Nashville Predators: What Was That Goalie Interference Call?

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 3: NHL Referee Tim Peal
SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 3: NHL Referee Tim Peal /
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If you watched the Predators vs Panthers game on Tuesday night, you’re probably outraged and confused like me, as to what was that goalie interference call?

Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators could clinch their first ever Central division title with a win on the road at the Florida Panthers. The Panthers, on the other hand, were fighting to keep their Wild Card hopes alive. Nashville played about as well as they could, peppering the net with shots. They racked up 45 shots on Roberto Luongo. On the other end, Pekka Rinne stopped 31 of the shots that he faced. Nashville played tight defense and added solid offense that just could not seem to beat Luongo.

It was a tight game that had a playoff feel, as both teams were playing for high stakes. Similarly, the referees swallowed their whistles, and let the teams play, only calling one penalty all night.

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The Panthers opened up with a ricochet goal late in the first period, then added another halfway through the third. Nashville didn’t quit though, as Roman Josi flipped a backhanded shot into the net with about 4 minutes to play.

Nashville kept the pressure up, and as time wound down, hope looked lost.

But wait!

The always-working Viktor Arvidsson banged a rebound loose, and onto the stick of Filip Forsberg. Forsberg tapped the tying goal in the net with just 1 second to play!

At least we thought…

The Interference

NHL coaches frequently challenge opponents’ goals, whether for offsides or goaltender interference. However, on goals that occur with less than 1 minute remaining, the play is reviewed automatically by the officials in Toronto.

So, Forsberg’s goal went to a replay.

Following the goal, no Panthers players objected the goal. They just skated away in dejection. A reaction like that is usually a tell-tale sign that the players thought it was clean. There was no protest from Florida’s coaching staff either, and Nashville celebrated, as they thought the game was headed to OT.

But, the NHL and its reviews are fickle and often confusing, so it really came as no surprise that they botched this call.

Watch it for yourself and you decide if there is interference…

Personally, I think that is a clean, hardworking goal. The Predators thought the same thing. Head coach Peter Laviolette said that, “we 100 percent disagree with the call”.

Forsberg added that, “It’s a goal. It’s got to be a goal”.

Inconsistency

Between in-game reviews like this, and those by the NHL Player Safety Committee, teams have grown frustrated with the NHL.

Earlier this season, Forsberg was suspended 3 games for an elbowing against Jimmy Vesey.  It wasn’t a malicious hit, just a hard one with a bad outcome. Yet, Forsberg was suspended.

A few nights ago, Boston’s Brad Marchand was called for a blatant cross-check to the face of a Flyers player who was laying on the ice. Most fans would think that a suspension would be a definite for such a play. However, Marchand walked away with a mere $5,000 fine.

Calls like these, and plays like goalie interference have frustrated people all year-long, as they often don’t fall into place with the rules and criteria that the NHL has laid out.

The language in the NHL Rulebook requires an “egregious” move by a forward on the goalie, in order for a goal to be disallowed.

I’m no wordsmith, but nothing about that entire play in front of Luongo looked egregious.

Slippery Slope

With new technology and rules, the NHL is playing a dangerous game.

Yes, it is nice to have advanced technology that can show us crucial offsides, or pucks barely crossing the goal line, that the referees missed. However, as of late, these technologies and rules seem to be hurting the league more than helping it.

The NHL now has the ability to decide the outcome of any given game, if they so wish, and even the suspension of fining of a player, for a play that might not even be penalized on the ice.

Nashville was playing for the Central division title on Tuesday, and Florida a Wild Card spot.

If Nashville had won, the Central division would’ve been won and Florida would’ve been eliminated, making each team’s last two games, pointless. However, now both games are crucial.

Next: March Awards for the Predators

Did the NHL want Florida to win this game?

Maybe someone in Toronto saw something that nobody else did. Or maybe there were bigger implications for this game. Who knows…

All I do know is that the NHL is playing a dangerous game with these new rules and reviews, as they are frustrating and confusing fans and players alike.

Nashville heads to Washington on Thursday night, for their last road game of the regular season.

Go Preds Go!