Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hi Kerry, happy you're back answering questions this year.
My question today is with the goalie interference calls the refs have been making. On Sunday, Tomas Plekanec just got called for it but you can clearly see him as he comes down the middle at the top of the circles tries to stop, but the Sens player pushes him all the way into Craig Anderson? At what point is it the defensive players fault?
Louis in Airdrie
Hi Mr. Fraser,
I was watching Super Bowl Sunday's game between Montreal and Ottawa. My question comes after one play where a goal was disallowed when Jakob Silfverberg brushed Carey Price prior to the puck going in. My question to you, as Silfverberg and Price were clearly outside the crease when contact occurred, why do we still have a crease if the referees are going to call penalties on bystanders outside of the blue paint?
Absolutely loved the book,
Andrew and Louis:
I fully endorse the overriding rationale of Rule 69 - Interference on the Goalkeeper which states that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. In the spirit of this rule, every referee will tend to err more on the side of protecting the goalkeeper whether contact has resulted inside or outside of the goal crease.
That being said, it is important for the referees to correctly identify criteria listed in the rule that allow for the legal scoring of a goal when he determines the contact to be "incidental" in nature or through the actions of a defending player. It is also important to note that even when these forms of contact with the goalkeeper occur, the attacking player must make a reasonable effort to avoid such contact as stated in the rule.
As we move through the third week of the NHL season, there have been a number of incidents involving contact with the goalkeeper. Some resulted in penalties being assessed or goals disallowed, while in other cases the contact was deemed incidental and goals were allowed to stand. This will already be the third question of the day for C'mon Ref to answer that involves goalkeeper interference.
I acknowledge, as most of you have, that this call can really be a tough one for any referee to correctly make given the speed and traffic jams that occur as players crash the net. I have harped on the fact that Referees' positioning and the resulting sightline gained is the overriding factor in making the correct judgment. In too many instances the Refs are not reading the play in advance and moving their feet to gain the best possible sightline. This is a "bread and butter" call for NHL Referees that can impact a game similarly to pass interference in the end zone of an NFL game or Super Bowl! There needs to be better instruction/accountability from the Officiating Department in this critical area before the shortened NHL season gets any shorter.
Let me provide you with my ruling on the two goalkeeper interference penalties that were called on Super Bowl Sunday in the Ottawa-Montreal game.
There might have been some desire by the Referee to set a firm standard on avoiding contact with the goalkeeper just 24 seconds into the game (video link - incident 12 seconds in) when Tomas Plekanec lightly bumped into Craig Anderson. I viewed the play differently on my first look and would not have assessed a penalty. As Plekanec was moving toward the top of the goal crease through the middle of the ice, the stick of Sens defenceman Kyle Turris was placed through the legs of the Montreal forward.
This opened Plekanec's stride/skate position and reduced Plekanec's ability to stop with both skates. Plekanec's one legged stop with pressure still being applied by Turris resulted in a light bump with Craig Anderson. After receiving the contact, Anderson used it to his full advantage and bumped backward into the crossbar and knocked the net off its moorings.
At this point, I would have blown the whistle for the net being dislodged and no penalty would be assessed. The resulting faceoff would occur in the Sens' end zone on the dot to the left of goalie Craig Anderson. My rational for this is that the application of Kyle Turris's stick between the legs of Tomas Plekanec prevented the Montreal player from executing a full and effective stop prior to the light contact on Anderson. I believe Plekanec made a "reasonable effort to avoid such contact." In addition, the net was dislodged through some embellishment by Anderson and therefore the faceoff would remain in the Ottawa end zone.
At the other end of the ice, I would have allowed the Senator goal (video link) to stand when Carey Price moved to establish a position well outside of his goal crease and in the process "incidental" contact resulted with Jakob Silfverberg. The Ottawa Sens forward was fronting the puck and positioned at least two to three feet outside of Price's goal crease.
As the shot came toward the goal, Silfverberg turned with the shot resulting in incidental contact between himself and Carey Price. The contact was initiated more by Carey Price than the actions of Silfverberg. Rule 69.1 supports this decision where it states, "Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."
I believe Carey Price was the second most surprised player on the ice, after Jakob Silfverberg of course, when the Referee disallowed this goal and assessed a goalie interference penalty on the play.
Not a stellar night for contact in and around the goal crease. Fortunately, there was no pass interference to call.