Wow, what a week Leafs Nation! There was so much confusion in determining what was or wasn’t a good goal across the NHL, Nazem Kadri broke out of his slump and the Maple Leafs won back to back games heading into the All-Star game break.
Let’s get right to the two controversial calls made this week, one being a goal called back and the second being a goal that should have been disallowed but wasn’t.
What makes these two incidents such lightening rods is the confusion and anger they created among fans, coaches and media. As the one play clearly shows goaltender interference and the other doesn’t.
The first controversial call came in the game against the Colorado Avalanche as Auston Matthews had a goal disallowed as it was deemed to have been goaltender interference. However, the contact that was thought to have impeded Bernier’s ability to stop the puck occurred after the puck had gone behind Bernier, and Matthews taking an extra attempt to guarantee the puck would pass the goal line and into the net.
The second controversial call came in the game two nights later in Chicago, where a goal by Nick Schmaltz is allowed even after replays show that Artem Anisimov isn’t just impeding Frederik Andersen but clearly seen sitting on top of him. This goal was allowed, and no impediment on the play was determined and thus the Blackhawks were rewarded with a good goal.
The NHL needs a better process to get the call right on the ice, this rule can’t be allowed to be interpreted by the refs as each appears to have their own understanding of the rule on goaltender interference. I appreciate the concern for games being interrupted with all these coaching challenges, but a bad call can be the difference between your team making the playoffs at the end of the season or not so calls need to be right.
One solution could be a time limit set on all coach’s challenges, the NHL could set a 30 second review limit where both the refs and the NHL Hockey Operations team in Toronto can review the call. If a decision can’t be made in the 30 second window than call on the ice stands. One other solution could be that the NHL Hockey Operations team can call the ref after a review on their end with a reversal if they deem one is necessary. This isn’t art, so no beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, so this issue needs to be rectified in short order.
Who wouldn’t want to be Nazem Kadri right now? After breaking his goal drought with the assistance of new line-mate Mitch Marner, Kadri has to be feeling a sense of relief heading into the All-Star break. Things couldn’t have been easy for the veteran Kadri after not scoring since November, but with highly skilled players like Marner and Patrick Marleau on his wing, one knew things would change and change they did. Nazem scored in consecutive nights against the Black Hawks and Stars and you couldn’t remove the smile or excitement even if you tried off Kadri’s face. For a player who has overcome a lot of road blocks, some placed on him by previous coaches and by his own actions, one can’t be happier for a player that has grown to be such a vital piece in the resurgence of the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs results as of late have left much to be desired. I appreciate this is still a young team with much potential but potential is only great when it is realized and sometimes a coach needs to take drastic measures to get his team going again. That is exactly what Coach Babcock did when he moved a struggling Leo Komarov to the fourth line with Domenic Moore and Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner was then placed on a line with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau. Connor Brown also saw increased playing time and responsibility as he was placed on the line with Tyler Bozak and James Van Reimsdyk.
This was the jolt needed as the Maple Leafs earned 4 out of the possible 6 points this week, and placing an even larger gap between them and the teams in their division chasing them for third in the division. The Maple Leafs will have a challenging week ahead as they come out of the All-Star break facing the New York Islanders and New York Rangers back to back and divisional rival the Boston Bruins next Saturday.
If the Maple Leafs have hopes at catching Boston for second in the division and home ice advantage in their presumptive first round match up, these next three games and more importantly the one against Boston will go alone way at earning this advantage come playoffs in April.
So Leafs Nation, Now let’s enjoy the All-Star Break, and here’s to Auston Matthews making his mark on this year’s All-Star game! Go Leafs Go!!
While you are enjoying the break, check out Barn Burner Hockey as they are set to launch next month!!