I'm not talking about "fixing" the outcome. I'm talking about creating a climate where a certain team has th advantage like Boston on Tampa or the Nucks that year.
Something happened from the 7th game against Tampa until the end of the SCF. The reffing changed drastically to allow rules infractions that had been called all year and in the early rounds of the playoffs. The NHL didn't "fix" the games but it did create a playing environment that was favourable to the bullying style of play the Bruins played...a style the NHL had said it was moving away from.
I don't think it's a big stretch to think they might call the east that way again, and in the west clamp down on the tough play to allow a faster, talented and smaller team like Chicago to have an advantage? Is it "fixing" the outcome...not really. Could it influence the outcome in the playoffs...absolutely. It has in the past.
There seems to be a misconception that the refs let Boston get away with everything in the 2011 Cup final. I suppose it has a lot to do with the non-calls against Marchand and Boychuk.
However, this is not the case. In fact, there were a lot of penalties called in that series and more were called against the Bruins than wer called against the Canucks. The problem was the fact that 60% of the Canucks' PP were playing injured and Tim Thomas put in a goaltending performance for the ages.
Regarding the Boston - Tampa Bay game seven, I watched that game and you're correct when you say that not much was called. However, in that particular game, the Bolts got away with a lot more than the B's. The "change" that you speak of actually helped Tampa Bay more than Boston.
Finally, regarding the whole league "conspiracy" theory, consider the 2010 playoffs when the President's trophy winning Washington Capitals faced the last seed Montreal Canadiens.
Here was the league's chance to showcase one of it's brightest stars in Alex Ovechkin, but in game seven, with the Caps down a goal, the refs wave off the tying goal because of an extremely questionable goaltender interference call.
I'm pretty sure ther US networks would have preferred to see Ovie and the Caps advance...
Orland Kurtenbach and Dennis Kearns had just been torched 8-1 by the Habs, but they still took time to come out to meet us, some fellow BC boys who were playing hockey in Montreal. THAT"S what being a Canuck is!