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.

Is Vancouver considering a Markstrom-Nilsson reunion in goal?

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With news that Ryan Miller is set to sign in Anaheim, the Canucks need a netminder to pair with Jacob Markstrom.

And a new report suggests they’re contemplating one of Markstrom’s old crease mates.

Per WGR 550, Vancouver has interest in soon-to-be Sabres UFA Anders Nilsson. Nilsson, 27, is coming off a pretty nice year in Buffalo, where he posted a .923 save percentage over 26 games (while making 23 starts).

Nilsson played last season on a one-year, $1 million deal, just like he did the season prior. But ’16-17 was by far his most successful campaign at the NHL level and, accordingly, he’s drawn interest from across the league.

As mentioned above, Nilsson is pretty familiar with Markstrom. They formed the one-two punch in goal for Sweden at the 2010 World Juniors — capturing bronze in the process — and have an awful lot in common. Both are 27. Their frames are eerily similar in that both are tall, physically imposing netminders — Markstrom is listed at 6-foot-6, 196 pounds while Nilsson is listed at 6-foot-6, 229 pounds.

The Canucks will likely want Markstrom to work in tandem with someone next season. Given his body of work, it’s fair to suggest they won’t hand him the keys to a No. 1 job. So if a timeshare is in the works, it makes sense to go with someone he has history with.

From the Nilsson perspective, Vancouver’s as good an opportunity as any right now. Available goalie spots are getting snapped up almost daily, and there are still several UFAs looking for work: Brian Elliott, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier, Chad Johnson, Darcy Kuemper and Ondrej Pavelec, specifically.

 

 

Oilers put Pouliot on waivers for buyout purposes

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Benoit Pouliot‘s time in Edmonton has come to an end.

The 30-year-old forward has been placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of being bought out.

A buyout will mean a $1.33 million cap hit the next four seasons, as opposed to a $4 million cap hit the next two years if Pouliot remained on the roster.

The Oilers could use the cap space, what with Connor McDavid on the verge of signing a massive extension that will start in 2018-19, and Leon Draisaitl requiring an extension for next season.

Pouliot had just eight goals and six assists in 67 games last season.

Related: For Oilers, trading Jordan Eberle was about ‘long-term thinking’

Agent: Numerous Stanley Cup contenders have called on Kunitz

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Chris Kunitz is in demand.

That’s the word from agent Ben Hankinson, who this week told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette his 37-year-old client is garnering major interest from a number of teams — and certain kinds of teams, to be clear.

More:

Hankinson, who represents Kunitz, said he’s fielded calls from as many as 10 teams with a legitimate shot at knocking off the Penguins next season, all interested in signing Kunitz.

“I don’t know where it’s going to end up,” Hankinson said. “Chris does have interest from a lot of teams. Who knows exactly where that interest is going to be once the offers start flying around, but he does have a lot of interest.”

Kunitz, who turns 38 in September, has been told by GM Jim Rutherford to explore free agency (to be fair, Rutherford told all his UFAs this). It’s going to be really interesting what that means for Kunitz, who could bring plenty to a team looking to make a postseason run.

For starters, there’s his experience. Few active NHLers have played — and won — in the playoffs as much as Kunitz. He’s got 161 games on his resume with four Stanley Cups, and was a key contributor for Pittsburgh this past spring.

In 20 games, Kunitz racked up 11 points while averaging 14:52 TOI per night. His nine assists put him tied for fourth on the team, and he famously scored the double-OT winner against Ottawa in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Given the lack of options in this year’s free agent class, Kunitz could score a pretty decent contract. That’s important, as it might be his last. The cagey veteran spoke at the Stanley Cup Final about how this could very well be his last kick at the can with Pittsburgh, and acknowledged that — given how limited opportunities are to win in the NHL — he needed to capitalize on every single one.

“We’ve been together for so long,” Kunitz said. “Our families are close, the kids are getting older and you realize that we’ve been really fortunate to have this great group of guys that have stuck together for so long. It’s rare to have guys stay for that long.

“So you just want to capitalize and make the most of it. [We’ve] all gone out for dinner together before the trade deadline, never knowing where your hockey career’s going to go. It’s something you put into your mind, but you’ve got to go out there and achieve your success every time you can.”

Report: Kovalchuk talking extension with KHL club

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Last week, Devils GM Ray Shero was of the belief that Ilya Kovalchuk was still planning to play in the NHL next season.

Today, however, a Russian media outlet is reporting that Kovalchuk is talking with his KHL club, SKA Saint Petersburg, about a possible extension.

If accurate, that would mesh with an earlier report — the one that Shero ostensibly shot down — that Kovalchuk had decided to keep playing in Russia.

The NHL’s decision to skip the 2018 Winter Olympics may be weighing on Kovalchuk. If he returns to North America, he won’t be able to represent his country in South Korea — a fact that was cemented last week when the NHL released its 2017-18 schedule.

Of course, all this could just be SKA Saint Petersburg making a last-ditch attempt to keep Kovalchuk.

“We have the desire to keep Ilya. He is our hockey player, a patriot and loves to play for the national team,” said club president Gennady Timchenko (translated, per Sportsnet). “We will talk today, and we might have some news later.”

Kovalchuk can’t sign an NHL contract until July 1.