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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    Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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    How in the world did he get up?

    Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

    Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

    The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

    Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

    Talk about hard-headed.

    Who could take Taylor Hall’s place if he has to miss the All-Star Game?

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    With Taylor Hall set to miss the next couple of games due to a hand injury, and with that injury putting his All-Star Game prospects in jeopardy, we look at the players who are worthy of replacing the New Jersey Devils forward if he has to miss this weekend’s festivities.

    Two names that immediately come to mind are Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel and Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier.

    There was already an argument that Kessel deserved to be at the ASG over Sidney Crosby. He was leading the Penguins in points then and two weeks later, he continues to pace Pittsburgh with 21 goals (tied with Evgeni Malkin) and 54 points, three more points than Crosby.

    Couturier has already smashed his previous career highs in both goals (26) and points (47). He’s been part of the reason that Claude Giroux is already headed to the ASG and deserves to be there himself.

    At third would have to be Sebastian Aho. The talent in the Metropolitan is evident with his snub. He’s clearly the best player on the Carolina Hurricanes this season (no disrespect to Teuvo Teravainen).

    Aho is well on his way to eclipsing his rookie-season totals and a big reason why the Hurricanes are three points back of a playoff spot.

    Beyond those three guys, there’s a few that certainly deserve the honor:

    • Anders Lee has 27 goals this season, seven off the pace he set last season with half the season to go.
    • Jakub Voracek leads the NHL with 45 assists, four more than teammate Giroux.
    • Evgeni Malkin. Not having a bad year.

    It’s important to remember that the at-least-one-player-per-team rule goes out the window when it comes to replacing another All-Star.

    There are certainly some very deserving names that didn’t get the first call.

    But life’s about second chances.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    WATCH LIVE: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Chicago Blackhawks

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    Projected Lines

    Tampa Bay Lightning

    Nikita KucherovBrayden PointTyler Johnson

    Vladislav NamestnikovSteven StamkosChris Kunitz

    Alex Killorn — Matthew Peca — Yanni Gourde

    Michael Bournival — Cedric PaquetteRyan Callahan

    Jake DotchinAnton Stralman

    Mikhail SergachevDan Girardi

    Braydon CoburnAndrej Sustr

    Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

    NHL on NBCSN: ‘Out of sync’ Lightning look to end three-game losing skid against ‘Hawks

    Chicago Blackhawks

    Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsAnthony Duclair

    Patrick SharpNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane

    Alex DeBrincatArtem AnisimovRyan Hartman

    Tomas Jurco — David Kampf — Vinnie Hinostroza

    Duncan KeithJordan Oesterle

    Erik Gustafsson — Brent Seabrook

    Michal KempnyConnor Murphy

    Starting goalie: Jeff Glass

    Are Penguins making the right call with Sprong demotion?

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    After being a healthy scratch for two games and seemingly being in the doghouse since at least Jan. 17, Daniel Sprong is headed back to the AHL.

    To some degree, the move was made because it seems like Bryan Rust is getting ready to return to the mix after being sidelined since Dec. 27. Still, it’s a frustrating development for those who believe in Sprong’s potential as the 46th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

    All of the 20-year-old’s points came in one game, as Sprong scored two goals and one assist against the Islanders on Jan. 5. He went without a point in his other seven appearances in the NHL this season, with six coming during his latest stint.

    Sprong was in the double digits in ice time each night until the Penguins’ loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 17, when he was glued to the bench from the second period on. Considering his lack of production in general, it’s understandable that head coach Mike Sullivan is more reactive to mistakes.

    Certain details make the move more debatable, though.

    For those who believe that Ryan Reaves‘ role is antiquated, it must be frustrating to see Sprong get demoted. Reaves has been averaging less than seven minutes per game (6:41) despite taking a spot in the lineup for 49 contests. Pittsburgh is in a life-or-death battle for a playoff spot, and many believe that his presence (and the first rounder they gave up to acquire him) is a waste for the Penguins.

    The Pens also seem like they’re taking a questionable all-or-nothing approach with Sprong.

    Sprong’s most common even-strength linemates (by far) were Sidney Crosby and Dominik Simon, via Natural Stat Trick. Maybe Sprong isn’t quite the right fit for Crosby at this point in his career, but there has to be at least a chance that he could provide more punch for the Penguins’ lineup than someone like Reaves lower in the lineup?

    His possession stats have been solid in a small sample size and he hasn’t been shy, firing just less than three shots on goal per game (22 SOG in eight games). Couldn’t the Penguins find room for Rust and Sprong?

    These are questions at least some Penguins media members and fans are asking right now, but the bottom line is that the team clearly believes that Reaves is a difference-maker. If Sprong is going to rank as one as well, it sounds like he’ll need to earn his next chance first.

    We’ll see how the Sprong-less Penguins fare against the Carolina Hurricanes in a pretty important game on Tuesday. In other Penguins news, Matt Murray was overwhelmed by the support he received from his team and teammates following his father’s death.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.