Will NHL crack down on sneaky goalies dislodging net?

Curtis McElhinney admits to it. Then again, it’s hard to imagine an NHL goalie that wouldn’t.

“It used to be a lot easier to do,” said the veteran Columbus Blue Jackets goalie. “Scrambles around the net. You just get to that post. Sometimes it looks a little more blatant than other times.”

Ah, yes: The time-tested move in which a goalie kicks out his leg and – oops! – knocks the net off its moorings while making a save.

Perhaps the most famous example was Jonathan Quick for Team USA in the Sochi Olympics, who bumped the left post hard enough to have the peg raise out of the ice, looking like a cherry Twizzler connected to the pipe. Fedor Tyutin’s third-period goal for Russia didn’t count as a result of the sneaky play. Slava Voynov, Russian defenseman, said after the game: “I can tell you myself, because I am his teammate and I play with him. It is in his style to do something like that.”

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Based on IIHF rules that have since been changed, it was no-goal. Which then made Russian fans want to turn referee Brad Meier into soap.

On Monday night, we saw another example: Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks’ back leg pushed the net off its mooring moments before Artemi Panarin shot the puck in for what would have been a third-period lead for the Chicago Blackhawks.

As Rule 78.5 states:

When the net becomes displaced accidentally. The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the goal.

While coach Joel Quenneville didn’t like the call, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford exonerated Andersen: "I don't think he kicked [the net] off on purpose. He pushed over to cover the post."

Of course, Crawford’s probably pulled the same trick once or twice.

The question then becomes if the NHL will eventually add this to the ever-growing list of things that can be reviewed if an apparent goal is scored.

“They’re trying to get after everything. Especially in terms of the goalies diving and stuff like that. The net coming off is another hot topic right now,” said McElhinney.

The result of the play would be a minor penalty rather than a goal scored, so it’s hard to imagine the NHL incorporating it into the current Coach’s Challenge format. The other problem is that it’s incredibly subjective: Goalie interference can be a cut-and-dry sequence of events, but the post kick-out veers into the land of “intent.”

How could they really tell if it’s a delay of game penalty or an accidental dislodging?

“I guess it depends on the salesman,” said McElhinney.