Referees cause confusion after disallowed goal

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I’m not here to say that a disallowed goal was the ultimate doom for
the Flyers, but there’s no doubt it was the turning point in the game.
Simon Gagne’s goal would have put the Flyers ahead 2-1, in a game they
were playing fairly well in and one they desperately needed to stop
sliding down the Eastern Conference standings. Instead, the officials
made perhaps the worst goal-reversal calls I’ve ever seen and the Flyers
lost 4-1.

To set the table for this debate: The Flyers skated
into the zone on a three-on-two, and looked to have a goal when Simon
Gagne slid a rebound past a sprawling Marc-Andre Fleury, who had come
well out of his crease to make the save on the initial shot. Fleury had
been knocked over by Ville Leino on the play, and referee Dan Marouelli
immediately called it a good goal, with no hesitation. There was also no
penalty called on the play.

Then, after a lengthy discussion
Marouelli made this call: “The goal has been disallowed due to
incidental contact with the goaltender. No penalty, no goal.”

Umm,
what?

We break down this travesty of officiating after the jump.

To
start with, here’s the excerpt from the NHL rule book on goaltender
interference. Rule 69.1:

Goals
should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by
his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move
freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player
initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or
outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper
will
be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is
initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has
made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

The
play is not reviewable, per the rule. It is left completely up to the
officials on the ice.

First off, it’s more than obvious that
contact is made outside of the crease. See below:

NoGoal1.jpg

So contact is
made outside of the crease, so the first part of the rule does not
apply. What about the intentional part of the rule? Was Ville Leino’s
contact intentional or deliberate?

NoGoal2.jpg

Above, you can see how Leino is
putting on the brakes as he overskates the puck. You can see the puck
at his feet, and how he’s turning his head to look at MAF.

From a
different angle (below), you can see that Leino has not been able to stop and
sees he’s about to collide with Fleury. Is this intentional? Tough to
say.

NoGoal3.jpg

But it doesn’t matter, because according to the referees the
contact was incidental.

“The goal has been disallowed due to
incidental contact with the
goaltender. No penalty, no goal.”

So if the contact was
incidental, and outside of the crease, the goal should be allowed
according to NHL rules. Simon Gagne is even more confused, especially after
talking with Marouelli after the play:

“At first,
he called it a goal. After reviewing the play on the
scorebard he changed his mind that we had somebody on their goalie.
That’s the first time I’ve seen that,” said Gagne.

“I asked him, ‘are you allowed to look at the scoreboard?’ He said I
would be happy if the same thing happened to us.”

If
this is true, if Marouelli looked at the scoreboard to overturn a call
he previously made, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the play not
being open for video review? And if the contact was deemed to be such
that a goal should be disallowed, shouldn’t a penalty have been called. If he’s confused about the ruling on the play, he can always call Toronto to get clarification on how such a play should be called.

You
can’t take a goal away for incidental contact outside of the crease.
There’s just nothing in the rules that call for it.

After ‘rough year,’ Kronwall seeking options for ailing knee

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) is tripped up by Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall (55), of Sweden, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Detroit. The Red Wings defeated the Jets 3-2. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
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Coming off one of the worst seasons in an otherwise solid — and lengthy — career, Detroit d-man Niklas Kronwall is already looking to ensure the knee issues that plagued him won’t continue on into 2016-17.

Kronwall is “getting opinions” about how to fix the knee, Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. The injury limited the Swedish rearguard to just 64 games played — and those 64 games were largely played with Kronwall not close to 100 percent.

More, from the Free Press:

At 35, Kronwall is showing the wear and tear of being, at his best, a hard-hitting workhorse defenseman. Productionwise, he had the lowest numbers of his career since 2006-07, scoring just three goals and finishing with just 26 points in 64 games. (Even during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, he had five goals and 29 points in 48 games.) His minus-21 was eye-popping.

“It’s been a rough year in a lot of ways,” Kronwall said. “Definitely, a summer of good training is the first thing that you need, and the rest of it will play out as you go along.”

The Wings will be hopeful Kronwall can return to form.

He’s still got plenty of time left on his current deal — three more years, at a $4.75M cap hit — and is still considered a key part to the Red Wings defense, which wasn’t great this year and doesn’t project to be a heckua lot better next year.

If Kronwall can’t get back to form, it could push Holland even harder to make a trade to beef up the blueline.

Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon

Jaroslav Halak
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Jaroslav Halak took a major step in his return from a groin injury on Monday, participating in a full practice with his Islander teammates ahead of tomorrow’s Game 3 against the Lightning.

“He’s progressing,” head coach Jack Capuano said, per the Isles’ website. “I don’t know how far or where he is or when he could play, but I know that having him on the ice going through a full practice, but again it’s about conditioning and timing with goaltenders and their movement, but he’s progressing and it’s great to see.

