If anyone that is reading this article lives in southwest Madison and has young children, I apologize for teaching them some new words tonight. I had, shall we say, an unpleasant reaction to another example of stunning incompetance by the NHL and its officials tonight.
With the score 0-0 late in the second period of Game 4 between the Red Wings and Stars, Datsyuk put a shot past Turco to give Detroit the lead. Or so we thought. Kelly Sutherland immediately waived the goal off, saying that Tomas Holmstrom interfered with Turco's ability to make the save--that his butt was in the crease. How can I put this gently....Sutherland was completely and utterly WRONG. Holmstrom was clearly outside the crease and Turco, despite his comments to the contrary, had every chance to make the save. The only bit of "interfering" that Holmstrom did was blocking Turco's view, which is kind of his job (and completely legal provided he's not in the crease or going Sean Avery on the goalie).
To add to the hilarity, the Stars scored just a couple minutes later when Loui Eriksson showed everybody what it really means to be in the crease. Not surprisingly--especially with Dan O'Halloran down at that end of the ice--no one seemed to care that he was basically on top of Osgood, or that they had waived off a goal for a man in the crease just a few moments earlier.
Where my anger at the NHL comes in is that the play with Holmstrom was not reviewable. Now, wait a minute....the NHL war room in Toronto reviews every single goal that is scored to make sure that it shouldn't be waived off, but a scenario exists where they can't review the flip side of that? The technology is there, the league clearly embraces video replay considering they've set up a system where every goal in every game is reviewed by a central location, and we're not letting them take a look at a call like that?
What's even more maddening is that this is at least the third time Holmstrom has had a goal waived off in the same fashion. Sure, there are plenty of times where his actions have warranted goals being waived off--one even happened in Game One and was ignored (and I'd really prefer that make-up calls not take place in a 0-0 game when the original would-be infraction made a game 3-0)--but this wasn't one of them. Nor was the would-be game-tying goal that Detroit scored against Anaheim late in the regular season. Good ole Dan O'Halloran was the person who effed up that ruling.
It is nice to know, however, that the NHL finally realized that they shouldn't allow goals to stand when the player simply knocks the goalie into the net with the puck as Datsyuk did with about 7 minutes to go. I fully acknowledge that that goal shouldn't have counted. I just wish Rob Schick was smart enough to realize it during Game Two of the conference final last year.
I don't suppose the mainstream media will make as big of a deal about Datsyuk's waived off goal as they did about Chauncey Billups's three-pointer which he had time to make due to the clock malfunction in Game Two of the Detroit/Orlando series. I mean, after all, that was three points in a game where the two teams combined for 193 and somehow that blown call was made out to be the sole deciding factor in the game.
The controversy tonight involved a goal in a game where the teams combined for four tallies and Datsyuk's shot was, without question, good. To put things in perspective, Datsyuk's goal being waived off accounted for 20% of the points which should have been scored in the game (one goal out of five). The damage to the Red Wings by having that goal waived off would be the equivalent of the damage to Orlando had Chauncey's shot counted for 38 points. The point is that it's really hard to score in hockey and, if we're waiving off goals, maybe we should make sure we get the call right.
A quick aside: It's also worth mentioning that Orlando got a call in their favor last night that was even more egregious than the one that went Detroit's way in Game Two. Bogans dribbled the ball out of bounds with about a minute and a half left in the game and Detroit up by four. No official noticed the ball hitting the sideline, even though pretty much every fan in the front row did. Orlando retained possession and Bogans missed a runner. Prince grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled. The blown call didn't end up costing the Pistons, but it could have. Orlando went on to pull the game within one before having to start fouling after Detroit got an offensive rebound. But what if Bogans had made that shot? It's very possible Orlando would have won that game, largely in part because of a possession they didn't deserve very, very late in the game.
Stan Van Jeremy won't mention the huge break that went his way. The national media won't mention it either. But that three pointer that Billups hit? That cost Orlando Game Two by God. Never mind the fact that Billups still had to make the shot. And never mind the fact that had the clock been working properly, it's very likely Detroit would have still gotten a good look at the basket. Just not the same look. What it comes down to is that when they got an opportunity, the Pistons executed and the Magic didn't.
Back to hockey, I don't know that the call by Sutherland cost Detroit the game tonight. Dallas played their best game of the series. Turco played his best game of the series. And the Wings are back to being a one-line team with Franzen out of the lineup. The momentum of the game changed with that call, but Detroit had plenty of time to make it a non-factor and they didn't succeed. I just think it's asinine that a game-changing call like the one we saw tonight can be made without using the technology that the league has clearly embraced.
Why are they allowed to examine whether the puck was batted in with a high-stick or if the puck was kicked into the net? Those seem like very similar issues and the league goes upstairs to review them all the time. It seems really strange to me that reviewing if a player's butt was in the crease is a big no-no. Especially when the outcome of a review could fix an incorrect, potentially-game-changing call.
Then again, why am I surprised? This is the NHL. This is the same league that for the entire 1998-99 season waived off any goal where a player so much as had a toe in the crease and then allowed the Stanley Cup to be awarded on such a goal. Nothing they do should shock me anymore.
NHL, make the rule change. You were quick to outlaw Avery's actions. It's high time to allow the league office to review goalie interference/man in the crease calls so your dung-for-brains officals don't screw any more of them up. And while you're at it, make it reviewable as to if the puck hit the protective netting out of play.