The New York Rangers want to know what constitutes goaltender interference. There is an all too familiar sting for Rangers fans regarding this call. During game two of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final Henrik Lundqvist was interfered with, but the goal was allowed to stand, sparking the Los Angeles Kings to a comeback win in overtime. That moment is seared into Rangers fans memories, but it is in the past
New York Rangers fans never forget
Beginning the following season, goaltender interference was added to the reviewable coaches challenge list. The rule change is a silent acknowledgment that the on-ice officials got the call wrong. Coaches were then able to make their own judgment on the play and request the play to be reviewed. Something that Alain Vigneault and the Rangers could have sorely used in that Final series.
The ability to challenge this type of play was to help ensure that the on-ice call is in fact the correct and accurate call. During this 2022 NHL playoff season, three specific goaltender interference plays have been reviewed and the rules on each lead to questions of inconsistency. In game one of the New York Rangers versus Pittsburgh Penguins series, Filip Chytil had a goal disallowed as it was ruled goaltender interference.
In the preceding moments before the goal was scored, Kaapo Kakko made contact with the Penguins netminder Casey DeSmith while being pushed into the crease by a Penguins defender Brian Dumoulin. The play was called a goal on the ice, but ruled no goal after review.
One of these three is not like the others
In Game Three of the Colorado Avalanche versus Nashville Predators series, the call went the other way. Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen’s skate impacted the skate of Predators goalie Connor Ingram, forcing him off balance as Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog took a shot. After review, this goal was let stand.
In the third game of the Dallas Stars versus Calgary Flamers series, another goaltender interference review let a goal stand. Milan Lucic of the Flames knocks over Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger after mild contact with the Stars Tyler Seguin. The puck which had originally gone wide was retrieved by Lucic for a shot. Oettinger, without being able to regain his footing was still able to stop the shot, but Trevor Lewis scored on the rebound. Review found no goaltender interference.
Three separate instances where a goaltender is clearly molested during the play. All three called goals by the on ice officials and all three challenged for review. Of these three, only the Rangers goal was disallowed. While this has infuriated the Rangers fan base, fans of the Stars and Predators had to watch their team go on a penalty kill for losing the coaches challenge.
After analysis, all three plays are similar in that there is a defending player making contact with an attacking player just prior to contact with the goalie, though to varying degrees. Each is also similar that the contact with the goalie is enough to not allow them to play their position properly. Each is similar enough that all three should have either been goals or all three should have been disallowed.
Let the officials officiate
Why the difference? Because the decisions were made by the situation room in Toronto, not the on-ice officials. The tablet technology should be enough to allow the on ice officials to review their own call. They made a judgment call as the play happened in real time and the review would provide more information, different angles to uphold or reverse their own decision. It would also allow the officials to inform the coach of their decision and why.
With Toronto making the call there is uncertainty and unfortunately inconsistency. During the playoffs it is far too important for the teams involved to not get the call correct. The Flames had tied their game on their allowed goal, but the Stars still won the game. The Avalanche won their game 7-3, so how impactful their goal being allowed was was to tell. For the New York Rangers though, their disallowed goal would have put them ahead and directly affected the outcome of the game.
The NHL needs to ensure that they get these calls right.