Sorry, that was a good goal

Let’s start, unconventionally, with the press conference. The entire Tampa coach John Cooper’s press conference after Nazem Kadri’s 12:02 victory in overtime gave Avalanche a 3-1 lead in the Finals. It was one long question – one odd answer that started with Cooper gushing about how much he loves the NHL and ends with a vague refusal to talk about the winning goal for reasons, Cooper indicated, that will soon become clear. ominous! If you haven’t already read what put the bee in Cooper’s hood, you’ll be hard-pressed to put any part of this answer into context. It might even be a fun game for you: try to guess what the hell he’s talking about.

Well, the target of my destiny now. It was a little weird, for reasons completely unrelated to the actual controversy. Kadri, returning from thumb surgery after an injury in match 3 of the conference final, jumped off the bench, took a pass at the blue line, split the men’s defense, and smashed one of them through an impossibly small gap in Andrei Vasilevsky’s shield. No one realized it because the disk of the disk seemed to have evaporated.

But no, there he was, seated atop her little rack, securely in the net, and the fourth hard-earned game was the Colorado game. “This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Kadri said.

Any drama lost in the late celebration was definitely made up for by Cooper’s dark fallout. Viewers were perplexed: The goal looked like a perfectly fine goal, certainly something more certain than, say, Tampa’s first goal of the night on Darcy Comber without a mask (which was also a good goal, it has to be said).

It soon became apparent that Tampa believed Colorado had scored the winning goal with six snowboarders, and should have been eliminated and assessed a penalty too much. Let’s take a look at the patented Defector MegaZoom™. Avs count:

Indeed, these are six snowboarders on the ice as Kadri approaches the top of the circuit, with Nathan McKinnon on the right leaving – but not letting go – the ice. Kadri was replacing McKinnon in the change, and the Lightning believes Kadri jumped too soon.

“They were able to make an interesting change to the game-winning goal, and that was the difference,” Tampa assistant coach Derek Lalonde said. “It’s going to get ugly. We’re probably talking about a 50-foot change. Kadri obviously changed for McKinnon. It’s a very bad look. Unfortunately, we’re on a bad end.”

Here’s the thing: This is a change of line. Change the line of the natural ass. Nobody waits for the skiers to descend before they jump. I hate using the “not whistle in a playoff” construction, because that could imply that non-contact is just a job for referees swallowing their whistles in the post-season, so I’ll simply say it. To get whistles in the regular season game, too.

Too many men, like every hockey call except for offside (a problem for another day), are called to the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law. this is good! You don’t want whistles every time the team has six snowboarders during the shift. You will be deaf from all the whistles. If they call the letter of the law, well, look at the screen above again: Tampa, making its own change, had seven skaters.

In the spirit of the law, Kadri jumped on the ice after McKinnon pulled himself out of the play. No, McKinnon wasn’t the described five feet from the seat, but that’s basically a suggestion. And there was plenty of time for Tampa to pick up the body and put it on Kadri – but they didn’t.

The NHL hockey operations issued a statement after the game that confirmed that these calls belonged to functional officials, not rulebooks, and the officials saw what they saw.

Too many men on ice is a judgment that can be made by any of the four officials on the ice.

After the match, the Hockey Operations Department met with the four officials as was their usual protocol. When discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials advised that they had not seen a large number of men on the ice in the play.

This call is not subject to video review by either Hockey Ops or on-ice officials.

I feel frustrated in Tampa. It is a flexible enough rule that, if it were against me in an awkward situation like this, I would be more unjustly persecuted than Jesus himself. But I’m not Tampa! I’m just a hockey blogger without a horse in the race, and the NHL where that’s a good target is better than the NHL where it isn’t.

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