More on the NHL and 'distinct kicking motion'

Well, there’s no chance this is going away anytime soon. Forget the
conspiracy talks, the calls today have been for more consistency in the
decisions the NHL makes regarding game-changing goals and plays like
this one.

It doesn’t help that when the media and fans start to resource
the NHL rule book on matters such as this, we come across this
quote:

“A puck that deflects into the net of an
attacking player’s skate who
does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that
is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a
legitimate goal as long a no distinct kicking motion is evident.”

Everyone
is focused on the “distinct kicking motion” aspect of the rule. Did
Henrik Sedin put the puck in the net with a “distinct kicking motion’?
Not at all, but the motion of his skate was certainly the contributing
factor for redirecting the puck into the net.

The NHL is fine with
shots deflecting off skates and into the net, they’re okay with a puck
hitting a skate on it’s way it if  player is standing in the crease. But
a pass from behind the goal line that is put directly into the net with
a skate that propels the puck forward? That is what the NHL says it
doesn’t want.

There is precedent of this as well. The
Dallas Stars had a goal called back
against the Canucks this
season, when Brenden Morrow’s skate pushed the puck into the net. He
wasn’t even looking at it, probably had no clue it was there, but the
motion of his skate propelled the puck into the net. It was ruled a
no-goal by the War Room in Toronto.

So that brings us to Monday
night when Daniel Sedin, as he is crashing the net, directly changes the
trajectory of the puck with his skate. Talking
to Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
series supervisor Kris King explains
why this was ruled a no goal:

“First we determine where the pass came from,” series supervisor Kris
King explained Tuesday morning. “The only way it could go in with the
amount of speed on the pass was that it was kicked.

“They ruled that it was not a redirect, and not a deflection. It was
the movement of his foot going forward that propelled the puck over the
line.”

And forget about intention. The NHL does not make a decision on these
plays based on intent, as it’s likely that Sedin knew exactly what was
happening as he drove the net.

The NHL is saying that a DVD was sent to teams that spells out this
part of the rule, using video to show what is and is not a goal when
this rule is used. It’s also important to remember that the rule book we
have online is not the word-for-word rule book the NHL uses on a day to
day basis.

So now there’s calls for the wording to be better defined, for the
“distinct kicking motion” part of the rule to either be taken out or
have the rule, as it’s actually being enforced, better worded in the
rule book.

So while the conspiracy theorists will rant, the rest of us are left
with an NHL that is still playing catchup with defining the rules it
uses to enforce the game. Should these sorts of goals be allowed? Some
say yes, while others say that opening up the game for goals to be
allowed of skates is a dangerous precedent.  I say, let’s just get the
rule book squared away to what the NHL is actually going by, then we’ll
move forward.

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    Fleury celebrates Stanley Cup day as a Penguin, but admits he’s ready to move on

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    Marc-Andre Fleury celebrated his day with the Stanley Cup on Saturday.

    His time in Pittsburgh has already come to an official end, having been selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. He’s already said ‘thank-you’ to the fans of Pittsburgh, but the events of this weekend, in his mind it seems, close the chapter for good on this stage of his career.

    “I think this was my last day as a Penguin, I would say,” Fleury told NHL.com.

    “I have members of my family who had their Penguins hats who told me this was the last time those will come out. So I think after today, I can turn the page and get ready for Vegas.”

    The former first overall pick captured three Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins. While he wasn’t the No. 1 goalie last year — or in the 2017 final, either — he played a significant role in Pittsburgh’s success through the first half of this year’s playoff before Matt Murray returned from injury.

    He earned praise for how he handled the situation toward the end in Pittsburgh. After the final, reports surfaced he had agreed to waive his no-movement clause, which left him exposed in the expansion draft.

    At age 32, he still has two more years left on his current contract, with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. He’ll no doubt garner plenty of attention this upcoming season as the experienced starter on the Golden Knights’ roster.

    But Saturday was for Fleury to enjoy one last championship won with the Penguins.

    Hall urges Hischier to ‘develop at his own pace’

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    The New Jersey Devils won the lottery and selected Nico Hischier first overall. With that comes even greater expectations on the player heading into their first training camp.

    We’re less than two months away from the opening of training camps across the league.

    But on a team that has worked this summer to bolster its offense, the addition of the 18-year-old Hischier could have an immediate impact in that department in October. Certainly, fans in New Jersey will hope so.

    Taylor Hall knows all about the pressures of being taken first overall.

    The Oilers selected him at that spot in 2010, but dealt him to New Jersey last summer, removing a very talented forward from their roster in order to gain something back defensively.

    Devils coach John Hynes has already tried to lessen the burden on Hischier. Hall, it appears, has taken a similar approach.

    “He’s just got to relax and develop at his own pace,” Hall told the Toronto Sun. “That’s not always the easiest thing to do with all the expectations people put on you for going No. 1, but I’ll help him any way I can.”

    The Metropolitan Division featured four 100-plus point teams last season. New Jersey wasn’t one of them. Where the Devils need to make the most improvement in order to break back into the postseason conversation is with their offensive attack,finishing 28th in the league in total goals for last season.

