Rule Book Research: Why Wasn't That A Penalty?

Doug Pensinger

The Wild were inches away from sealing the victory, but Erik Johnson made a huge hustle play to keep the score 4-3 before the Avs tied and eventually won the game. But the no-call that led to the tying goal is stuck in the minds of fans across the State of Hockey.

How deflating was that Wilderness? The Minnesota Wild coughed up a 2-goal lead late in the 3rd period. Clayton Stoner said post-game, "We feel like we kinda gave them that game a little bit." Between the awful turnovers that led to goals and the inability to clear the zone, which has plagued the Wild all season long, the Wild actually played a pretty well-rounded game and were in position to win. Unfortunately, the Avalanche prevailed in Game One.

If you were anything like me, you were probably standing up and pacing back and forth for most of the game while downing the beers just to calm down. As the puck neared the goal-mouth of an empty net, I think we all thought that game was over, but Erik Johnson made a great hustle play to negate the goal, but in doing so, he knocked the net off of its moorings. Earlier in the game, as the Wild were being pressured in their own zone, Mikko Koivu was called for Delay of Game for intentionally knocking the net off. Why? What was different about each play that made huge differences in the game?

"A minor penalty shall be imposed on any player who delays the game by deliberately displacing a goal post from its normal position. The Referee shall stop play immediately when the offending team gains possession of the puck.

In the event that a goalpost is deliberately displaced by a defending player, prior to the puck crossing the goal line between the normal position of the goalposts, the Referee shallassess a minor penalty for delaying the game if the attacking player has not yet taken the shot or in the act of taking the shot at the open net (see 63.6).

When the net is accidentally displaced by an attacking player, and the defending side is in possession of the puck and moving out of their zone, play shall be permitted to continue until such time as the non-offending team loses possession of the puck. The resulting face-off will take place at a face-off spot in the zone nearest the location where the play was stopped, unless it is in the non-offending team's defending zone, and as such the ensuing face-off would be outside the blue line at one of the face-off spots in the neutral zone. It is possible for a goal to be scored at one end of the rink while the net at the other end has been dislodged, provided that the team being scored upon is the team responsible for dislodging the net at the other end of the rink."

In Mikko Koivu's situation, the Avs had possession of the puck in the attacking zone, and his back-checking momentum took him into the net causing it to dislodge. While I thought that there very well might be a penalty called, we've seen that same play not called during almost any regular season game. Unfortunately, our favorite Captain was sent to the sin bin for two.

In the Erik Johnson play, The puck was pitchforked out of the zone on a clearing attempt. The puck would have rolled into the net had Johnson not made a play on the puck. Johnson made a great play, but his momentum caused him to crash into the net and causing it to dislodge. Matt Cooke happened to be in the zone and had corralled the puck to get a shot on net, but the play was blown dead. I think the officials made a judgment that because Johnson played the puck first, he did not intentionally dislodge the net. However, this play negated a sure scoring chance. To make things worse, the referees made a blunder by taking the faceoff out to the neutral zone.

"We got an opportunity to score a goal if he doesn't knock the net off. We got called for a penalty on a something sort of similar, and then why that faceoff comes out to neutral, I never did get an explanation," Mike Yeo said after the game. This defeat in Game 1 should be considered unacceptable as they Wild lost after holding into the third period and were 14 seconds away from winning. You can definitely blame the players for the lack of execution in front of the net, but the refs, I think legitimately blew this call. What do you think Wilderness?

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