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Fraser: Refs missed the call on Caps' too many men

Kerry Fraser
4/23/2012 2:46:42 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 cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,
 
In the Bruins-Caps game, there was a penalty called against the Bruins and when Holtby came off the ice for the extra attacker, it appeared that the Caps had too many men before the Bruins touched the puck. There was an audible yell of "too many men," and the announcers thought that there was a penalty for seven Caps on the ice, yet the Caps had a power play instead of a 4-on-4. Can you explain what happened? Were the announcers just incorrect that the refs blew the whistle for too many men, or did the refs get together after the whistle and change their minds?
 
Thanks,
Tim (Boston, MA)

Tim:

With a delayed penalty signaled against Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins for high-sticking Alexander Semin the announcers correctly reported that play was stopped when the linesman identified too many men on the ice following a Caps illegal two man change at their bench. The linesman got the call right at that time and the whistle was blown to stop play with Washington in possession of the puck.

You can watch the play here with a count of the seven players at the 7:25 mark of the video.

After the whistle blew and prior to the referee assessing the penalty a conference was held by the officials and the too many men call was changed in error. There is only one possible situation in which this could have been deemed a legal line change; even with seven skaters on the ice. Some member(s) of the crew obviously convinced the linesman who stopped the play that this situation applied. They were wrong. Let me explain.

With the play deep in the Washington end zone Bergeron clipped Semin in the head with his stick near the faceoff circle hash marks. The back referee identified the infraction and Washington's sensational young goalie Braden Holtby raced to the bench in favour of an extra attacker as the Caps pushed the puck up ice.

Following along behind Holtby for a line change was defenceman Roman Hamrlik. Holtby arrived at the Capitals bench in advance of Hamrlik and was within the legal five-foot change limit when his replacement jumped onto the ice from the middle of the players' bench. (I believe it was Mike Knuble.) Holtby took his place on the Capitals bench.

It is important to note that if Holtby's replacement (Knuble?) left the bench prior to the five-foot change limit being achieved then Rule 71—premature substitution would have resulted. The linesman would have blown the whistle, the face-off would result at centre ice but no time penalty to the Caps would be assessed. (This would constitute a premature substitution for goalkeeper versus too many men on the ice.)

Holtby was on the bench and his replacement on the ice when Roman Hamrlik arrived near the back door of the Washington players' bench for a change. With Hamrlik still physically on the ice but reasonably within the five-foot change limit, Alex Ovechkin jumped off the end of the bench closest to their attacking zone. All systems were good at this point even with seven players on the ice; legal change for Holtby had been executed and Hamrlik was within five feet of the bench as was Ovi.

The too many men on the ice violation occurred when Alex Semin saw Ovechkin open on the left side and fired a perfect cross-ice pass onto Ovi's tape prior to Hamrlik physically leaving the ice. At this point Rule 74 is applied: "If in the course of making a substitution, either the player entering the game or the player retiring from the ice surface player the puck with his stick, skates or hands or who checks or makes any physical contact with an opposing player while either the player entering the game or the retiring player is actually on the ice, then the infraction "too many men on the ice" will be called."

The linesman stopped play to correctly apply Rule 74 when Ovechkin played the puck with Hamrlik still physically on the ice. The only thing that I can think of is that someone determined that the second man over the boards (Ovi) was intended and deemed to replace Holtby and was able to convince the linesman of it.

No matter what the reason the officials came up with through their on-ice conference, the final call was made incorrectly. Washington was clearly guilty of too many men on the ice and the teams should have played 4-on-4. The announcers got it right — the officials did not.

Get ready for Game 7. All the guns should be firing for both teams in Boston on Wednesday night. It will come down to Thomas versus Holtby with just five other guys legally on the ice for each team at any one time!

For a personally autographed copy of Final Call from TSN hockey analyst and former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, visit The Book Keeper website.

For a regular copy of Final Call from TSN hockey analyst and former NHL referee Kerry Fraser, visit here.

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 cmonref@tsn.ca!


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

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