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Blues’ anger at Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard has to do with who he punched, not a ‘running’ problem

During the Red Wings’ 3-2 loss to St. Louis on Tuesday, both Blues goalie Brian Elliott and Wings goalie Jimmy Howard were engaged in collisions which resulted in goaltender interference penalties:

Because of the fact that we’re talking about goalies getting hit here—and it seems as if players have started to exploit the fact that the one thing Brendan Shanahan won’t automatically suspend a player for is running into a goaltender—the issue left the Blues’ press in something of a tizzy, but the fact that Howard also went unpunished when he chose to take matters into his own hands, and very specifically chose to punch David Perron, who’s just returned from a year’s worth of post-concussion symptoms, left both Perron and the Blues particularly sore about the incident, as they told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy RUtherford:

“It’s a quick play, bang-bang, and I tipped it on goal,” Perron said. “(Howard) slides across. I think at least half of his body was outside the crease. I’m trying to avoid him but (Stuart) pushed me into him. I understand the goalies want to have that security in the net, not to get hit, but when you get pushed in, it’s tough to avoid contact.”

Perron was playing only his second game back after 10 1/2 months off with a concussion, and like fans who winced when Howard was throwing punches, so was No. 57.

“I was just trying to protect myself because obviously I didn’t want to get one in the head or something,” Perron said.

That drew more players over, but there were no fights. When the dust settled, Perron skated to the penalty box with the lone penalty. He couldn’t believe that Howard was penalized.

“To be honest, I’m surprised he didn’t get an extra penalty for that,” Perron said. “Because their d-man pushed me in, and then he jumps on me. At the end of the game, it should at least be even. It’s tough because they scored a big goal. If it’s only 2-1 for us, and they tie it up, then we have to fight back from a call like that. But in the end, we move on.”

At the other end of the ice, Blues goalie Brian Elliott said he watched the situation in amazement. Earlier in the period, Elliott was knocked in the head by Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader, who received a charging penalty.

“Howard jumps on and doesn’t get a penalty for it?” Elliott said. “I asked the ref on the ice if I could do the same thing if I got hit again. I don’t know ... that’s why I think you need to keep fighting in the game because you almost need to police yourself out there.”

These comments got the gears in Rutherford’s head turning, so he penned a column specifically about the spate of goalie-running incidents this morning.

From a Red Wings perspective, what might matter to you and me is the fact that it’s Elliott who’s suggesting that the Wings played “run and gun” hockey when it came to not respecting his territory, and got away with it. In doing so, however, Elliott does make a point, and advance the larger conversation:

On Wednesday, Elliott said another incident in the third period resulted in no penalty and perhaps went undetected by most.

“I got hit, knocked back, and I swiped the puck off the goal line,” Elliott said. “The ref was right there and he said, ‘It wouldn’t have counted anyway.’ So, well, if it wouldn’t count, then it’s goalie interference, so why doesn’t he get a penalty right now? You don’t really know what goalie interference is. You don’t know what constitutes it. Guys get pushed in on you and the ref just says, ‘It’s your guy, it’s your guy’ and play goes on. It has to be better defined. I don’t know if (the penalties) are going up, or with all of the head injuries, it’s just more noticeable now ...”

It’s most certainly a puzzling question, especially—as Wings fans know when Tomas Holmstrom’s doing his job very legally and goaltenders “sell” interference that negates goal—given that goaltenders no longer merely inhabit their creases when stopping pucks:

“Maybe it’s a case of the goalies are out of their crease a little more,” Blues captain David Backes said. “There’s extra incentive to get in front of them and then they’re coming out to take away the angle and there’s some contact. I don’t think (the interference calls) are an epidemic. It’s just part of the game ... guys playing hard and goalies are hockey players, too. They’re tough kids.”

Backes’ comment more or less summarizes why I can understand what Howard did, why Elliott’s angry, and why the Blues very specifically felt particularly slighted because Howard wasn’t penalized for punching a player with a history of concussions in the head while defending his territory.

As Rutherford points out in his first article, Brad Stuart felt as conciliatory about the collision as Howard somewhat understandably defiant, saying this about Perron’s gumption..

“I’m not taking that,” Howard said. “If you’re going to run me like that or try to go through me like that, you’re going to pay the price.”

But if we can hold onto our tinfoil and try to exclude our collective Wings fans’ issues with anything remotely constituting goaltender interference given what Holmstrom has to withstand as part of “battling” in front of the net, and very literally take a beating without retaliating because he is who he is, Rutherford and Ken Hitchcock make a very good point:

“You could call that (Perron penalty) 10 times a week now,” he said. “I don’t know what you can do about that stuff. Every time you turn on the TV, you’re watching Brendan Shanahan. I was thinking as I was driving home one night. In one sportscast, I watched Shanahan (discuss) Jordin Tootoo six times. It just goes viral. It’s a call you’ve got to make, but the video becomes all the news for how many days? That’s the part that upsets me.”

