Monday, April 21, 2014

Referees Steal Spotlight as Canadiens Take 3-0 Series Lead

By Josh Thomas

Let me give you an idea of what it feels like at a playoff game in Montreal. 
The video picks up about four minutes in. As someone that has been to the Bell Centre, take my word for it when that torch lights up the ice you can’t even here yourself think.
It is electric, it is loud, it is an unbelievable atmosphere and if you are an opposing player, it is downright scary.
Now add a 2-0 series lead for the bleu blanc et rouge and you have a building that is ready to explode.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were in that exact situation last night. It was clear the pressure got to them right off the opening draw as the Lightning D let recently surging Rene Borque in alone on Anders Lindback. Borque made no mistake and opened the scoring 11 seconds into the game. The Canadiens kept the pressure on for the entire first period playing off the ecstatic crowd but were unable to score again.
The Lightning came on strong in the second and thanks to A, somewhat soft, call on Daniel Briere, were able to tie the game. Then came the controversy. With 4:22 left in the second period the Lightning had a goal called back because one of their players “impeded the goalies ability to be in a position to stop the puck”
Here is the rule straight from the NHL rule book:
RULE 69.1 Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.”  
The rule also states:
 The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
Here is the disallowed goal from last night.
I'll let you decide if that is the right call or not. Either way it the game remained tied much to the dismay of Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. Cooper didn't love what happened next either. Just seconds after the disallowed goal, lightning captain Steven Stamkos took a knee to the back of the headStamkos laid motionless on the ice for a few seconds, he then attempted to stand up but clearly was not in a good place. He left the ice immediately and did not return until the third period. Many (including myself) wonder how he was allowed to return at all.
Once the dust of all this had settled, Montreal’s P.K. Subban got the fans on their feet by skating the puck around the entire offensive zone before spinning and putting a perfect pass on Brendan Gallagher's stick for the go ahead goal.
Tomas Plekanec added a goal from a sharp angle in the 3rd period to put Montreal up 3-1.
Tampa was able to get a goal back and make it interesting down the stretch when Matthew Carle scored from the point. Carey Price shut the door from then on.
After the dust settled on a crazy night at the Bell Centre, the Montreal Canadiens walked away with a 3-0 series lead.
Game 4 goes Tuesday from Montreal (CBC, RDS, NHLN-US, TSN 690) as the Canadiens have the opportunity to complete the sweep.

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