Photo Credit: © Gary A. Vasquez | 2017 Jan 28

Three Thoughts: Get a Clue

It’s painfully obvious the NHL hasn’t figured out what constitutes goaltender interference and what doesn’t – the latest embarrassing and somewhat outrageous exhibit of evidence coming Thursday in the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 shootout win over the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place. The interpretation game continues.

It was stunning, to say the very least, to see what looked like the winning goal by Ryan Strome in overtime called back after referee Kendrick Nicholson huddled with the NHL situation room and it was ruled that Connor McDavid’s incidental contact with Calgary goaltender David Rittich meant the goal would not count. Huh?

If you haven’t seen the play, watch it and tell me how that play, in which McDavid contacts Rittich’s stick while cutting through the crease on a shot attempt, constitutes goaltender interference and Ryan Kesler laying on Cam Talbot and prying his legs apart during the last spring’s playoff series against Anaheim does not. I’m confused. Players are confused. I’m not the least bit convinced the NHL has a firm grip on it either.

That final call, by the way, is Nicholson’s to make. While he can huddle for input with the NHL situation room on the headset, it’s ultimately his call. Yet, after clearly signaling a good goal – Nicholson was behind the goal line as McDavid cut through the crease and had circled behind the net by the time Strome banged the puck into the net – he changed his call.

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“After video review at the situation room in Toronto, it was determined there was goaltender interference. We have no goal,” said Nicholson, who must have heard a pretty compelling earful on the headset to reverse his call. I’d like to think this ongoing mess will be addressed when NHL governors squeeze in some meetings around dinner, golf and drinks in Florida this weekend. Something has to give. Something has to change, and soon. This, like the offside schmozzle, just isn’t good enough.


Nicholson and partner Steve Kozari compounded a miserably bad night’s work after McDavid deftly tucked home the winner in the shootout by issuing him an abuse of officials penalty. A fired up McDavid showed the zebras up when he motioned upward and suggested that they check upstairs to make sure his goal was good.

“It is frustrating but ultimately, like I always say, I’m always trying to defend the refs,” said McDavid, who doesn’t beef about officiating nearly as much as he could. “I feel like I’m always good to the refs and I try not to do stuff like I did tonight. Hopefully they aren’t too upset at me.”

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I’ve got no problem with McDavid showing some emotion, given the bungled decision that transpired in OT before he won it in the shootout. Abuse of officials? The way the NHL has handled this goaltender interference business since the start has been an abuse of common sense.


As an aside, that goaltender interference call was, according to somebody who texted into the Oilers Now show on 630 CHED with Bob Stauffer today, the 14th consecutive video review that has gone against the Oilers dating back to the stiffing they took against the Ducks in the playoffs last spring.

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  • geoilersgist

    Complete garbage. I was insanely happy to see him giving them crap after OT ended and then after he scored that shootout goal. Perhaps him showing that emotion is what this team needs to finally move the needle. They don’t show emotion nearly enough.

  • Consultant

    14 in row against us, that is a crazy stat…
    Great article, both the offside replays and the goalie interference ambiguity are ridiculous. Fan opinion has to count for something, NHL needs to address these issues now, before the playoffs.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    How to analyze, goaltender interference.
    1. Was the player in the crease?
    2. Did the player contact the goaltender?
    3. Did the contact, affect the ability of the Goaltender to make the save?
    Simple, cut and dried.

    • Natejax97

      Yup Kessler was in the crease
      Yup Kessler contacted Talbot when he pulled on his pad
      Yup Kessler held the pad open until the puck was shot through Talbot’s pads

      Not simple…not cut and dried…almost bordering conspiracy.

      Just sayin.

    • 99CupsofCoffey

      #3, no way that McDavid affected the ability of the goaltender. When 97 bumped his stick, the goaltender was on his knees. he had time to jump to both feet and make an attempt at the save on the far side of the net. so the answer is NO.

    • Hemmercules

      Someone posted this earlier………Rule 69.7 ” In a rebound situation, or where a goalkeeper and attacking player(s) are simultaneously attempting to play a loose puck, whether inside or outside the crease, incidental contact with the goalkeeper will be permitted, and any goal that is scored as a result thereof will be allowed.”

      I feel like it was a goal. Even if that goalie had time to react he didn’t see the puck until it was too late anyway. There was ample time between Conner bumping him and the rebound going in.

