The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/21/13 at 04:24 PM ET
Update: Well, every reader says that I've got it wrong in my interpetation of Fraser's commentary, so...Readers are right?
Since the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane scored the 2-1 goal (in the Red Wings' 3-1 victory last night) after Johan Franzen was boarded at the opposite end of the ice by Niklas Hjamarsson, but were denied another when Viktor Stalberg's shot and game-tying goal on Jimmy Howard was negated because the referees deemed Andrew Shaw to be interfering with Jimmy Howard's ability to make a save, the media's pounced on the situation and has addressed the situation in predictable talking-out-of-the-ivory-tower-to-those-uninformed, biased-boobs-who-happen-to-pay-their-salaries fashion:
They've insisted that the referees' decision to allow Franzen to be boarded and play to continue is "part of the game," but that their similarly discretionary call regarding ye olde "coincidental interference," which Wings fans are far too familiar with thanks to Tomas Holmstrom's tenure with the team, has no place in the game, and that the denial of the Hawks' 2-2 goal was a great travesty marring the integrity of the game (with all the requisite tsk-tsking of Red Wings fans as biased and conspiratorial for daring to be subjective, and thus less-informed than superiorly impartial scribes, included)
As you might expect, former referee and TSN correspondent Kerry Fraser weighed in on the situation. Not-so-surprisingly, Fraser agrees with both refs' calls (or non-calls, as it were), [edit: though he leaves a significant margin for, "But, you could also suggest..." error]:
The Referee's decision to disallow Andrew Shaw's goal could be supported under the "letter of the law/rule"!
As I looked at this play (video link), the only contact between Jimmy Howard and Shaw was initiated by the Wings goalkeeper when he chopped at Shaw's skates a couple of times once the Hawk ventured into the top of the blue paint and in advance of the shot on goal. It is also true that there was minor contact between Shaw and the Detroit defenceman as the two players entered the goal crease. It might be worth noting that the Detroit defenceman sealed off any backdoor exit potential for Shaw if the Hawk considered this as an option; which is likely a reach for us to consider but none the less remotely plausible.
Since no contact was initiated or resulted from Andrew Shaw on Jimmy Howard, the single thread under which goalie interference could be determined (again the letter of the rule) is found in 69.3—If an attacking player establishes a significant position within the goal crease, so as to obstruct the goalkeeper's vision and impairs his ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed. For this purpose, a player "establishes a significant position within the crease" when, in the Referee's judgment, his body, or a substantial portion thereof, is with the goal crease for more than an instantaneous period of time.
I don't really believe that Jimmy Howard's vision was obstructed but it could be said that Andrew Shaw did establish a significant position within the crease. Since you mentioned Tomas Holmstrom, once he was flagged and put on the Ref's radar screen, I have seen more than one goal disallowed when Tomas had his skates clearly outside the blue paint but established a significant portion of his 'rear end' inside the crease and stuck in the face of the goalkeeper! Those calls surprised me at the time they were made. I felt they were an overreaction to the spirit and intent of the interference on the goalkeeper rule. I was likewise surprised by the decision last night to disallow Andrew Shaw's goal last night when Jimmy Howard made the initial save and the rebound deflected off Shaw and into the net.
I won't speculate as to whether the Referee was still thinking about a potential boarding call against Niklas Hjalmarsson nor whether the whistle could possibly have been blown prior to Patrick Kane's goal as Johan Franzen lay on the ice in a heap in the Chicago end zone until well after Kane's goal. Those potential questions could only be answered in the private thought process of the Referee.
What I will offer is that when Niklas Hjalmarsson struck Johan Franzen directly on the numbers of his back from close proximity to the end boards, a boarding infraction occurred. Since Franzen was able to put his hands up as protection against a full face-plant into the boards only a minor penalty for boarding was deserved.
Edit/update: the way I read it, Fraser was suggesting that the spirit of the rule was correct on the non-goal and that hey, the refs make discretionary calls, even if Franzen did get boarded. If I'm wrong I'm wrong. I guess it goes to show you that reading intent and reading intent aren't as easy as they seem.
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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.