Hell, Paul more or less has to post three or four controversial hits every night because, as a news website, we have to talk about what people are talking about, but there is a question as to whether our instantaneous access to multiple camera angles’ worth of video depicting hits that nobody is ever going to objectively agree on as to “what happened” or who should have been penalized because we’re subjective human beings—and partisan fans on top of that—yields nothing but more disagreement when…

How do I want to put this? Referees and players themselves have to make quick judgment calls and react to these hits based upon equally bias and situation-influenced interpretations of extremely limited information. Refs and players obviously “get it wrong” pretty damn regularly, and it sucks that the outcomes of games tend to hinge upon nebulous interpretations of (particularly in cases of goaltender interference) nebulous rules, but it is the nature of the beast, and in that sense, I do understand what O’Neill’s trying to get at.

Put bluntly, when so much of what constitutes goaltender interference and/or “running” goalies versus players legitimately battling for and/or defending territory that’s supposed to be theirs, a little clarification wouldn’t hurt. It shouldn’t take punches to a concussion-prone player’s head or Lucic running Miller and getting away with it to prompt a straight explanation, but that’s how the game works, for better or worse.

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Comments

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So, well, if it wouldn’t count, then it’s goalie interference, so why doesn’t he get a penalty right now?

Hasn’t Elliott been in the league for a while?  He really doesn’t know the rule?

Posted by Garth on 12/08/11 at 10:50 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t give two shits about the opinion of a guy who took a flop as embarrassing and egregious as Elliott did after Abdelkader made contact with him.

Hilarious that the idiot Blues are asking for a penalty on Howard after TWO Blues players jumped on Abdelkader and did the same thing Howard did to their precious little snowflake Perron (who knew where he was and used the contact with Brad Stuart as an excuse to run into Howard).

If they want penalties in that scrum called correctly then give two to Howard, two to Perron, two to Franzen, and either four or five to Chris Stewart, who threw more punches at Johan Franzen (another guy who has suffered concussions and, by the Blues’ rule, should be extra-protected from punches), than Howard threw at Perron.

Even in victory, the Blues whine like the bitter little bitches they are.  What a disgusting team.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 11:06 AM ET

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I think you miss a major point…forget that it was Perron…it could’ve been anyone.  A player is down on his back and a goalie wallops him; and there is NO call.  So, taking the call further,  any player who gets pushed into a goalie is fair game to be hit by the goalie.  I don’t think so.  It was a missed and botched call by the ref plain and simple.  No problem with the call on Perron even tho’ he was pushed.

Posted by tami on 12/08/11 at 11:11 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Then why didn’t the two Blues players who jumped Abdelkaders also get penalties?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 11:19 AM ET

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Please, you should know that:  Abdelkader was not on his back; anyone who comes near a goalie gets roughed up in a game one way or another.. And if that roughing is deemed too much by the refs they get a penalty. 
I’m SURE the Blues would’ve gotten a penalty if the refs thought Abdelkader was roughed too much; refs have no problem doling those out to the Blues.  It’s the position that Perron was in - ie: helpless; on back that is the key here.  You can’t attack someone in a helpless position.  Stewart and Franzen got what they deserved in this situation.  The only person that got off was Howard - and it sets a bad precedent.  The concussion or players involved aren’t the issue.

Posted by tami on 12/08/11 at 11:29 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Hahaha.  Ridiculous.  Abdelkader was on his stomach when he got jumped.  What a stupid thing to say.  You’re MORE defenseless on your stomach than your back. 

I’m SURE the Blues would’ve gotten a penalty if the refs thought Abdelkader was roughed too much

Yeah, and I’m SURE Howard would have gotten a penalty if the refs though precious little Perron had gotten roughed too much.  He apparently didn’t.

Stewart threw SIX punches at Franzen before Franzen threw one.  Then Stewart threw another two.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 11:34 AM ET

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A player is down on his back and a goalie wallops him; and there is NO call.

Yeah, and you seem to have missed the point that he RAN THE GOALIE.

anyone who comes near a goalie gets roughed up in a game one way or another.. And if that roughing is deemed too much by the refs they get a penalty.

Then why are you calling for a penalty on Howard?  Just because he reacted to getting hit instead of someone else reacting to it?

Wow, good on the hypocrisy, wanna keep digging the hole deeper?

Posted by Garth on 12/08/11 at 12:05 PM ET

Bent's avatar

I guess Howard’s appropriate action should have been to snap back violently and lay on the ice in the worst pain he has ever been in for 30 seconds, then miraculously recover and be ready for the next face off.  That’s how goalies are supposed to react, right?

