. Louis drew a 30.1 rating locally, making it the highest-rated Blues game on an NBC network ever in that market. Boston (25.3), Providence (21.2), Buffalo (10.1) and Pittsburgh (6.0) rounded out the top five (Josh Carpenter, THE DAILY).
OFFICIATING AGAIN IN SPOTLIGHT: In Boston, Steve Conroy notes Game 5 was the "latest installment" of the NHL's "two-month nightmare as the game officials had a hand yet again in deciding a playoff game." Midway through the third period, Blues C Tyler Bozak appeared to trip Bruins C Noel Acciari, and with Acciari still on the ice, Blues RW David Perron scored what "turned out to be the game-winning-goal." Bruins President Cam Neely was "caught on camera whipping a water bottle at the wall in his private box on the ninth floor, and fans started showering the ice surface with various items" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/7). SPORTSNET.ca's Luke Fox wrote the Bruins are the latest team to "get screwed by an egregious officiating gaffe in a pivotal moment" of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/6).
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME: THE ATHLETIC's Fluto Shinzawa writes the NHL is "back in the stuff where it usually lands." The league is "smack dab in crap, its wheels unable to gain purchase with every spin." The referees have "blown it at every turn this postseason," and it "just so happens that the latest blunder took place in the Stanley Cup final, of all places, and resulted in a game-winning goal." These are "not one-off gaffes," and this is a "pattern of mistakes that could cost businesses millions." The game is "only getting faster while the referees fall behind," and a "system overhaul is mandatory." Otherwise, the NHL "has to invest in sharper referees" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/7).
AT A CROSSROADS: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell notes the NHL "does not allow its on-ice officials to comment on calls or non-calls," but it is "more than happy to comment on, and apologize for, blown calls that are actually made," as it did in the first round's Sharks-Golden Knights series. Campbell: "That is so, so NHL." This is a league that is "obsessed with its officials not determining the outcome of games, so much so that its directions to them actually do determine the outcomes of games, and in this case might actually be major factor in deciding who wins the Stanley Cup." The league "finds itself at a crossroads and faces a major decision here." The referees "certainly deserve their share of the blame, but so does a hockey operations department that is filled with former players ... who direct them to look the other way on calls they believe are marginal and protects and enables them by not making them accountable for the calls they make" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 6/7).