New York Rangers fans are still irate Wednesday morning after referres Dan O'Rourke and Dean Morton flat out robbed their team of a point against the hated rival New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night.
Artem Anisimov did indeed put the puck behind Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur just before the final horn sounded in the third period, a goal that would have tied the game at 1-1 and, in all likelihood, would have sent the game to overtime. Instead, the officials waived off the goal, claiming Rangers forward Marian Gaborik made enough contact with Brodeur to justify goaltender interference.
The Rangers, meanwhile, argued that Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov pushed Gaborik into Brodeur, which should negate any goaltender interference call. Let's look at the video.
Callahan took the shot, as Marian Gaborik was guided into Martin Brodeur, courtesy of Anton Volchenkov. Artem Anisimov found the loose puck, and slipped it under Brodeur. But before the the puck could even hit the back of the net, the goal was waived off by the referee. This easily has to go down in the record books, as one of the worst calls in hockey history.
If a defensemen pushes an opposing player into HIS OWN goalie, and the puck finds a way in, IT'S A GOAL. I cannot even begin give the slightest guess as to what the refs were thinking when they made that call, it was that outrageous.
One of the WORST CALLS IN HOCKEY HISTORY! New Jersey fans have a different perspective, as you might imagine. Here's Devils blog In Lou We Trust:
Gaborik had no intention and made no effort to stop before contract. He skated in low and led with his elbow, which contacted Brodeuer first. He was not pushed by Anton Volchenkov, Gaborik's momentum was his own. Volchenkov may have touched him, but given that Gaborik was separate from everyone else when Brodeur was knocked into his own net, it's clear to me that he just charged the net on purpose - Volchenkov didn't help him. Brodeur didn't even come out to take the charge, he just received it while in the crease - where he can't be contacted - and got pounded into the net. This happened before Anisimov put the puck in the net. It was a penalty and so the play died.
It's pretty amazing how two people and two fan bases can see the exact same play completely differently, but nevertheless, that's what happened here. I see it differently than both of these takes, but generally tend to side with the Devils take in this case. Here's why:
The NHL rulebook explains goaltender interference pretty clearly. If an attacking player makes contact with the goalie, whether incidental or otherwise, a goal will be disallowed. If a defending player makes contact with the goalie, a goal shall be allowed. This carries over to initiation of the contact as well -- if the attacking player pushes a defending player into the goalie, no goal. If the defending player pushes the attacking player into the goalie, it's a goal.
I don't agree with In Lou We Trust that Volchenkov didn't help Gaborik. Yeah, Gaborik is crashing the net and his momentum is carrying him towards Brodeur, but Volchenkov certainly helps him along the way. According to that logic, then, the goal should count, but let's read on in the rulebook. Part of Rule 69.1, emphasis ours:
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
I don't see any indication that Gaborik tried to stop before hitting Brodeur. He didn't ease up whatsoever, and his full momentum carried right into the face of the Devils goalie. Reasonable effort? No, not at all.