    Hischier should help — if not exactly next season then beyond 2017-18. The Devils also acquired Marcus Johansson from Washington and the signing of Brian Boyle should help solidify depth up the middle.

    “It’s exciting times for us, bringing in the likes of Nico, Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson,” said Hall. “We’re certainly trending in the right direction.”

    Habs may lean more on Montoya to keep Price refreshed

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    The Montreal Canadiens committed money (a lot of money) and term to Carey Price with his contract extension at the beginning of this month.

    He is the backbone for this team, for its success.

    He’s also about to turn 30 years old next month, with 509 career games in the NHL, entering the league in 2007-08. For as great as he has been, the Habs may place added responsibilities on the shoulders of their back-up, a title currently held by Al Montoya.

    In an interview with the Habs’ website, the club’s goaltending coach Stephane Waite said that, in his mind, the days of starting goalies playing 65 to 70 games are done. It’s too tall an order in today’s NHL.

    Price has, on three occasions, breached the figures in that approximation during his career. He approached the lower end of that with 62 starts in 2016-17. Montoya, meanwhile, had 18 starts and 19 games, posting a 8-6-4 record (20 points for Montreal in the standings) and a .912 save percentage.

    He was the victim of one awful game, allowing 10 goals to Columbus on Nov. 4. But seriously, the entire Habs team was awful that night, essentially leaving their No. 2 goalie out to dry in an embarrassing effort from everyone.

    Beyond that, Montoya was able to put together some nice starts, including shutouts against Pittsburgh and Edmonton, two teams well-equipped with dangerous offensive talent.

    “We’re not afraid to put Al in goal against any team in the league,” said Waite.

    “We don’t look at who he’ll be playing, we just look at the schedule that we make at the beginning of the season. Our priority is to give Carey the right days off at the right times.”

    The Habs signed Montoya to a two-year extension in January. That’s a vote of confidence in their back-up.

    Maintaining that confidence with a good season would certainly help the Habs accomplish the objective of keeping Price rested and refreshed.

    Rangers are ‘right on the cusp,’ says Shattenkirk

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    Since missing the playoffs in 2010, the New York Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference Final three times, and to the Stanley Cup Final once.

    A championship, however, has eluded them. Instead, they’ve lost to the L.A. Kings in the final and watched their division rivals from Pittsburgh win it twice in a row, even losing to the Penguins in the first round in 2016.

    This summer, however, has brought considerable change to the Blueshirts through a blockbuster trade with Arizona, buyouts and a retirement.

    Derek Stepan — gone.

    Dan Girardi — gone.

    Kevin Klein — gone.

    Antti Raanta — gone.

    Oscar Lindberg — gone.

    There has been substantial change on the blue line. The Rangers went after prized free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk with a four-year contract worth $26.6 million. They re-signed Brendan Smith, a late-season acquisition. They brought in Anthony DeAngelo in that deal with Arizona.

    Read more: Optimism replaces pessimism after changes to Rangers defense

    No surprise here, but Shattenkirk had an optimistic outlook when describing the Rangers, a team he believes is “right on the cusp,” according to a conversation with NHL.com.

    “I think we have that capability of playing with a team like that,” Shattenkirk recently told NHL.com.

    “We have great goaltending (Henrik Lundqvist). Our defense is fast and we can make plays, but I also think we have a little bit of edge as well. Up front, I’m sure we’re one of the fastest teams in the League. You look at how Pittsburgh is built, and that’s the way that they’ve won. We have some great depth on our team, and I think that’s what it really comes down to at that point of the season: How deep are you?”

    Their success next season may also depend on which teams rise and fall in the Metropolitan Division.

    Columbus took a big step forward with a franchise record-setting season and will look to replicate that beginning in the fall. The Penguins were the Penguins, advancing past Washington and Ottawa in seven-game series despite a plethora of injuries before besting Nashville in the final. One has to wonder how much of a toll the grind of two Stanley Cups will take on that club. The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy but faltered in the playoffs, ushering in change to their roster with all the unrestricted free agents — including Shattenkirk for the playoff run — they had.

    Can the Islanders get back into the playoffs? Same question for the Flyers. Will Carolina, with Scott Darling in net, get the necessary upgrade at that position and take the next step toward the playoffs? What will New Jersey, with an upgraded offense in addition to Taylor Hall, be capable of when the season begins?

    The number of changes to teams in the Metropolitan may be enough to shift the balance of power in that division this upcoming season. The Rangers have seemed like a team on the cusp at least three times in the last seven years.

    Shattenkirk mentioned goaltending, as well, calling it great. That’s an accurate description of what Lundqvist has been for many years in New York. However, at the age of 35, he’ll need to bounce back from what was a down season for him in 2016-17.

    “I think everyone’s probably all going to judge [the window] based on Lundqvist, and everyone is talking about, ‘Well, how long does he have left?'” continued Shattenkirk. “We have a lot of young players on this team, though, to counterbalance that.”