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In the final minute of the third period last night, it looked like the Kings may have had too many men on the ice during a line change - but there was no call. It was pretty close to overtime, so it might have made a huge difference in the outcome of the game. Did you see it?
- Andrew R., Thornhill, ON
Yes I did see the 'uncalled' Kings too many men on the ice infraction with 21 seconds remaining in regulation time. Although there was no mention of the Kings violation of Rule 74 on either the NBC or CBC broadcasts you and I weren't the only ones that caught it Andrew, as I received a tweet from Greg Williams (one of my followers on Twitter) questioning the play as well.
For those that didn't observe it, let me share exactly what transpired. This too many men on the ice infraction committed by the Kings was as much of an "automatic call" as the one made a minute and three seconds earlier on Brian Boyle of the Rangers when he was penalized for a slash that broke the stick of Dwight King.
There was great end-to-end action and scoring opportunities for both teams with under a minute to play in regulation time that were only thwarted through superb saves by Jonathan Quick on Carl Hagelin and Henrik Lunqvist on a Jeff Carter wraparound. After some sustained pressure by the Kings following the Carter scoring opportunity, the puck exited the Rangers zone and beyond the centre red line off the skate of Hagelin. As Alec Martinez went back to retrieve the puck on the penalty box side of the ice, Drew Doughty sauntered toward the Kings bench on the opposite side of the ice for a change following another energized shift by the potential Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
With 22.7 seconds on the clock both Doughty and his replacement, Slava Voynov, were physically on the ice within five feet of the bench in what would determined as a legal line change as Martinez gained control of the puck midway between the red line and the Kings blue line. Two tenths of a second later (22.5) Martinez looked to his right and toward Voynov to throw a cross-ice pass. Voynov received the puck on his stick approximately 20 feet from his players' bench at 20.9 seconds on the clock and with both of Doughty's skates clearly on the ice and preparing to climb over the boards.
If we freeze frame it in this moment a clear violation of Rule 74.1 was committed requiring an immediate whistle and a bench minor assessed to the LA Kings for too many men on the ice. (Rule 74.1—If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface plays the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or the retiring player is actually on the ice, then the infraction of "too many men on the ice" will be called.)
Both linesmen appeared to have had unobstructed views from their respective positions to follow the line change, up to and including the point when Voynov played the puck while Doughty was still physically on the ice. Even though this is primarily a linesman's call to make, one of the referees was positioned near the Kings bench inside the blue line and might very well have had a sightline on the change at the bench. This "automatic" call was not made and Voynov carried the puck through the neutral zone and led the attack.
We can't be certain if a penalty call on this play would have changed the outcome of the game Andrew. What we can be certain of is that if a penalty had been called the teams would have played four-on-four until Brian Boyle's penalty expired 24 seconds into overtime - at which point the Rangers would have enjoyed the benefit of a power-play for one minute and sixteen seconds.