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Monday, May 14, 2007

I'm Not A Psychic, I Just Know the NHL Better Than You Do

Incredibly I'm going to toot my own horn here as I predicted that the NHL and the officials would again find a way to continue letting old, bad habits creep on in with ignorant officiating. Little did I know, however, that just straight up BAD officiating would show up alongside it.

In case you missed it, during the third period of Game Two of the Campbell Conference Western Conference Finals, it was made abundantly clear that both running the goaltender (as Teemu Selanne had done just before this "goal") as well as shoving the goalie into the net while he's got the puck covered (Windows Media Player needed) leading to the tying goal are now OK by the "New NHL" standards. At least according to Rob Schick and Kevin Pollock. No, not Kevin Pollak - although I don't imagine he'd have done any worse of a job.

Sure, the officials tried to do the honorable thing and have the play sent up for review, but don't be fooled - this was a mere red herring to keep the peace with the comatose fans at Joe Louis Arena. As I'd spotted on a hockey forum here on Ye Olde Interweb, here's the way things go down:

According to the CBC announcers, the replay booth could only review whether or not the puck went into the net (it did). They could not review whether or not Niedermayer shoved Hasek into the net (he did).Rule 69.6 (from the 2006-07 NHL Rulebook):"In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed. If applicable, appropriate penalties will be assessed."

So, thanks to your lovely neighborhood officiating crew, what you got rather than the correct ruling was a nice dog and pony show. I hope you all had your bets placed on the Whippet and Shetland Pony.

That nonsense aside, the continued allowance of all things interference continues to baffle me. Just about every faceoff in last night's game resembled not so much the dropping of the puck, but a rugby scrum instead with guys all pretending like they were Rob Brind'Amour, sans horseface. I know that trying to get an edge on the faceoff is gamesmanship and all part of the action - however, I have to think that tying each other up on the faceoff is still a penalty. Make the call morons, you had no problem doing just that during the 82 games that weren't quite so important and noticeable.

Game 3 with Buffalo in Ottawa tonight - this should make for a good gut-check for the Sabres because if they allow Ottawa to get rolling tonight in front of that rabid, raucous Canadian crowd this series could be in for an abrupt and rather shocking early finish. If we've learned anything from the Sabres, however, it's to never count them out.

One amusing announcers note: As the Wings-Ducks game jumped into overtime, the Versus crew made sure to highlight all the players who have scored game-winners in OT in the playoffs and made it a particular point to say, "Even Brad May has an overtime game-winner!"

For those of you who may have forgotten about Brad May's one moment in time, and if you're a Bruins fan you still curse him to this day, here - have a look for yourself. The call is courtesy of Sabres legendary play-by-play man Rick Jeanerette.

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