Fraser: Why Edler's goal on Howard should not have counted

Kerry Fraser
12/22/2011 5:45:48 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at!

Hey, Kerry;
Love the column. Keep up the great work. Watching the third period of the Canucks vs. Red Wings on Wednesday, Jannik Hansen drives the net hard, gets stymied by Jimmy Howard, and proceeds to take the goaltender out of the play. Edler cleans up the garbage and Vancouver takes a commanding 4-2 lead. How is this goal allowed to stand? Clearly Howard's ability to defend his crease was impaired, and we've seen Tomas Holmstrom whistled for far less. Why was this goal allowed to stand in this situation?
Mark in Champaign


There are a couple of things at play here to determine if the goal scored by Alexander Edler should be allowed to stand.

The first element to consider is if the referee, positioned along the goal line, determined that the attempted stick check by Henrik Zetterberg on the initial puck carrier, Jannik Hansen caused the Vancouver player to lose an edge and crash into Detroit net minder, Jimmy Howard.

If that were to be the case then rule 69.1 could apply to allow the goal to stand which states; "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 the purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact."

Since Zetterberg did not push, shove or body check Hansen the only remaining alternative here would be if the referee deemed that Zetterberg had fouled the Vancouver player. Hansen was clearly within all criteria limits for a penalty shot to be assessed if it was determined that he was fouled from behind at this point.

There was no immediate reaction or arm raised by the referee to signal a penalty as Zetterberg reached with his stick while Hansen cut hard to the net and ultimately lost his edge and fell, sliding into Jimmy Howard as this video demonstrates.

There should not have been a penalty to Zetterberg for his stick reach as contact, if any, was minimal at best and did not cause Hansen to lose an edge. The contact initiated by Hansen's fall however, drove Howard deep into his net and definitely impaired Jimmy's ability to defend his goal.

The only signal made by the referee was pointing into the net to verify the scoring of a legal goal when Alexander Elder followed up on the play and put the rebound past both Hansen and Howard.

My call on this (and what I believe should have taken place) is incidental contact of the goalkeeper ruled when Hansen blew a tire and had no ability to avoid the Detroit goalkeeper. The resulting goal should have immediately been waved off and no penalty assessed to Hansen.

Vancouver scored this shorthanded goal with Ryan Kesler serving a minor penalty for roughing after being clocked by a Niklas Kronwall charge that went unpenalized if not undetected. Kronwall with back turned, left his feet prior to impact and went nuclear, vaulting up and into Kesler along the sidewall.

Mark, your reference to Tomas Holmstrom brought back many memories of keeping my eyes glued this goal crease pest right up to the last Red Wings game that I worked just prior to my retirement. The Nashville Predators were the guests at Joe Louis Arena on this night. I documented the last crease penalty I called on Holmstrom in the Detroit chapter of The Final Call entitled, Hockeytown, USA. I share it with you now Mark and for those who wish to read on.

"Nashville and Detroit played hard, and as I anticipated, I would have to step up from my position at the blue line and call a penalty on Holmstrom at 19:04 of the first period. Mickey Redmond, a former 50-goal scorer for Detroit and long-time colour commentator on Wings television broadcasts, didn't agree (imagine that), but it was a phenomenal call. Some things that the untrained eye might take several replays, even in slow motion, to detect, we officials only have a fraction of a millisecond to see and make a judgment on. This was one of those times, and from 65 feet away.

The Wings were cycling the puck low in the Nashville end zone. Holmstrom came out of the corner from a scramble behind the net and occupied his favourite real estate, right at the top of –if not inside—the blue paint of the goal crease, his back and butt in the face Pekka Rinne. As one of the non-puck carriers, Tomas was part of my area of coverage, along with the other players who weren't immediately involved in the action around the puck. Wes (McCauley) covered everything to do with action on the puck.

Tomas never seems to want to take up space on his own; he usually attracts a crowd, which he uses to his advantage by jamming up the goal crease even more. With the puck on its way to the front of the net, Tomas grabbed the stick of Nashville defenceman Shea Weber, tap-danced over Rinne's pads, and pulled Weber down to the side of the goal crease, all the while flipping a one-handed shot at the goal with his stick. Before the puck floated overtop of the net, I had my hand in the air to signal a penalty against Holmstrom. With all the action around him, Pekka Rinne didn't realize there was a delayed penalty being called against Detroit, so he remained in his crease until the whistle blew once Detroit gained possession of the puck. Tomas had that confused look of innocence on his face as he went to the penalty box for the remaining 56 seconds of the period.

Prior to the start of the second period, I was standing near the penalty box when Holmstrom skated over to occupy the real estate I had rented him for the next 64 seconds. Again flashing me that confused look, Tomas asked me what I'd seen—notice, not what he'd done! I explained that I'd seen him engage the Nashville defenceman at the edge of the crease, grab his stick, and pull him down, while trying to make it look as though he was the one being fouled. A wide grin broke out across Holmstrom's face, as he smiled and said, "That's why you're the best!" and then stepped into the penalty box.

Tomas Holmstrom makes things happen. He creates opportunities for his team and takes a huge beating in front of the net to do so. He is just as valuable to the Detroit Red Wings as any of their other star players, and they have a boatload of them, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, and Todd Bertuzzi."

All eyes glued to the crease from now on, Mark.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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