It's easy to criticize in the heat of playoff heartbreak.
Yes, the Boston Bruins lost to a better team in getting dispatched in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Was the officiating inconsistent? Absolutely. Is the frustration of Bruins' fans warranted? I think so.
Sometimes, it's easy to see when calls go one way and not the other. Watch any NBA playoff game involving LeBron, and watch him become melodramatic on flagrant fouls that were common fouls in the Bird-Magic-Jordan golden age of basketball, or cry to the referees every time he gets whacked in the lane, and it's a play on.
Watch Sidney Crosby slash guys in sensitive areas, and not even get thrown into the box, and Brad Marchand gets calls from the league for licking opponents.
Double-standard, anyone? It's easy to see why people outside of western Pennsylvania are rooting for the Penguins to get dispatched by the Washington Capitals, but that's another topic.
The Bruins were outplayed in this series, but some calls that went Tampa Bay's way didn't help them.
The most egregious one came in the third period of Game 4, when a questionable trip on Charlie McAvoy led to Tampa tying the game, and eventually winning it in overtime.
McAvoy is a Hockey East alum, coming from Boston University, and that call was the tick-tack call you'd see from officials with the last names Benedetto and Bunyon.
I'm not giving McAvoy excuses, because he had an up-and-down series and looked like a rookie at times against a faster Lightning team that will probably represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
Inconsistent officiating aside, the Bruins were outplayed by a better team. A small factor in my opinion was fatigue. Boston should've taken care of the Toronto Maple Leafs in five games, but were forced to Game 7 after racing out to a 3-1 lead.
You also have to look back on the regular-season finale against Florida, where all the Bruins had to do was beat the Panthers at home, and home-ice through the East playoffs was theirs.
In many ways, the future is bright for the Bruins. David Cassidy is also a bright, young head coach. The Bruins just need to get more speed. They were outskated by Tampa in much of the series, and looked flat-footed in the neutral zone, which didn't allow them to create many high-percentage opportunities.
The NHL roster is stockpiled with young talent. The Marchand-David Pastrnak-Patrice Bergeron line is the best in the NHL by far. The University of Maine knows how to develop goalies, and the Bruins have a draft pick in Orono in Jeremy Swayman. Let's hope once he reaches the big show, he learns how to come through in clutch playoff moments, something Tuukka Rask hasn't done, unlike Boston heroes named Brady, Edelman, Pierce and Ortiz.