CALGARY, CANADA – APRIL 6:Jarome Iginla #12 of the Calgary Flames is congratulated by teammate Alex Tanguay #40 on his hat trick goal against the Edmonton Oilers in third period NHL action on April 6, 2011 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jarome Iginla;Alex Tanguay
The NHL’s replay system for goaltender interference could be on the verge of getting a little bit of an overhaul.
The league’s general managers discussed the process this week at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida and recommended that the final decision for goalie interference challenges be handled by the hockey operations department in Toronto’s situation room, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
Currently, those review decisions are made by the on-ice officials at the game.
Goalie interference has been one of the biggest hot button topics in the NHL this season and pretty much nobody seems to be happy with how it has gone because there does not seem to be any consistent standard on how it is enforced, what interference is, and whether or not goals will be allowed to stand once they are challenged.
There have been no shortage of complaints from players (particularly goalies) and coaches over the past few months.
By having the final decision handled by the folks in Toronto it would at least seem to bring some level of consistency to the calls because it would be the same people making the decisions every time.
On the other hand, it could also lead to even more confusion because an entirely new set of people are now making the decision just as the playoffs are set to begin.
Before that change can be made it has to be approved by the NHLPA, the officials union, and the NHL’s board of governors. That process is currently underway.
While the wheels are in motion for the goalie interference review process to change, the NHL’s general managers voted down a potential change to the offside rule.
It had been proposed that the NHL change the wording of the offside rule to allow players to have their skate off the ice when entering the zone, essentially turning the blue line into a vertical plane. The thinking there is that it would cut down on the number of offside calls and allow more goals to stand if a player’s skate is still behind the blue line but a couple of inches off the ice. As the rule is written now, the skate must remain on the ice for the play to be onside.
Colin Campbell said on Tuesday that there was not much of a push from the GMs to change that rule because “players know the rule,” via Seravalli.
The NHL season is quickly wrapping up which means time is running out for the teams that are still trying to make up ground in the playoff races.
With 11 games on the schedule on Tuesday night there is plenty at stake, both for teams that are still scrambling to get in and teams that are trying to get the possible seed.
Let’s take a look at what is on the line for Tuesday starting with the Wester Conference.
In the Western Conference the Dallas Stars, losers of eight of their past 10 games, are desperate for a win in an effort to stop the recent bleeding. They have been fading fast in recent weeks, are without starting goalie Ben Bishop, and have to go on the road (where they have struggled all season) to play a first-place Capitals team.
They enter the day two points back of the second Wild Card spot which is currently occupied by the Anaheim Ducks. A win would bring the Stars back even for the time being, though Anaheim would still have a game in hand. It could also bring them even with the Colorado Avalanche if they fail to gain a point against the Chicago Blackhawks. And speaking of the Blackhawks, a loss on Tuesday would officially mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention this season and end their run of nine consecutive postseason appearances.
It is a significantly busier night in the Eastern Conference race, though most of that comes down to seeding and potential first-round matchups.
[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]
The Blue Jackets are looking to run their current winning streak to nine consecutive games when they visit the New York Rangers, and depending on what happens with the Penguins and Flyers they could find themselves tied for the second spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets enter the day tied with the Flyers with 85 points (the Flyers have the tiebreaker at the moment) and just two points back of the Penguins.
The Penguins are in New York to play the Islanders, while the Flyers take on a Detroit Red Wings team that has lost 10 games in a row.
You can catch the Flyers-Red Wings game on NBCSN.
Tampa Bay can extend its lead for the top spot in the Atlantic Division (and the Eastern Conference) with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning are currently three points ahead of the Boston Bruins, but the Bruins will have two games in hand after Tuesday.
When it comes to competing for an actual playoff spot, the Florida Panthers continue their current road trip in Ottawa. The Panthers were 2-0 winners on Monday night in Montreal and have a quick turnaround for this one. A week ago the Senators handed the Panthers a tough loss on home ice, part of a stretch that saw the Panthers drop games to two teams well out of the playoff race.
The Panthers can not afford to let that happen tonight. A Panthers loss, combine with a Devils win in San Jose would put them in a five-point hole. Or, on the other hand, a Panthers win and a Devils loss could narrow that gap down to a single point. The Panthers are catching a break in this one, too, because an already bad Senators team will be without All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Needless to say, there is plenty on the line for both teams.
