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Fraser: Smith's goal on Luongo should have included penalty

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Kerry Fraser
12/16/2013 3:06:49 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's Bruins at Canucks game, Reilly Smith scores, and then continues on and runs into Luongo. Clearly Smith's elbow contacts Luongo's head. Horrible non-call "hit to the head" after the goal was scored.
Why are the referees so afraid to make the call after a goal is scored?
 
Thanks,
Murray
 
----
Murray:

There is no question that Reilly Smith was guilty of charging when he crashed into Roberto Luongo after the puck entered the net. The goal would stand since the puck crossed the line prior to the infraction but a minor penalty should have been assessed to Smith. 

Let me attempt to explain why the referee might not have reacted to the contact on Luongo and therefore did not call a penalty. From the ref's position (behind the goal line, on the same side of the net that Smith approached 'Lou') the referee was focused on multiple elements of this bang-bang play.

First, there was potential for a penalty shot to be called if a foul from behind had resulted once Christopher Tanev gave chase from his opposite-side defensive position. Tanev attacked from a back-side angle and made stick-to-stick contact with Smith just as the shot was being taken from outside the goal crease. Tanev then slid behind Smith making very light physical contact with the back of the Bruin player.

At this point the referee would have determined that a legal stick check had been attempted by Tanev and would then focus on the puck entering the net to determine a legal goal. Given the close proximity and contact between Smith in the lead lane and Tanev from the back door the referee would most likely also conclude that Smith was bumped into the crease as he attempted to stop. Contact by the defending player would negate goalie interference or charging on the play.

Reilly Smith's primary focus was to score a goal and elude the check of Tanev. Following this, Smith found that he was very tight to Luongo's crease and rapidly running out of real estate after his shot was taken. None of this gives a player the green light to crash into the goalkeeper. He must stop, avoid or minimize any contact with the goalkeeper as defined in rule 69.

There was insufficient effort made by Smith to stop, avoid or even minimize contact with Luongo. While Smith didn't deliver his elbow to make contact with Luongo's head it certainly was the end result with the goalie's posture low and in a butterfly position.

As I stated from the outset of this analysis a charging penalty should have been assessed to Reilly Smith. I would go so far as to say that a penalty would be called 99 out of 100 times for goalie interference on a play such as this if the puck had not entered the net so your point is well taken Murray.

I don't believe however that the majority of referees are reluctant to call a penalty after a goal has been scored. I've said it before and it bears repeating; too much is missed whenever a referee assumes a position behind the goal line! From this location a referee is unable to draw an angle on players crease crashing as he looks through the back of the net and traffic in an effort to find the puck. From that deficient vantage point there was just too much going on for the referee to catch the finishing hit on Roberto Luongo.

Reilly Smith crashes into Luongo (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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