      Maybe the league wanted Calgary to get 2 points last night? Edmonton practically out of the race and Calgary still has a shot.

  • BringitbacklikeSlats

    Well said Robin ?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the refereeing since we got jobbed in that Anaheim series and a thought has come to mind…

    Because it seems there’s a reluctance to hold the stripes accountable, I would love to see a push by the League to have the refs names placed once again in their backs (just like it used to be). Back in the day, they were accountable to the fans in at least some form because of it. Personally, I think it would be of great benefit to the overall quality of the game to get back to that. It won’t be a cure all for bad reffing, but I’m convinced it would help. It certainly can’t get any worse.

  • Ten Long Years

    I was wondering what the stats were on reviews involving the oilers as I can’t remember the last time one was ruled in their favour. 14 in a row? That goes beyond coincidental

    • Disappointed

      Incheered your statement about beyond coincidental, then I thought, has anybody verified that fact, or are we all going to spit vitriol because of some text in to Stauffer. I would like to see that list.

      • Fire Woodcroft!

        Looks like it’s safe to say that the Oilers haven’t won a Coaches challenge or had a ruling on the ice against them overturned by video review since Mar 23 2017.

        From a review of ‘the Situation Room’ posts on Nhl.com:
        Jan 25 2018 vs Calgary – Oilers goal overturned due to goalie interference
        Jan 9 2018 vs Nashville – Oilers goal overturned due to offside
        Dec 23 2017 vs Montreal – Hans goal upheld after review for goalie int.
        Dec 14 2017 vs Nashville – Preds goal upheld after review for high stick
        Dec 9 2017 vs Montrel – Oilers goal overturned after review (did not cross line)
        Dec 2 2017 vs Calgary – Oilers goal overturned after review (kicking motion)
        Nov 12 2017 vs Washington – Oilers goal overturned after review (goalie interference)
        Nov 3 2017 vs NJ – Devils goal upheld after review for high stick
        Oct 7 2017 vs Vancouver – Canucks goal allowed after review overturns No Goal call made on ice
        May 5 2017 vs Anaheim – Ducks goal upheld after BS review confirms no goalie interference
        May 3 2017 vs Anaheim – Ducks goal upheld after review confirms no goalie interference
        Apr 30 2017 vs Anaheim – Ducks goal upheld after review for offside
        Apr 26 2017 vs Anaheim – Ducks goal upheld after review for goalie interference
        Apr 9 2017 vs Vancouver – Oilers goal overturned due to offside
        Mar 28 2017 vs LA – Oilers goal overturned due to goalie interference

        Mar 23 2017 vs Colorado – Oilers goal upheld after review for offside

        • Fire Woodcroft!

          However in that same time, the Situation Room has confirmed several calls on the ice that were made by the refs and were not made into a Coaches Challenge:

          Dec 12 2017 vs Columbus – Call on ice Blue Jackets no goal confirmed
          Nov 1 2017 vs Pittsburgh – Call on ice Penguins no goal confirmed
          May 5 2017 vs Anaheim – Call on ice Ducks no goal confirmed
          Apr 30 2017 vs Anaheim – Call on ice Oilers goal confirmed
          Apr 4 2017 vs LA – Call on ice Oilers goal confirmed

          All of the above reviews were initiated by the Situation Room and were not part of a Coaches Challenge. They merely confirmed that the call made on the ice was correct.

  • Ty Guy

    Funny… I live in Calgary and am a huge Oilers fan. i have been complaining to flamer friends that we never get the call on reviewed goals and i am right…I just wish i wasn’t this right. As soon as that OT goal was scored last night i told my buddy to wait, he was ready to leave the pub mad and i told him it wouldn’t count….I even had another table of flame fans overhear me and chime in that it was a goal….never bet on review when it pertains to the oil.

  • Natejax97

    97 points…Pace of Colarado, LA, Calgary, et al…

    33 games – 25 wins 8 losses. never would have thought the NHL hated the Oilers so much that they would put the refs in there against us too…

    I hope we beat Colarado next Thursday, then go 4-0 against Tampa, LA, Anaheim and San Jose…I would like the Oilers just to make everybody (including the commissioner) sweat a little. That would make my year.

    Have a great weekend Oilersnation!!

    Goo Oilers.