“I don’t have a timetable yet though.”

Halak hasn’t played in nearly two months — he suffered his groin injury on Mar. 8. His initial timetable for return was 6-8 weeks, and Tuesday will mark his eighth week out of action.

It seems highly unlikely Halak will be an option — at least in terms of starting — anytime soon. He told the Isles’ site the lengthy layoff means it now feels “like the beginning of the season for me,” and Thomas Greiss has performed well through the playoffs thus far, posting a .937 save percentage and 2.06 GAA.

If anything, Halak’s goal could be to get in good enough shape to serve as Greiss’ backup at some point. J.F. Berube has filled that role during the postseason, but has yet to see any action.

Prior to getting hurt, Halak was New York’s No. 1 netminder and played reasonably well, posting a .919 save percentage and 2.30 GAA in 36 starts.

Martin Jones is making Doug Wilson look pretty smart

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 01:  Martin Jones #31 and Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks blocks the shot of Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. at SAP Center on May 1, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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The thing about rolling the dice on an unproven goalie is that you can look really foolish if it doesn’t work out.

That’s the risk Doug Wilson took when he bet on Martin Jones. Fortunately for the Sharks’ general manager, it’s looking like a great wager these days.

Seven games into the playoffs and Jones is 6-1 with a .923 save percentage. The 26-year-old has been especially good against the Predators. He was named first star in Game 2, a 3-2 San Jose victory that gave the Sharks a 2-0 series lead.

Jones, you’ll recall, was acquired in an offseason trade with the Bruins. The Sharks gave up a first-round draft pick and a prospect to get their man, whom they immediately signed to a three-year, $9 million contract.

At the time, Jones had only started 29 games in the NHL. He was slated to battle Alex Stalock — another relatively inexperienced guy — for the starting job in San Jose.

“I think I’m ready to definitely take that step and play more hockey games,” Jones said. “I had a great two years in L.A. learning from Jonathan Quick. It’s been a big couple of years in my development and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”

Make no mistake, it was a big risk for Wilson to bet on such an inexperienced tandem. If the Sharks had missed the playoffs again this year, who knows what would’ve happened in San Jose?

But while goaltending remains arguably the most important position in hockey, recent history shows it doesn’t take an experienced, big-money netminder to win. Quick had a $1.8 million cap hit when he won his first Stanley Cup with the Kings. Corey Crawford‘s cap hit was just under $3 million when he won his first Cup with the Blackhawks, who had Antti Niemi and his sub-$1 million salary in goal when they won in 2010.

Quick and Crawford have both signed big deals since. But the temptation for frugality remains, thanks to a seemingly endless supply of quality netminders. After all, the more cap space a team can save on its goalies, the more it can spend on its skaters.

The key, obviously, is picking the right horse. Choose poorly and it can be a disaster. That’s why some GMs will opt to pay a premium for experience. Track records can be comforting. Youngsters, on the other hand, can buckle under the weight of expectations.

So far, Jones has handled the postseason pressure like a veteran, and he’s a big reason why the Sharks are two wins from reaching the Western Conference Final.

Seguin resumes skating in Dallas, Ruff notes ‘they have flights into St. Louis every day’

Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin makes a pass during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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The latest on Tyler Seguin (and fellow injured Stars forward Patrick Eaves), per the Dallas Morning-News:

Q: On the statuses of Patrick Eaves (leg) and Tyler Seguin (Achilles)

Lindy Ruff: “Both skated today, both progressing.”

Q: On if Seguin and Eaves will travel with the team to St. Louis for Game 3

LR: “No, but they have flights into St. Louis every day.”

Seguin, as you’ve probably heard, hasn’t played since a Game 2 win over Minnesota in the opening round.

That was on Apr. 16.

Dallas’ All-Star center returned from a partially lacerated Achilles to participate in said Game 2, a nasty injury that cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and the series opener against the Wild.

The Stars say this latest injury has nothing to do with the previous one, but reporters haven’t been privy to much information beyond that.

In speaking last week, Ruff didn’t even want to put a timetable on Seguin’s return, for fear of what an inaccurate timetable might cause.

“I really can’t,” Ruff said. “I don’t even have a guesstimate on it. I don’t even think it’d be fair. If I guessed and if I’m off, everybody else will be wondering why did he guess that?”

GM Jim Nill did say the club expected Seguin to miss the first two games of the Blues series and, as of last Thursday, confirmed Seguin wasn’t skating.

“He’s day-to-day,” Nill explained. “Once he gets on the ice, it’s probably four to five days from there.”

This series, currently tied 1-1, will resume on Tuesday from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.