Somebody needs to explain NHL officiating to me.
In any other sport, if you knock over the person in front of you like an anxious Mom at a Black Friday sale trying to get the last big-screen television, a whistle blows and some sort of penalty is called.
But apparently not in the NHL.
As you can see in the video here, Ryan Reaves cross-checks John Carlson to the ice like a snowplow clearing a road. With that road cleared, he easily took a nine-iron to the puck, launching it on an upward trajectory and scored what would turn out to be the winning goal.
Imagine if this happened in football: A tight end is in the end zone, pushes the safety in the back to the ground, then catches the ball for a touchdown.
Penalty every time.
Imagine in basketball. Two players are jostling for position and while the ball caroms off the rim, one pushes the other in the back to the floor. Left alone, the other player gets the rebound and easily scores a layup.
Foul every time. Maybe even a flagrant foul.
How about baseball? Runner is caught in a rundown between first and second. A fielder gets in his way and the runner gives a two-handed shove to the fielder, driving his nose into the dirt before making it safely to the bag.
He’s out. Probably ejected from the game too.
So how could this happen in the National Hockey League? I mean, I know I’m a casual fan who does not know every minute rule of the league. But this was not subtle. A dog with a note in his mouth would have called it. And before you think that yes, it’s obvious now with the benefit of instant replay, NHL officials had that benefit during the game too.
Many a time officials will huddle, consult league headquarters, and ask them to look at all the angles when a goal is scored. They look at everything from a possible goaltender interference penalty, to whether the puck actually moved across the line. This one didn’t take a lot of looks. Reaves knocked Carlson down like a starving man on his way to an all you can eat buffet, then used that advantage to score on a clear path for a goal.