Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was thoroughly entertaining, complete with stupendous saves, wizardous passes, sick snipes, and gorgeous individual efforts, but it was not without controversy. After exchanging goals in the first 4 minutes, both teams seemed to pot their second goals of the game, only to have both of them immediately disallowed.
Predictably, Canucks fans were upset that Keith Ballard’s goal was disallowed and Toronto fans were upset that Phil Kessel’s goal was disallowed. While this is not an unexpected reaction, both groups of fans seemed to have a case.
Ballard’s goal was disallowed because Ryan Kesler was ruled to have interfered with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, preventing him from making the save. It appeared, however, that the contact was initiated by Gustavsson while Kesler was outside the crease and some even argued that the puck went in prior to the contact.
As for Kessel’s goal, it was disallowed because the net was dislodged. It was dislodged by Dan Hamhuis, however, and the NHL rulebook says that if a defending player dislodges the net, the goal should be allowed.
It seems that I’m going to have to be the one with the unpopular opinion that the referees actually got both calls right.
Keith Ballard’s Disallowed Goal
There are three things that Canucks fans (and the broadcasting team) took issue with. Glenn Healy and Craig Simpson first tried to say that the contact occurred after the puck was in the net, but they probably should have watched a replay first: the contact clearly occurs before the puck goes in. The other two complaints were that Gustavsson initiated the contact and that Kesler was outside the crease.
The relevant rule on this call is Rule 69 – Interference on the Goaltender. From 69.1:
The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
And from 69.3:
If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
As you can see, the two issues are interrelated. Gustavsson is certainly the one who initiated the contact, but that can still be considered goaltender interference if that contact was within the crease and “impair[ed] the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal.” If Kesler was outside the crease when the contact occurred, then Kesler is entitled to his space on the ice and it would only be goaltender interference if he initiated contact with Gustavsson.
So, was Kesler inside the crease? Well, yeah.
This is the overhead view from the moment Gustavsson attempts to go into his butterfly and slide to the right. His skate runs right into Kesler’s inside the crease, preventing him from “defending his goal.” It’s especially pertinent because the puck beat Gustavsson blocker side, exactly the side that he was prevented from sliding.
It’s textbook goaltender interference on incidental contact. The right call is to disallow the goal with no penalty.
Phil Kessel’s Disallowed Goal
The complaint is a simple one for Toronto fans: Dan Hamhuis is the one who dislodges the net, so the goal should be allowed. The issue is not, as the broadcast team on CBC suggested, whether the net was off its moorings before the puck went in; that’s irrelevant to this situation.
I even saw a few people claim that Hamhuis did it intentionally, though I would dispute that. The fact that he fell backwards over his own goalie into the net might suggest that he didn’t have a lot of control over what was going on. If the suggestion is that he knew Kessel was going to score and intentionally threw himself backwards over Luongo, I think you’re giving him a little too much credit: for all he knew, the puck was about to be cleared.
A goal will be awarded when an attacking player, in the act of shooting the puck into the goal (between the normal position of the posts and completely across the goal line), is prevented from scoring as a result of a defending player or goalkeeper displacing the goal post, either deliberately or accidentally.
Rule 63 goes into more detail on this situation. From 63.6:
In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee may award a goal.
In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions [of] a defending player or goalkeeper, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts.
We have already established that Hamhuis dislodged the net and the rule makes it clear that doing so accidentally still means the goal is allowed if it fits the other criteria. The key for this situation is the second paragraph under 63.6. The question is whether Kessel had already shot or was in the act of shooting “prior to the goal post being displaced.”
And the answer is no. He had not yet shot and was not yet shooting.
While I wish I had a better angle for this call, this is the moment the net was dislodged. You can see that the crossbar is no longer parallel with the goal line. You can also see that the puck has not even reached Kessel’s stick. Now Kessel has a lightning quick release on his shot and the puck is off his stick right away, but he did not take the shot prior to the net being dislodged and he was not yet shooting as the puck had not yet reached his stick.
This one was an extremely close call, but was ultimately the right one.
Tags: Analysis, Canucks, featured, Maple Leafs, Pissing off two fanbases at once, Unpopular opinions