      • Kevwan

        Hey Worthless Wanker – Doesn’t an independent accounting firm like Ernst and Young oversee the draft lottery process. The league can’t do anything about who gets the number 1 pick.

        As for why the refs hate the Oilers who knows. It’s not like we had a crappy, slow, overpaid Dman end the career of a linesman by hitting him intentionally from behind because he thought a penalty should have been called. And that Dman and the flames through his initial hearing and first appeal insisted he had no concussion and that the incident was an accident. Only on his final appeal did he use the “concussion – didn’t know what happened” excuse. In spite of this, support for this player from his team and fan base was overwhelming.

        I know that if I was a ref which team I would be biased against and it wouldn’t be the Oilers – so you’re almost right – it makes no sense.

  • MillHoodsHockey4Life

    Clearly something needs to change with goaltender interference calls for consistency if there isn’t a clear understanding of what it is and isn’t.
    For offsides if the intent is to stop the blatant missed calls any review should be made in normal stop, not slow motion. The linesmen won’t get shown up on a call they missed from 40ft away by a fraction of an inch and it will reduce the amount of reviews as coaches will be less likely to challenge unless it’s an egregious missed call.

  • smiliegirl15

    The refs really had it in for the Oilers last night. Not just with the disallowed goal. Kassian didn’t deserve everything heaped on him yesterday either. He shouldn’t have gotten the instigator penalty either.
    The refs have brought this upon themselves but unfortunately the Oilers are going to be the ones paying the price time after time.
    NHL refs should be completely embarrassed by their officiating this season especially.

    • DK0

      The refs had it in for Kassian from puck drop. Did anyone else notice that in the first period when Kassian was trying to get something going the refs were yelling “Play the Game! Play hockey!” right at him and he yelled back “I AM PLAYING [email protected]#KING HOCKEY” just as the camera zoomed in? Then you add in the 2nd intermission interview and I knew he was going to get tossed in the 3rd.

      I get it, Kassian is an agitator. But he’s pretty damn clean about it the last few years and they treat him worse than Marchand out there

  • hagar

    It was an interesting call. In my eyes it shouldn’t have been a goal take away during the game, and I still don’t think it should have been, but at least it had a slight semblance of reason unlike some calls in the playoffs last year.

    I rate it a 7 on the total sh’t scale. Lol

  • RJ

    I have a couple of thoughts:

    1) NHL refs suck – its pretty common now to see multiple games a week on HNIC and elsewhere. I’ve seen some absolutely horrible calls and absolutely horrible non-calls in games not involving the Oilers. Made me take a step back and realize that many of these referees just suck.

    2) 2 ref system sucks – I remember the old games called by a single referee. You could tell what kind of game it was going to be by the referee selected, especially in the playoffs. Now you can have a penalty on one end that isn’t a penalty on the other end. That’s on the NHL.

    3) McDavid – watching the officials deal with McDavid reminds me of watching the Pistons play in the Thomas/Dumas/Laimbeer era. They would foul so much in a game the officials adjusted their calling to only focus on the most egregious fouls.

    If the refs were going to call the rule book objectively, then there’d be a penalty on nearly every McDavid shift. No referee is going to give the Oilers ten powerplays a game, even if play dictated it. So opposing teams get away with a lot of garbage.

  • OilCan2

    The NHL has proven once again that they are incompetent. When the FAKE NEWS networks collapse the league will fold like a cheap tent. Until then Connor will have to put up with the ‘clutch & grab’ show.

  • Flint

    Honest questions looking for an honest answers:
    1. Do people think players should be allowed to skate into the crease on their own momentum while shooting the puck? McDavid in that sequence wan’t pushed in and had both feet in the crease. Or should the NHL be trying to keep players from skating aggresively into the crease?

    If the above response is yes (former) and no (latter) then if you do that and make any contact with the goalie? Is it only if you plow over the goalie that a goal is disallowed?

    McDavid wasn’t pushed in. He was fully in the crease with both feet. He made slight contact with the goalie. If that is a penalty then the play is dead, there is no rebound shot by Strome as when he touched the puck it’s whistled.

    So the question is it a penalty if a player skates into the crease and touches the goalie?

    • Flint

      Well since no one can formulate a reply, I’ll go on the “trashes” that skating into the crease and making contact with the goalie should be allowed, so then, being pushed into the goalie and making contact defintely should be allowed, no? So then what is the problem with Kesler? You can’t have it both ways. Either you completely make the goalies off limits, or you open up the grey areas. Kesler was pushed in, McDavid skated in.