If the playoffs started today
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Nashville Predators vs. Anaheim Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche
Winnipeg Jets vs. Minnesota Wild
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
Tuesday’s Key Games
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET
Dallas Stars vs. Washington Capitals, 7 p.m. ET
Florida Panthers vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 p.m. ET
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET
Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. ET
New Jersey Devils vs. San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Tuesday night, as the Detroit Red Wings host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
Since dropping seven of eight games at the start of the month, the Flyers have won back-to-back games over the Hurricanes and Capitals. The good news for them, is that they’ll finish the week with a pair of contests against non-playoff teams like the Wings and Rangers.
Tonight’s clash against the Red Wings will be the first time that Petr Mrazek plays against his former team.
“It’s gonna be nice to be back in the town where I spent my first five or six years in the NHL, but now it’s the opposite [side],” Mrazek said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s gonna be fun.
“We are going there to get some good results, and we have to build from there.”
And the Flyers certainly need a good result. They’re currently sitting in third place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Blue Jackets, who are in the first Wild Card spot, are tied with them for 85 points. The Devils, who own the second Wild Card spot, are just three points back of Philadelphia.
As for the Red Wings, this season got away from them in a hurry. They’re in a battle of their own, but it’s not for a playoff spot, it’s for lottery positioning.
“This isn’t supposed to be easy, this is the National Hockey League,” Jeff Blashill said, per Detroit News. “Sports aren’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. That’s why it feels so good when you win. So we have to find a way to keep fighting here.
“Our guys have done an excellent job of staying with it. Our competitiveness has been great. We have to make sure we’re fighting through that frustration at the end of the game. We can’t have that.”
On Monday night, Carey Price made his return to the Canadiens lineup after he missed 13 games with a concussion. Price didn’t play in last night’s game against the Panthers, but the fact that he dressed as the backup means it’s just a matter of time before he ends up back between the pipes.
Under normal circumstances, this would be great news for the Habs, but most fans don’t want to see him suit up again this season. With nine games to go and the team way out of playoff contention, some don’t understand why Montreal would risk playing him in meaningless games.
It’s important to remember that Price has had his share on injuries over the last few seasons. Still, that won’t stop Claude Julien from using his franchise goaltender down the stretch.
“I don’t think that’s the right approach or the right example to set for players,” Julien said of shutting Price down for the season.
“He’s healthy, he wants to play. He’s not coming back at 90 percent, he’s 100 percent healthy right now. You can’t hold a player back, especially a player like Carey, and tell him you’ll miss the next 10 games. I don’t think that’s the right message to send.”
Shutting Price down for the rest of the season certainly makes sense in theory. His eight-year, $84 million extension kicks in at the start of next season and the Canadiens don’t have anything to gain by letting him play this year. On the flip side, it’s easy to understand why Price would want to play.
First, he’s a competitor. Most athletes would prefer to play if they’re fully healthy. They clearly don’t approach these situations the same way fans do. They’re professionals, they want to win and sitting on the sidelines as a precaution is unnatural to them.
Second, he may not want to go an entire offseason wondering how his head will respond to a live game. If he comes back, plays a couple of games, stays healthy and plays well, there will be nothing to wonder about over the summer months.
Third, like his team, he’s had a pretty bad year. He owns a 15-22-6 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage. Some of that is on the play of the players in front of him, but don’t get it twisted, he’s been mediocre, too.
So, we’ve gone through the reasons why he should play. Now, we’ll look at the obvious risk of allowing him to see game action.
Anytime any NHL player steps on the ice, there’s a risk that he could get injured. For Price, those concerns have to be magnified. The 30-year-old is just two years removed from a knee injury that cost him several months and he’s been sidelined on two different occasions this season (10 games for a lower-body injury, 13 games with a concussion).
If the Canadiens were in the chase for a playoff spot, there would be no argument here. Everyone would want him back as soon as possible. Unfortunately for Montreal, they’re 18 points behind New Jersey for the final Wild Card spot in the East. So in other words, it ain’t happening.
There are legitimate points on both sides of the argument. It’s easy to see why some people aren’t interested in having him play out the season. The reasons for him to get back in action are also simple.
In the end, none of this will matter…unless he gets hurt.