Sens' stripes and gripes

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 4:06 PM ET

Is referee Bill McCreary out to get the Senators?

McCreary, who officiated Sunday's 5-1 Senators loss to the Carolina Hurricanes with Rob Martell, is viewed by some Senators fans as a guy who doesn't give their club a fair shake.

After McCreary and Martell called 13 penalties on the Senators Sunday and handed the Hurricanes 10 power plays to the Senators' five, the grumbling kicked up a notch.

It's been a topic on talk shows.

But does the perception live up to reality?

The Senators are now 4-3 this season in games worked by McCreary, the 52-year-old who has worked 1,499 regular-season games and another 243 in the playoffs. He is regarded -- and rightly so -- as one of the NHL's best officials. That is evident in his being selected to work last year's Stanley Cup final, which the Senators lost in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. McCreary worked Games 2 and 4 alongside Brad Watson. The other pair in the final was Paul Devorski with Dan O'Halloran.

While the Senators' winning percentage with McCreary as one of the two referees (eight out of potential 14 points; .571) is just a little lower than their winning percentage overall (87 out of a potential 146 points; .596), the ammunition for McCreary conspiracy theorists is Senators opponents have been given almost twice as many power plays in those seven games as the Senators.

According to the NHL game sheets, the Senators have had 23 power-play opportunities in games in which McCreary has worked; their opponents have had 42. That's an average of 3.29 power plays vs. six short-handed situations in those seven games.

That's a higher ratio in favour of opponents than what the Senators have faced in the games not worked by McCreary. In their other 66 games, the Senators have had an average of four power plays and faced 4.56 short-handed situations.

Read into the numbers what you want.

After Sunday's loss, Senators coach Bryan Murray pointed the finger at his own players.

"When you take 13 penalties, you're not there to play and you don't have a chance to win," he said. "There's no possible chance of winning."

Players are understandably reluctant to talk on the record about officiating. They don't want to be fined and, more importantly, don't want to be critical of a specific referee for fear of ticking a guy off.

"Do I think some referees are out to get teams? No. But I think some do have it out for individual players," said one player. "I think there are cases where players and the officials don't get along too well. They're only human."

Going into Sunday's game, the Senators were 5-0 in games worked by Martell.

The Senators are 4-0 in games worked by Devorski this season and won the only game worked by veteran Don Koharski. At the bottom of the pile, they are 1-3 in games worked by Kerry Fraser or Mike Leggo and 2-4 in games worked by Marc Joanette or Kelly Sutherland.

AROUND THE RINK

Forward Cody Bass practised with his teammates yesterday as he starts his comeback from his bout with skatebite ... Winger Chris Neil has not yet been cleared to practise with his teammates as he works to come back from a knee injury that has kept him out for 11 games. Murray said Neil could be cleared to begin practising next week ... Murray said he will decide today on the starting goalie for tomorrow's game vs. the St. Louis Blues at Scotiabank Place.

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MOST WINS

1. Mike Hasenfratz, 6-2

2. Rob Martell, 5-1

3. Paul Devorski, 4-0

4. Ian Walsh, 4-1

5. Wes McCauley, 4-2

6. Bill McCreary, 4-3

7. Chris Lee, 3-1

8. Don VanMassenhoven, 3-1

9. Justin St-Pierre, 3-1

10. Dave Jackson, 3-2

10. Brad Meier, 3-2

MOST LOSSES

1. Marc Joanette, 2-4

2. Kelly Sutherland, 2-4

3. Tim Peel, 3-4

4. Greg Kimmerley, 3-4

5. Kerry Fraser, 1-3

6. Mike Leggo, 1-3

7. Gord O'Dwyer, 2-3

8. Dan O'Rourke, 1-2

9. Kevin Pollock, 2-2

10. Dan Marouelli, 2-2


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