Jonathan Toews,  Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Ty Conklin

Ty Conklin fumes over controversial goal call, NHL considers tweaking nets

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Hockey is a sport in which every little goal can be important, considering how tough they truly are to come by (unless you happen to be Corey Perry, apparently). Referee Dan O’Halloran decided that Marian Hossa’s goal was legitimate – meaning that the puck crossed the red line and that Hossa’s stick touched the puck after he kicked it – and the NHL’s review room in Toronto couldn’t find enough evidence to overturn his decision.

That goal cut the St. Louis Blues’ lead in half, making the score 2-1. Getting that tally lit a fire under the desperate Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up winning the game thanks to a Jonathan Toews overtime goal.

Ty Conklin was in net for the Blues when that controversial call was made and – to little surprise – he was more than a bit peeved by the review process. One must wonder if he might even be at risk of earning a fine from the NHL for his surprisingly candid critique of the league’s decision. Conklin almost stepped in conspiracy theory territory, as you can see from this story via CSN Chicago.

“They called it a goal on the ice, which is fine, that’s understandable.  But the reason we have video replay is to get the right call. They’re probably going to make it into the playoffs anyway, but do we really have to make it that obvious that the league wants them in?” he said. “It was a close play, but the puck never crossed the line.”

If you want a snapshot of how much the Blues and Blackhawks dislike each other, that quote is an excellent example.

While the NHL’s system of handing out suspensions and fines draws plenty of mockery and criticism, the league’s goal review process seems just as nebulous. The league’s war room almost seems like a shadowy organization, even if they aren’t do anything more nefarious than deciding for or against goals.

Many people (including myself) would like to see more transparency in the decision making process, but TSN’s Darren Dreger indicates that the league is striving to improve things with a more literal type of transparency. Simply put, they want to change nets to make it easier to see if a puck crosses the goal line or not.

Camera angles, poor video quality and obstructed views have always plagued video review.

There have multiple proposals considered to improve this process, but the league seems focused on the nets and changes that can be introduced to increase visibility.

In addition to testing a thinner mesh on the top of the nets, the National Hockey League will also be changing the ribbon that essentially protects skates from hitting the base of the net.

The existing ribbon that wraps around the base is white, but will be replaced this summer at the research and development camp by a clear band which will extend three feet back of the goal line from each post.

People want a more open process, but let’s face it, we might not get that any time soon (if ever). I’m on board with the tweaks Dreger mentioned, along with the research and development camp’s proposals of adding a plexiglass top to the net and yellow line behind the goal line to make it easier to tell when goals are scored.

These changes won’t always make the Conklins of the world happy, but then again, will a goalie ever really be happy when a goal is allowed?

Finally, here’s video of that much-debated goal, for your own debating purposes.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.