When general managers recommended that the NHL Situation Room resolve goaltender interference calls, the consensus was that shifting the burden to Toronto would make these rulings less controversial and more consistent.
Tuesday night at BB&T Center, Filip Forsberg’s overturned last-second goal, on the five-year anniversary of his trade from Washington, proved that no one is still quite sure 100 percent what constitutes goaltender interference or not.
Let me set the scene. Down 2-1 with seconds left on the clock, Predators defenseman Roman Josi unleashed a shot from just outside the faceoff circle. Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made the initial save, and the puck laid under his pads.
As Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson probed for a rebound, he nudged Luongo with his stick, causing the puck to slide back into daylight. Filip Forsberg crashed the net and scored with .7 seconds left to play.
The goal was reviewed in Toronto and a decision was made. Official Tim Peel announced the ruling.
“After video review, it has been determined that there was goaltender interference. No goal,” Peel said.
After the game, the NHL explained its decision, saying that “the deliberate actions of Arvidsson’s stick caused Luongo to spin and cause the covered puck to come loose prior to the goal.”
The Situation Room determined the deliberate actions of Arvidsson’s stick caused Luongo to spin and cause the covered puck to come loose prior to the goal. Rule 78.7 states in part: “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation Room (which shall include a former referee in the Officiating Department in the decision-making process), after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Referee who made the original call, determines that the goal should have been disallowed due to “Interference on the Goalkeeper,” as described in Rules 69.1, 69.3 and 69.4.”
Rule 69.1 (2) states that goals should be disallowed if “an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal.
In the visiting locker room, Forsberg was steamed.
“It’s a goal,” Forsberg said to The Tennessean’s Adam Vingan. “It’s got to be a goal. … I don’t know what’s going on. It’s so inconsistent that we don’t even know when it’s a goal or not, but this one was clearly a goal. The puck was never covered. The goalie had no clue where it (was), and it ends up on my tape and it’s in. And they somehow don’t think so. I disagree 100 percent.
“Either the refs don’t know or Toronto doesn’t know,” Forsberg said. “They’re definitely not on the same page because there’s so many different situations and similar situations, too, that get called both ways.”
While the Predators felt robbed, fans argued the call online. The ruling revealed the same problem that was plaguing the league before: there’s too much nuance in hockey to really ever make many of these calls definitive.
ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski argued that the NHL didn’t consider Keith Yandle’s role in the play.
Even if one believes Viktor Arvidsson’s stick spun Roberto Luongo around to jar the puck loose from under him, one can’t ignore Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle steering Arvidsson with a stick to the midsection, which is contact from a defensive player that would have negated the interference. Oh, wait, actually, the NHL did ignore it, calling Arvidsson’s actions “deliberate” in handing Florida the regulation win.
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette agreed with that assessment.
Coach Laviolette: “It was a tough call. We obviously feel it was [Panthers defenseman Keith] Yandle who caused the goalie to be disrupted. He got on the backside of [Viktor] Arvidsson and moved him, so we 100 percent disagree with the call.” #Preds
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) April 4, 2018
The play was a black eye for the league as it absorbed criticism from several of its most famous fans on social media. Carrie Underwood and Kiefer Sutherland penned negative tweets.
I am seriously livid. @NHL , fix this.
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) April 4, 2018
— Kiefer Sutherland (@RealKiefer) April 4, 2018
After the game, Roberto Luongo didn’t understand what the fuss was about.
Luongo: “It’s pretty clear. I don’t know why they were complaining so much. I guess I would complain too.”
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) April 4, 2018
From Lou’s perspective it may have been “pretty clear,” but many players on the Preds felt jobbed. To me, the league still has more work to do.
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