      This sounds a lot like “I’m an Oilers fan, I want rules that don’t go against my team.”

    • Fire Woodcroft!

      The applicable part in the rule-book about being in the crease chasing a rebound and making incidental contact with a goaltender has already been cited in the comments several times. But I guess rules can be ignored if they contradict your point, eh?

      There’s no Force-field around the crease bud. Players can skate through it. If they do, they need to make the effort not to contact the goaltender. In this instance McDavid clearly made that effort and tried to turn out of the tender’s way. In doing so, his skate made incidental contact with the goalies stick.

      • Flint

        The rebound went to Strome. The contact was on the initial shooting motion as McDavid chipped the puck, drove into the crease and caught Rittich’s blocker with his right skate.

        That was my first question that people downvoted. Do people think you should be able to drive the goalie and make contact in the crease with no penalty or not? The rebound to Strome is a secondary issue, and he makes no contact with the goalie.

        Players are allowed to move through the crease but if they make contact with the goalie during a shooting event that’s interference. It’s the most basic definition of interference there is.

        • Fire Woodcroft!

          Your question doesn’t apply in this case cause McDavid doesn’t drive the goalie. He distinctly turned to try to avoid him. The stick contact happened as the puck was rebounding – just cause Strome was the one that ultimately found the puck doesn’t change the rules.

          Nice try troll. Be better.

          • Flint

            Do you agree McDavid takes the intial shot? Do you agree both feet enter the crease? Do you agree that McDavid contacts Rittich’s blocker hand with his right foot?

            The highlights are on the web. Available for anyone to see. Let’s start because if the basic facts cannot be recognized then what’s the point of having the conversation?

          • Flint

            Rule 69 states: Goals should be disallowed only if: ; 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 does qualify that INSIDE the crease, efforts to avoid contact allow the goal. It continues:

            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.

          • Flint

            This is surprising the amount of misunderstanding.
            Incidental contact INSIDE the crease on the first shooting event (the first shot) is NOT permitted – that’s McDavid.
            The rebound(s) are the following shooting events (shots on goal) this was Strome (no contact, puck was outside the crease)

            The rebound sub category doesn’t apply to McDavid, he was the first shot event.

            And to clarify why the rebound rule exists it is as such: If the players are outside the crease on the first shooting event (they don’t have to be provided their is NO contact of the goalie. None) They can enter the crease to pursue the rebound and take the next shot. If in entering the crease and making the next shooting event they incidentally (not intentionally) make contact with the goalie, say Stromes stick brushes Rittich’s head while shooting… then the goal will stand. Remember a stick is part of the player. If it’s intentional contact (pushing the goalie into the net) it’s disallowed. But the rebound situation is pursuing and making the second shot. McDavid didn’t do anything about the second shot he was going the other direction and was on the other side of the crease. His shot was the first shooting event where contact in the crease is prohibited. Strome was the rebound event.

            I see by the downvotes and the heading of the article that it is tough to understand, but the NHL made the call by the rules as they are written and as I think some fans already understand. But ots true the league is always tweaking and it can cause confusion.

  • Beer

    Just a thought, but has it occurred to anyone at NHL head office that you can’t make non-NHL officials into NHL officials just because you want more teams, even if ther’e not NHL ready. Same applies to player’s and coaches. it’s getting hard to be a fan of a 31 team league that wants to expand and be more pathetic.

  • Devolution

    I really don’t think the league can be taken seriously until the officiating is more consistent. And the video review is a complete joke: as soon as it goes to Toronto you know Oilers will lose the challenge. They always do.

  • Hemmertime83

    If it is indeed fourteen in a row… Jesus. Chiarelli should be willing to take a fine and speak out about that. This number should be verified and then every replay sent to the NHL and sportsnet. If chia is too much of a punk to take the fine have the Oilers mouthpiece Stauffer bang the drum.

  • Serious Gord


    It met all of the criteria for interference as I understand the rule:

    In the crease

    Made contact with goalie

    Impaired goalies response to the shot.

    Pretty straightforward. I’m pretty sure had the team’s been reversed you would have said it was a good ruling.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I shut the game off in disgust at the OT goal. I was shocked to learn the next morning they took it back. In my mind there’s no way that shouldn’t count.