Don’t want to get your ass kicked?  Don’t run the goalie.

Posted by Bent from The U.P. on 12/08/11 at 12:22 PM ET

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You can’t attack someone in a helpless position.

I guess the protocol, then, is to take leaping elbows aimed directly at heads and then lay on your back and nobody’s allowed to touch you.

Posted by Garth on 12/08/11 at 12:56 PM ET

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There were three penalties called, not the one that a lot of people seem to thing. Perron was called for the goaltender interference everyone talks about. But Stewart and Franzen also got offsetting minors for roughing. Now I don’t know if everyone watched the same game as I did, but it looked to me like Franzen got punched in the head by Stewart, but I did not see Franzen roughing up Stewart. So the referees got the call wrong and Howard should have gotten a roughing penalty instead of Franzen; same result.

If you want to complain about bad calls, talk about Miller’s high-sticking penalty in the first, where it was clearly a Blues player’s stick on replay. Is there any reason to still not let the referees see the video?

As for interference with goalkeeper rule, under all circumstances when there is interference, a goal scored is disallowed, but a penalty is only assessed if an “attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease.” I wouldn’t say that Perron intentionally, deliberately hit Howard, but that is rarely how the rule is actually called—or the referees just don’t see the play as well as we’d like to believe.

Abdelkader’s penalty was deserved, whether or not Elliott also dove.

Posted by bleep bloop on 12/08/11 at 02:28 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Now I don’t know if everyone watched the same game as I did, but it looked to me like Franzen got punched in the head by Stewart, but I did not see Franzen roughing up Stewart.

No, we were watching the same thing.  Stewart threw three rights and then three more little rabbit-punch lefts to Franzen before Franzen threw a wild right at Stewart, After that, Stewart threw two more rights at Franzen.

I don’t mind Franzen getting a roughing call for throwing a gloved punch, but to say that what Stewart did and what Franzen did were equal is ridiculous.  Stewart should have gotten a double-minor to Franzen’s minor.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 02:42 PM ET

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Abdelkader’s penalty was deserved, whether or not Elliott also dove.

What Abdelkader “did” was basically the definition of incidental contact.  Abdelkader was skating in and Elliott threw his body out there to cover the puck.

Posted by Garth on 12/08/11 at 02:59 PM ET

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1) As I have long asked its time to allow players to make “legal contact” with goalies who wander outside their crease and play the puck. No, they shouldn’t be boarded and have their heads targeted, but should be able to be hit like Lucic did to Miller, who was well outside of his crease, and took it upon himself to play the puck.
2) Too often we have seen goalies use the fact that referees protect them like sacred cows to go out of their net to play the puck with impunity. We believe that is why the dumb trapezoid rule was implemented. Goalies like Brodeur were feeling quite comfortable to go and become a third defensemen thus the league decided to increase scoring they needed to reign in the ability of goalies to play the puck as much.

Posted by Fauxrumors on 12/08/11 at 03:49 PM ET

YYZerman's avatar

“I was just trying to protect myself because obviously I didn’t want to get one in the head or something,” Perron said.

Something tells me that if you’re worried about getting another concussion that bad you probably shouldn’t be playing ice hockey. Crap, you shouldn’t be driving if you’re that worried about a hit to the head. I wonder if he’s thinking about that every time he goes into the corner or skates accross center ice. Go play pro golf if you don’t want to get punched.

Posted by YYZerman from Detroit, Michigan on 12/08/11 at 05:33 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I’m tired of this crap.  If goalies aren’t fair game for light or incidental contact, bring back the crease rule.  If not, take your lumps and quit your bitchin.’  You take your chances when you go in on a goaltender.  If that fish faced pussy David Perron wants to dish it out, he should be man enough to take it.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/08/11 at 06:51 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If that fish faced pussy David Perron wants to dish it out, he should be man enough to take it.

I had struggled with the proper set of adjectives to describe David Perron and you just solved my problem.

Well-done, sir.  +19

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 06:56 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 12/08/11 at 03:56 PM ET

Happy to serve my good sir.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 12/08/11 at 06:58 PM ET

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These Red Wings fans are idiots.  Truly.

Posted by Johnson on 12/08/11 at 07:53 PM ET

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Jimmy Howard is the only Wing who plays chippy and initiates any kind of real aggression. Is it any wonder that Howard is always the one “going after” an opposing player? To me this is no different than a team who’s fate has been decided in a game taking a few liberties with their opponent. It happens. It’s just that in the case of the Wings, the goddamn GOALIE has to do the dirty work because the roster is loaded with softies who play within a system that, evidently, adheres to the saying “turn the other cheek…and then the other…and then just bend over and take it like a champ.”

I wish Howard would punch more players…starting with Johan Franzen.

Posted by godblender on 12/08/11 at 09:22 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.