NHL

Fraser: Face-off locations and pucks caught up in the net

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Kerry Fraser
10/7/2013 1:55:38 PM
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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!

Hi Kerry,

In Saturday night's game between the Canadiens and Flyers, there was a shot from PK Subban at the point that went wide and was stuck in the side of the net forcing a whistle.  At this point, Montreal was on a power play and up 2-0 in the game. My question is, why did the face-off after this whistle stay in the Flyers' end? If a shot from a Canadiens player goes over the glass or onto the back of the net and is blown dead, the face-off should come outside, shouldn't it?
 
I am just wondering how this case is different as it did not touch a Flyers player before becoming lost in the side of the net. This was a very pivotal point in the game as the Canadiens scored shortly after the next draw which remained in the Flyers' zone, putting the game pretty much out of reach. Thanks for taking the time to answer my e-mail and I look forward to your response.

Brett Walker
Melita, MB
 
Brett,

You are correct in your understanding and interpretation of Rule 85 - Puck Out of Bounds. The ensuing face-off should have been conducted on the neutral zone spot nearest to the Flyers blue line once the puck became lodged under the protective netting skirt directly off the shot by PK Subban (which was not deflected by a Flyers player or goalie Ray Emery). I'm giving the game officials a free pass on this one as a result of some miscommunication they apparently received during the video review process from the situation room. You need to give them a pass this time around as well!

First, you need to understand the variations in the rule that could apply in this situation. The overriding premise regarding face-off location when a puck goes out of bounds or becomes unplayable is to provide the team at fault with the least amount of territorial advantage. An unplayable puck is one that becomes lodged in the netting on the outside of either goal.
 
This understanding is verified in Rule 85.5 - "Should an attacking player cause the puck to go out of play or become unplayable in the attacking zone, the face-off shall take place at a neutral zone face-off spot or at a face-off spot in the zone from which the puck left the ice, whichever is less advantageous to the attacking team. For a puck that is unplayable due to being lodged in the netting or as a result of it being frozen between opposing players, the resulting face-off shall be at either of the adjacent face-off spots unless in the opinion of the Referee, the stoppage was caused by the attacking team, in which case the resulting face-off shall be conducted in the neutral zone…"

PK Subban clearly caused the stoppage of play in this situation. (An exception to this rule is when the puck deflects off the goal post or crossbar, when cause by either team, either shot directly or deflected off any player or official, the face-off is always to be conducted in that end zone at the nearest face-off spot. Rule 85.1)

The next logical question we ask is why the face-off remained in the Flyers end zone following video review and a lengthy conference between the Officials to determine puck drop location? We need to look no further than the explanation posted on the NHL Situation Room blog which states: "At 4:42 of the third period in the Flyers/Canadiens game, video review determined that P.K. Subban's shot entered through the side of the net. No goal Montreal."  
  
In looking at the replay, it is clear that the puck did not enter the net but was trapped on the outside of the mesh between the protective skirting. As a result of the Situation Room written explanation, it is only logical to assume that Referee Eric Furlatt would have been informed that the shot entered through the side of the net! Furlatt would communicate this information to his colleagues on the ice during their conference.
 
Given this 'flawed' information, the 'correct' face-off location rule application (oxymoron) would be found in a portion of Rule 85.2 that states; "Should the puck go under the goal either from behind or the side or through the mesh from behind or the side, the ensuing face-off should take place at the nearest face-off spot in the zone nearest to the location where the play was stopped." That location would be in the Flyers end zone to the right of Ray Emery!
 
Whatever the reason Brett, the incorrect face-off location resulted once PK Subban caused the stoppage of play in the attacking zone when his direct shot became caught in the outside netting and rendered unplayable. It would appear to have been lost somewhere in the communication.

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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