Over the weekend, Detroit Red Wings fans learned two big things, with their team playing a back-to-back over the course of Friday and Saturday nights. The first thing is that their team still has the habit playing down to their opposition, as they did in their 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes Friday night.
The second thing is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I’m of course referring to Brendan Gallagher’s goal against Detroit Saturday night in the Montreal Canadiens’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings, where he guided the puck with his skates into Petr Mrazek, and forced it through the goalie pad and into the net. The goal was reviewed by the War Room in Toronto, but the only thing they looked for, and were allowed to look for, was whether or not there was a distinct kicking motion before the puck entered the net. (Along with whether pucks are gloved in or batted in with a high-stick, neither of which applied to this situation.) There wasn’t, so the call on the ice stood as a good goal. The most intriguing part though, is that Jeff Blashill didn’t use his coach’s challenge on the play to check for goaltender interference. Apparently there was a reason why.
From Elliotte Friedman’s piece on SportsNet:
Go back and listen to referee Dave Jackson’s explanation. The last few words are buried in the crowd’s cheers, but he says, “After video review, the puck entered the net in legal fashion, before contact. The goal is good.”
The broadcast showed angles that disputed the puck going in first. Blashill’s probably being told, “Challenge, challenge.” But, if the referee is saying contact happened after the goal, you have to believe you’re not going to win. Don’t bother wasting your timeout.
Suddenly, Detroit’s punt makes sense. Watching live, I assumed the game was already delayed by the first review and someone was trying to prevent a second, meaningless slowdown by warning the Wings, “Don’t bother. It doesn’t end well for you.”
What he’s basically saying is that the official may or may not have told Blashill after the review that yes, the puck entered the net before contact with the goaltender was made. Which if that were the case, the Red Wings using their challenge would have been completely in vain and they would have burned up their timeout for nothing. The interesting thing is that there’s nothing saying that you can’t ask the on-ice official about the order of events concerning a goaltender interference call. So if you can, why wouldn’t you? Why burn up your challenge and your timeout hoping that the call goes your way, when you can simply nonchalantly ask the official if there was contact before the puck entered the net, no harm no foul?
The question this raises is if this diminishes the value and efficacy of the coach’s challenge. Will we see a rise in coaches simply conversing with on-ice officials after questionable goals or calls or non-calls instead of just using their challenge as intended? We may see a couple of more tweaks to the rule book down the line if the answer to the previous question turns out to be yes.
This does not take away from the Canadiens’ win, though. Detroit managed a single goal on the night, courtesy of Dylan Larkin (2), and the defense looked sloppy all night. Montreal took advantage and reaped the rewards. But it is still an interesting point to think about moving forward in the season.