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In which NHL referees overprotect Cam Ward, ignore James Reimer and rob the San Jose Sharks

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

There were three situations on Tuesday night involving National Hockey League goaltenders and poor, borderline terrible decisions by the on-ice officials.

Let's start in San Jose, where the Sharks were simply robbed of a game-winning overtime goal against the Calgary Flames through an indefensible call by the referees:

As the video shows, Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks goes to the top the crease and jabs Miikka Kiprusoff in the pad with this stick. Olli Jokinen then shoves his own goaltender, knocking him off-balance. Justin Braun scored moments later … and the goal was waived off due to "goalie interference."

What a joke. The Hockey Gods gave the Sharks justice, as they won in the shootout.

Via CSN Bay Area, Sharks Coach Todd McLellan:

"First of all, they have a tough job to do. Let me start with the good stuff. After that, you have to make sure that if you're going to make that call you have to be 100 percent sure," McLellan said.

"What I don't understand is the positioning of it. The referee that's 85 or 90 feet away makes the call when one is only 15 feet away. Obviously, we can come in here and look at the replay and see that it was not the right call. They don't have that luxury."

It's a non-reviewable play, which is something we've lobbied against on this very blog for years. Reviewing every goalie interference play might be overkill. Giving coaches one challenge each game for B.S. calls like this — with the game on the line, no less — is the fair, equitable thing to do when good goals are being kept off the board.

(Of course, after the fumble decision in the Giants/Packers game, all bets are off; maybe the War Room would claim Wingels' stick caused the interference.)

Meanwhile, there was more malarkey for the Leafs and Penguins.

Here's the second goal by the Ottawa Senators in their win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kaspars Daugavins kicked the puck off Jason Spezza's stick and behind James Reimer:

As you can see, it was a rather easy goal for the Senators to score, what with Jason Spezza sitting on Reimer. A few seconds longer, and Reimer would have been legally obligated to ask him what he wanted for Christmas.

Said Reimer to NHL.com:

"I felt that on the first two goals I was interfered with and I didn't have a chance to make the save," said Reimer, who was playing his first game since Dec. 31. "That was the frustrating part."

Well, yeah.

Again, a coach's challenge might have made a difference here. So why don't we have one yet? Simple: For the most part, the power brokers in the NHL want to (a) allow for some bumping and jostling of goaltenders because (b) it can lead to more goals.

Goalie interference? Makes goals happen. Coaches' Challenge? Takes goals away. Not exactly rocket surgery here ...

Finally, from the Pittsburgh Penguins' game against the Carolina Hurricanes, this nonsense:

Cam Ward's mask breaks, and he decides to whip it off his noggin during play. The referees blow the play dead as Tyler Kennedy is preparing to fire on goal … which he does, sparking a scrum.

In fact, Ward should have been penalized. From the NHL Rule Book, Section 9.5:

When a goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask and his team has possession of the puck, the play shall be stopped immediately to allow the goalkeeper the opportunity to regain his helmet and/or face mask. When the opposing team has possession of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity. This stoppage of play must be made by the Referee. When play is stopped because the goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask, the ensuing face-off shall take place at one of the defending team's end zone face-off spots.

When a goalkeeper deliberately removes his helmet and/or face mask in order to secure a stoppage of play, the Referee shall stop play as outlined above and in this case assess the goalkeeper a minor penalty for delaying the game. If the goalkeeper deliberately removes his helmet and/or face mask when the opposing team is on a breakaway, the Referee shall award a penalty shot to the non-offending team. If the goalkeeper deliberately removes his helmet and/or face mask during the course of a penalty shot or shootout attempt, the Referee shall award a goal to the non-offending team.

A similar situation happened with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. In that case, the officials stopped play too. In this case, Kennedy was clearly in possession of the puck with an "immediate and impending scoring chance." And yet, the play was whistled dead.

So, in summary: What the [expletive] did James Reimer do to not get a call on Tuesday night? Be too young? Wear a Leaf? Fail to be an All-Star starter? Help us out here ...

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