Video: Todd Bertuzzi's controversial goal

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Wings1.pngI don’t believe in conspiracy theories, although I understand that
there are a number of fans throughout the NHL that are convinced that
their team has a target on it’s back. The Red Wings fall into this
category, based on the fact on the number of controversial calls that
have gone against Detroit the past few years that have taken goals away.
Nevermind the fact that the Red Wings are the most successful franchise
of the past 20 years and have won four Stanley Cups in that time.

Now, we have a controversial call that has gone in favor of the Red
Wings, and one that continues their incredible hot streak headed in to
the playoffs.

1:13 into the third period, with the Red Wings leading Columbus 2-1,
Todd Bertuzzi looked to have scored to give Detroit a 3-1 lead. The
officials immediately called off the goal off, then went to Toronto for
further review. The referees supposedly originally called the goal off
based on Bertuzzi kicking the puck in, and on replays it showed the puck
definitely going in off his skate.

Surprisingly, video replay overturned the call.

“It’s a really sad state of affairs if that’s the winning goal,” Blue
Jackets coach Claude Noel said. “You can see for yourself.”

After the jump, video of the goal and a debate over Bertuzzi’s soccer
skills.

“No, not me. I don’t think I’m good enough to do something like that.
Every once in a while you get some lucky bounces and that was one of
them,” Bertuzzi said. “It ended up being pretty important. … I was just
going to the net and got hit. Z (Zetterberg) made a good play getting it
to the net. There was contact. Hit the back of my skate and went in.”

Normally when a goal is called off for being kicked, it comes with a
very distinct kicking motion and usually as the player is ‘braking’ as
they crash the net. They’ll direct their skate forward in order to
direct the shot or try and sweep the puck in the direction of the net.
These fall under ‘distinct kicking motions’. But what about when the
puck is kicked off the heel of the skate, backwards?

Here’s the game highlights from Detroit’s 3-2 win. The replay of the
goal starts at 4:45.

It certainly appears that his skate was coming down, just as the puck
went off his heel. But was it a ‘distinct kicking motion’? Normally,
when one thinks of kicking it’s in a forward direction. I don’t think
we’ve ever seen a player deliberately bank a shot off the back of his
skate before, which if done on purpose is one heck of a feat. That’s
like swinging a bat backwards at a 60 mph pitch.

Good goal or not?
There really is no precedent for this sort of ‘kick’ and the officials
in Toronto determined that it was not a deliberate, distinct kick. More
like blind luck than anything.

What are your thoughts?

Eddie Lack expects to be released from hospital on Monday night

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As scary as the situation was for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, the good news continues to pour in.

First, the Hurricanes provided an update that he had “full feeling in his extremities” while under observation at a hospital. This followed the promising sign that he was able to give a “thumbs up” gesture while being taken off the ice on a stretcher after the Hurricanes’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The best news came late on Monday night, however, as Lack himself tweeted that he expects to head back home as early as this late evening/early morning:

That’s fantastic news. Video of that scary collision with Andreas Athanasiou can be seen in the video above this post’s headline.

Blues, Flames take care of business (Islanders … do not)

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For a while there, it seemed like the idle Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs would be Monday’s “winners.” That changed when the Carolina Hurricanes salvaged a standings point and the Tampa Bay Lightning stormed back to beat the Blackhawks.

Still, there were some teams who came through (beyond the Lightning) and those who fell flat, so let’s cover some of the results in short.

West teams get it done

Unlike their counterparts out East, West teams jockeying for position avoided “unforced errors” in losing to non-playoff teams.

The St. Louis Blues beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 while the Calgary Flames topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. Johnny Gaudreau generated his 200th point (and 201st) in Calgary’s win, while Alex Steen generated four assists. (Vladimir Tarasenko also enjoyed a three-point night.)

This keeps the Blues and Flames in position to advance. St. Louis is one point behind the Nashville Predators for third in the Central while the Flames are a point behind both the Sharks and Oilers for second and third in the Pacific (while remaining in shouting distance of the division title).

East teams stumble, some get over it

Again, the Lightning fought through hurdles to win and the Hurricanes managed that “charity point.”

Overall, East teams struggled. The New York Islanders fell to the Predators by a score of 3-1. Your mileage may vary on the Florida Panthers’ chances, especially after they fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Brian Gionta scored in his 1,000th game as Buffalo won, by the way.

Here’s what the race for the final spot in the East looks like after tonight:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Victor Hedman might just force his way into the Norris argument

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For quite some time this season, the Norris Trophy race felt a bit like “Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson and [insert token finalist].” As it turns out, Victor Hedman is making it a pretty interesting three-horse race.

With Burns and Karlsson idle on Monday, Hedman continued to go on the best offensive tear of his already-impressive career, contributing three assists to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As much credit as forwards Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin deserve in pushing Tampa Bay in Steven Stamkos‘ absence, Hedman has been an all-world blueliner for a Lightning team with a defense that isn’t really surrounding him with great talent.

He’s serving as a workhorse when his team needs him the most:

Now, when you look at the numbers, it’s probably fair to say that Hedman comes in third among the likely finalists in simple categories:

Brent Burns: 27 goals (!), 72 points in 75 games, +16 rating, 24:52 time-on-ice average

Erik Karlsson: 14 goals, 67 points in 74 games, +7, 26:53 minutes per game (fourth highest average in the NHL)

Victor Hedman: 15 goals, 65 points in 72 games, +2 rating, came into Monday with average of 24:15 minutes per game.

Looking at those breakdowns, you might wonder why someone wouldn’t just flippantly hand Hedman the “bronze medal” and a pat on the back … but things get more interesting if you ponder the all-around impact of those three.

Now, traditional-thinkers who slam risky defensemen for their mistakes often overstate such arguments. Both Burns and Karlsson tilt the ice in their teams’ favors, usually to profound degrees.

Still … Hedman locks opponents down to a truly elite degree and scores at a similar rate. Hedman could very well own the “two-way” argument; you could perhaps see his case most clearly when you compare his “HERO” chart to those of Burns and Karlsson, especially from the perspective of conceding shots.

Again, Burns remains the likely winner, and he would be a deserving one. You could make a solid Hart Trophy argument for Burns, in addition to tabbing him as the Norris frontrunner.

Even so, voters would be wise to take Hedman’s case seriously, especially as the Lightning continue their improbable playoff push.

Lightning storm back against Blackhawks, finish one point out of playoffs

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Who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would rally back from a 4-1 deficit tonight? Then again, who expected them to be so close to a playoff spot mere weeks ago, when they were sellers at the trade deadline?

The Lightning continue to show that they won’t just roll over and die, scoring four unanswered goals to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 in overtime on Monday.

While Jonathan Drouin was a catalyst for the second-period rally, it was an unlikely scorer who clinched the victory, as Yanni Gourde ended a thrilling run of 3-on-3 chances with the overtime-winner.

Really, it might have been fitting. Things looked glum when Tomas Jurco scored his first goal of the season against the Lightning, then the mood was totally flipped when Gourde’s second tally of 2016-17 grabbed a huge win.

With the Islanders losing to the Predators, the Hurricanes only managing a “loser point” against the Red Wings and the Bruins idle, Tampa Bay is a breath away from a playoff berth:

Final wild card: Bruins – 84 points in 75 games played

Lightning – 83 points in 75 GP
Islanders – 82 points in 75 GP
Hurricanes – 80 points in 74 GP

Yes, all of a sudden, a long-shot postseason run seems quite attainable.

Maybe the Lightning would prefer it if we kept counting them out, though?