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I really enjoy following your columns and learning more about rule clarifications. I have a question about Thursday night's game between the St. Louis Blues and the Phoenix Coyotes. In the third period with around a minute left the Blues were leading by one when Alex Pietrangelo appeared to be run from behind by a Coyotes player during a play in the corner.
The ensuing play ultimately would lead to the game being tied as the puck popped free in the slot and Phoenix scored.
What's your take on the hit and should there have been a call made on the play?
Thanks Kerry, all the best.
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Love the column sir. Question for you...how in the world do you justify the no calls on Ekmam-Larsson and Hanzal along with the borderline call on Backes?
Do refs get caught up in the narrative or the excitement? How does a tight game get called that inconsistently within the span of minutes?
Rapid City, SD
Why does it seem that the NHL referees will almost go out of their way to call a penalty against the team winning a close one goal game near the end of the game?
Or avoid calling a blatant penalty near the end of a tied game?
It seems to be common place in all sports. For example, the Blues-Coyotes game. Boarding is not called earlier in the game when the Blues' Sobotka is hit head first into the boards. In the last few minutes of the game with the Blues up 1-0, David Backes gets called for boarding to give Phoenix a power play.
No roughing calls made on the two Phoenix players for retaliating against Backes. The Coyotes score on the power play after a clear boarding by Phoenix on Alex Pietrangelo is let go and the Blues (including Elliott) almost stop playing, expecting a penalty call. The refs inconsistency there definitely impacted the outcome of the game.
Is this taught, human nature or what?
To put things into perspective on the non-call you ask about Joseph, we need to back up with 2:16 remaining in regulation time when David Backes of the Blues was assessed a boarding penalty for hitting Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the end boards. (Backes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcmzGOllVVI)
The real-time optics of this play gave every indication to the Referee (and most everyone else watching) that David Backes was guilty of boarding Ekman-Larsson. I have no problem with the call on the ice since it took a replay to demonstrate that Ekman-Larson was contacted on his shoulder and popped out of the hit sideways and not directly into the boards from behind.
The "big-bang theory" resulted when both David Perron attacked from close range in front of the net while Backes had a longer straight run from the right slot. The two Blues players simultaneously converged on Ekman-Larsson. It was Perron's inside lane body position that prevented Backes from making full contact with the Coyotes young star defenceman and provided a somewhat obstructed view for the Referee who raised his arm immediately.
A pack of Coyotes then piled on Backes and Derek Morris was very fortunate he did not receive a roughing penalty for two short jabs with his gloves off that he delivered to David Backes in the scrum. None the less a boarding penalty was assessed to Backes from the Referee's real-time look on the opposite side of the net along the goal line. Blues up 1-0 and on the penalty kill.
Now to your question when Martin Hanzal hit Alex Pietrangelo from behind into the boards with just over 1:07 remaining. The Coyotes utilized a two man advantage with goalie Chad Johnson on the bench for an extra attacker and Backes in the penalty box. The Referee had good position and an open view of the hit from behind by Hanzal on Peitrangelo. For some reason this Referee deemed it not to be a penalty. I disagree with this judgment.
Alex Pietrangelo was off the end boards and square to them with puck possession. He did not significantly adjust his body position prior to the hit similarly to the way that Vladimir Sobotka turned at the last second prior to being hit into the boards by Kyle Chipchurla earlier in the game. As a result of Sobotka's last second turn toward the boards no penalty was warranted to Chipchurla as stated in rule 41.1. (Sobotka: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB7lk0490yQ)
Martin Hanzal made solid contact directly from behind which caused Alex Pietrangelo to be thrown head first into the boards. This was a boarding infraction that should have been called. As both Peitrangelo fell forward into the end boards with Martin Hanzal on top the the Blues defenceman, Hanzal bunted the puck with the back of his glove (hand pass) to Oliver Ekman-Larsson as both players earned an assist on the tying goal by Radim Vrbata. (The slashes that Pietrangelo administered to Hanzal following the hit would also be deemed infractions under normal circumstance.)
Following the game, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock crossed the ice to lodge a protest with the Referees instead of making his way to the Blues dressing room through the runway directly behind his players' bench. Coach Hitchcock was awarded a game misconduct in the penalty summary which would result in a written report by the Officials following the game.
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