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Flyers goal controversy: Bad call, bad rule or no gripe vs. Devils?

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

So what happened?

Did Scott Hartnell interfere with Martin Brodeur in his crease with 40 seconds to play on Tuesday night, stopping his momentum, hitting the goalie and forcing the puck free and over the goal line?

Was Hartnell pushed into Brodeur by defenseman Anton Volchenkov?

The end result was the Flyers failing to get a tying goal with less than a minute remaining against a division rival chasing them for a playoff seed, and losing 2-1 in regulation to the New Jersey Devils. Referee Tom Kowal waived it off based on goalie interference.

The NHL claimed:

At 19:20 of the third period in the New Jersey Devils/Philadelphia Flyers game, the Situation Room initiated a video review because the puck entered the New Jersey net. The referee informed the Situation Room that Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell pushed goaltender Martin Brodeur across the goal line with the puck. According to Rule 78.5 (ix) "Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save." This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no penalty and no goal Philadelphia.

Said Hartnell:

"Volchenkov put all his weight on me and I had to step on him. … I just tried to get it on net. You look at it 100 times and I'm pretty sure 100 times you're going to say it's a goal."

Said Jakub Voracek of the Flyers:

“That puck was under him,” Voracek said. “The playoffs are on the line and you make a call like that? It’s f------ incredible. Sorry for the language. But it’s a joke!”

… “When the buzzer went I was 100 percent sure it was going to be a goal,” said Voracek, who was on the ice at the time. “Hartsy was driving the net with Volchenkov. He didn’t go into Brodeur by himself. It was a battle for the loose puck. I can not believe it was not a goal.”

Said Brodeur:

“I’m sure anybody from the Flyers thought it’s not the right call, but as a goalie I think it’s something that you make a save and you don’t want nobody to push you to put the puck in the net at the same time,” Brodeur said. “I’m not saying that he did it purposely. I think his momentum kind of threw him into me. It didn’t warrant a penalty, that’s why they didn’t give him a penalty, but I think it’s the right call. They don’t call it a lot, though.”

Well, that’s where Marty’s wrong: They do call it. A lot. Goalies are on the endangered species list for NHL referees. Why did Lucic on Miller resonate so much a few years back? It’s because goalies are treated like porcelain in this league.

There’s a “let them play” aesthetic in tight games with playoff implications that make the NHL addictive this time of year. In this case, there are two players banging on the way to the crease. Contact is made with the goalie in the crease. The puck trickles in.

The X-factors on this play are the rebound Brodeur gives up and Volnchenkov’s pressure. In the latter case, there wasn’t much, but there might have been enough to claim Hartnell was pushed into the crease. In the former, Voracek’s argument is an interesting one: Who has ownership of a loose puck in front of the Devils’ goal? Because the ruling, it seems, is “tie goes to Broduer.”

It isn’t the steaming pile of crap that Tommy Wingels ‘intent to blow’ call was last night, as Dave Jackson pulled the Tim Peel special. But it could have used some further review.

Which is why it’ll be interesting to see what emerges from the GM meetings today, considering video review of goals and interference calls is at the forefront. It still would have likely been “no goal” for the Flyers based on the loosely drawn rule, but it was worth a look that the War Room currently couldn’t give it.

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