NHL Week in Review (January 28-February 3)

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It seems like every league has to deal with one aspect of the game that never seems to be as clearly defined as the rest.

It leads to a constant debate as players and coaches want things more clearly defined while the fans are confused about how to perceive the rule.

The NFL is in a constant debate about the catch rule and what is considered a catch as opposed to a drop.

It is one of the biggest issues facing them this off-season and the fans, players and teams are all looking at the league to figure something out.

The NHL is now getting into their own issue like the catch rule in the NFL as things are getting more confusing about the goalie interference calls that many teams are seeing.

It has always been understood that the blue ice in the crease is the home of the goalie and that players are not allowed in that ice.

In the NHL that distinction is a little different as there has always been a little bit more leniency in that blue ice.

The league has always allowed players to enter that part of the ice especially with the way the game is played in the league.

That ability to be a pest in front of the goalie is needed for so many teams in the league and sometimes that strategy can lead to players entering the blue ice.

In the NHL rules, there is nothing about putting a skate into the crease or standing in front of the goalie to provide a screen or some traffic in front.

Instead, the rule for goaltender interference relates more to disturbing the goalie while he is in the crease.

The rule states that no player can enter the crease where the goalie has already established his position.

That definition leaves some room for a player to be in the crease, obviously not all the way in the crease, and is meant to also protect the goaltender.

That is what the rule is meant to do though as the goaltender needs to be protected in order to do his job properly.

They can’t be fair game both to ensure that they have the ability to save shots and do what they’re meant to do while also protecting them from getting hit while they are in a vulnerable position.

It just makes sense for this rule to be in place in order to keep things going but lately, the definition of that rule has come into question.

While the rule leaves room for the unexpected that has become part of the problem because it isn’t black and white.

The rule can be left up for debate and that has left enough room for some issues when these calls are made.

This season has seen more of those calls go in strange directions as sometimes the slightest touch on a goalie results in a call and a reversed goal.

That happened to Auston Matthews two weeks ago when he touched Jonathan Bernier and when it was reviewed it was determined that the slight touch was enough to overturn the goal.

The referees had basically said that Matthews had done enough to disturb the goalie and that it was an interference call rather than a gaol.hockey-sidebar

Then in a different game, Connor Hellebuyck took a stick to the facemask and then was taken completely out of the play while the Bruins put the puck in the net.

After a review, the goal stood and the NHL was even more confused about the rule and how the league has called these penalties.

Like most issues, the biggest problem seems to be the way that the referees call this penalty in particular.

There never seems to be consistency when there are issues as the same play multiple times could be completely different based on the referee working the game.

The rule could be changed to make it simpler and make it more black and white, although nothing will ever be perfect.

International hockey has taken on a different way to solve the issue as they have a goalie interference call but also a crease violation call.

The goalie interference is for bigger things that are more obvious while the crease violation is not a penalty but a stoppage of play.

It happens any time that a player stands in the crease and forces the play to stop for another puck drop.

The NHL could think about adding this and it would surely reduce the rate of players in the crease which would reduce the issues with the interference calls.

It likely wouldn’t be a favourite strategy because it will slow the game down especially in the first few years when players are adjusting.

Other than that move there will need to be a movement towards tweaking the rule or redefining the rule for the referees.

If consistency can come back to these calls it will solve the problem but to get that the league might need to make some changes.

 

Overtime

Jagr’s Run Done

Jaromir Jagr was the oldest player in the NHL by a big margin and was continuing to climb up the all-time lists as he made his way through the league. This season it took him a long time to find a home before the Calgary Flames signed him. He was hurt at the start of the season and was never able to find his way back before the Flames released him this week. His time in the NHL seems to be over as there isn’t a good chance that he finds his way back but his career will continue after signing with a Czech team after he was released.

All-Star Champs

The All-Star tournament was once again a place for debate and for some of the best players in hockey to join together. This time around it was the Pacific division that came out on top after beating the Central 5-2 in the semi-finals and then the Atlantic in the finals. It was a fun weekend with plenty of action but still one that many wonder what the value of the weekend is. For the players that one a bonus is headed their way as the Pacific division players will split a $1 million prize.

Record Setters

The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the top stories throughout the year as the expansion team was always going to be closely watched. Everyone wanted to know how the game would be received in the non-traditional market. Their play has only helped them in that respect as they have become the best team in the league. That pace has helped them to become the most successful expansion franchise in the history of the NHL and with so much more time they could put the record out of reach by the end of the year.

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