In a Friday game between the Rangers and the Bruins we saw an exhibition of everything that is right with Brad Marchand and wrong with the NHL’s current goalie interference rules. This not only proves the arguments of previous posts on the topic(see Today’s rules and why they’re ruining hockey ), it also proves I’m not biased against the Bruin Nova Scotia native.
In the first period Bergeron benefitted from some net play by Marchand, who cut across the top of the crease and accidentally/on purpose dragged the stick of Rangers goaltender King Henrik Lundqvist out of the way. Bergeron squeezed the puck through the bow vacated five hole for a goal. Marchand was clearly outside the blue paint, and Lundqvist was in the Bermuda Triangle of goaltender interference calls where part of his body was touching the crease and part of it was not. In almost any other game this year, this goal would have been called back. Through what must be the drawing of straws, the officials here decided that it was ok for Marchand to make obvious contact with the stick of Lundqvist and prevent him from making the save even though 14% of the goalie’s molecular make up was technically in the crease.
Fast forward to the third period and a 2-2 tie. On virtually the same path to the net from the same side at the same end of the rink, Marchand made his way across the top of the crease. Lundqvist ventured into the Triangle again, sticking his head out to get a good look around, and got an earful of Marchand’s knee. This time there was a defenceman following Marchand and yet he still did everything he could to stay out of the crease, and stay out he did. The puck didn’t even go in this time. However, the straw was short on this one and because 14% of Lundqvist’s molecular make up was in the crease. Marchand ended up in the sin bin for the mythical goalie interference.
Let’s take a step back and look at these calls for what they are using the NHL’s own definitions. First period, no defensive player limiting Marchand’s path, goalie half in and half out of the crease, obvious contact preventing a save, goal is scored, no call. Third period, defenseman definitely forcing Marchand’s path, goalie half in and half out of the crease, obvious contact preventing save, no goal is scored, penalty. This doesn’t even come close to making sense.
Neither of these SHOULD be interference. We have to allow players to get to the net and establish position in the white ice. As it is right now, a goalie can go pretty much anywhere in his own end and only needs to focus directly and entirely on the puck. If the NHL wants to increase scoring then maybe making a goalie have to focus on what might happen to him if decides to make a save outside the blue paint instead of solely on the puck would help. Instead of the ridiculous idea of making the nets bigger, keep the goalies from being so free to come out and take so much of the net and the angle away.
And the third period incident also brings up another inconsistency with the NHL regarding head shots. Wasn’t Marchand the one who got up and sucker punched Landeskog a couple weeks ago because he hit him too hard with what was deemed a blind side head shot? (see Landeskog penalized for hitting and Landeskog suspension “disappointing”) . The NHL and the majority of fans cried cheap shot. They demanded a suspension and got one. The NHL ruled that Marchand was eligible to be hit, should have expected a hit, and that Landeskog did nothing wrong with his shoulder, elbow, legs, or stick, and yet he was dinged two games because the main point of contact was the head. Now in the third period we have a goalie who by NHL standards was in a spot where he should not have expected to be hit and was not eligible to be hit. Marchand approaches from the blind side, or the exact same angle of approach as Landeskog did to him. His leg makes full, direct contact to Lundqvist’s head, and yet it’s only a 2 minute interference call. What’s the difference?
Verdict: Marchand did the right thing, and in fact the exact same thing, on both plays and shouldn’t have been penalized in either case. The randomness of goalie interference and blind side or head shot calls are a disgrace.