Jonathan Toews,  Marian Hossa, Brian Campbell, Ty Conklin

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

6 Comments

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.

Flames’ Bennett, Tkachuk accused of slew-footing in loss to Leafs

Leave a comment

The Calgary Flames dropped an ugly 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, not exactly rebounding from an embarrassing 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers.

Things were ugly in a different way toward the end, especially if you ask Maple Leafs fans, as Sam Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk may or may not be guilty of “slew-footing” late in the contest. In each case, they were whistled for roughing.

Bennett was guilty of the first incident on Connor Carrick:

Meanwhile, around the time of the final whistle, Tkachuk’s “roughing” of Martin Marincin drew quite a bit of ire. You can see for yourself in the video above the post’s headline.

More than a few people believe that Tkachuk will be on the Department of Player Safety’s radar thanks to this moment.

There’s no doubt that he’s been making waves as a pest – really, from his first game in the NHL – but some believe he went over the line this time. He’s second in the NHL with 92 penalty minutes, by the way.

Patrick Marleau’s magical third period secures Sharks win vs. Avalanche

Leave a comment

At 37 years old and nearing 500 career goals, there aren’t a ton of things Patrick Marleau has failed to accomplish.* Still, he did something he’s never done – and few players have managed to do – in the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.

The amusing thing is that it was a mundane night for Marleau and the Sharks heading into the third period.

They carried a 2-1 lead against the Avs before Marleau’s magical period really kicked into gear. In less than eight minutes of game time, Marleau managed an out-of-left-field natural hat trick:

He didn’t stop there, either, as he also hit the four-goal mark for the first time in his career … and again, it was in the same period.

That’s his first four-goal game (and period, naturally). It’s been a long, long time since someone enjoyed a period like Marleau did:

Speaking of history, this massive night indeed places Marleau close to another impressive feat. He’s now at 497 career goals, three away from the elusive 500 mark.

To underscore how unexpected this outburst was, consider this: Marleau generated zero goals and one assist in his previous seven games.

As the Sharks enjoy an era fueled by the ascent of Brent Burns and the passing of the torch from the likes of Marleau and Joe Thornton to a group including Logan Couture and Martin Jones, it seems fitting that Marleau – a player receding from the team’s spotlight – totally stole the spotlight on Monday.

The Sharks probably won’t complain, either. He helped them seal their fifth consecutive win, putting San Jose in a strong position to regain the lead in the Pacific Division.

Pretty good stuff from a guy who rapidly faded from relevance after being stripped of the Sharks captaincy.

* – How dare you make Stanley Cup jokes on a happy occasion for Sharks fans?

Capitals assert their dominance once again, this time clobbering Hurricanes

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates after assisting Justin Williams #14 on a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Verizon Center on January 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Getty
4 Comments

The Washington Capitals lead the league in standings points … and maybe in swagger. At least, it feels that way lately.

Monday presented their latest display of power as the Carolina Hurricanes had no answer for the Capitals machine. Washington clobbered Carolina by a score of 6-1, but at least the Hurricanes can take comfort in joining a rather large group of teams who’ve been humbled by Braden Holtby & Co.

This makes the Capitals 11-0-1 during a dominant run; they’ve scored at least a point in all but one game since Dec. 21.

Honestly, you can dice up their hot streak in a variety of ways, as Washington’s been outstanding since at least early December. Margin of victory might be the most jaw-dropping way to illustrate Washington’s dominant run:

Yep, that’s something else.

Dmitry Orlov was one of the standouts of this latest win, scoring two goals. His strong night and flashes of brilliance prompted Alex Ovechkin to … maybe go a little over the top.

Hey, when you’re on fire like the Capitals have been lately, it’s probably tough to make some pretty bold comparisons.

Things might be turning around for Lundqvist (not so much for the Kings)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13:  Marian Gaborik #12 of the Los Angeles Kings shakes hands with Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers after the Kings 3-2 double-overtime victory during Game Five of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
3 Comments

As you likely know, the 2017 NHL All-Star Game is coming to Los Angeles this weekend. If the Kings don’t get it together, that might be the biggest hockey event for some time, as they’re currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs.

Monday presented what felt like a story of one cold streak continuing to fade away while the other only seems to get icier.

The positive side: Henrik Lundqvist might just be working through that slump.

The New York Rangers beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Monday, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for Lundqvist. He made 36 out of 38 stops, giving him a personal three-game winning streak in which he’s allowed just four total goals.

Some of those stops were pretty impressive, too:

(He also shut down a Jeff Carter breakaway, which is obviously no easy task.)

While Lundqvist is getting it together, the Kings might just be a little worried after dropping their fourth straight loss.

They’re at 48 points in 47 games, leaving them three points behind the West’s two wild card teams and two behind the Canucks.

The Kings have experience fighting through challenges like these, but they’ve also fallen short of getting into the West’s top eight, and their schedule is awfully road-heavy:

Tuesday: at Devils
Thursday: at Hurricanes
Tuesday, Jan. 31: at Coyotes
Wednesday, Feb. 1: vs. Avalanche
Saturday, Feb. 4: at Flyers
Sunday, Feb. 5: at Capitals
Tuesday, Feb. 7: at Lightning
Thursday, Feb. 9: at Panthers

Some of those opponents are struggling and the All-Star break might allow for a breather, but that could still be a problematic stretch, especially if the Kings are in a fragile state.

Then again, if they look at Lundqvist’s upward trend, they can note that fortunes can change pretty quickly in 2016-17.