Goaltender Interference?

Last night in Toronto Colton Orr scored the game-winning goal for the Leafs.  No, that’s not the strange part.  The issue with the goal was Orr’s apparent goaltender interference that went uncalled.  Apparently no call was made because Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen was out of his crease when the contact with Orr took place.

The Florida Panthers were pretty unhappy about it:

“It’s obvious I don’t know what goalie interference is,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I don’t know what hitting from behind is, I don’t know what interference is. I need to call the league and get myself a tutorial on what those penalties are.”

Said captain Bryan McCabe: “We all saw it was interference. Refs make mistakes once in a while and they missed the call. Obviously it’s a game-changer. It was a 1-1 game, probably going to overtime. They missed a call, blatant interference. Clemmer had no chance to stop that puck. What are you going to do?’”

Litter Box Cats, a Florida Panthers blog, called the situation “a travesty of officiating” and an “absolute embarrassment to what the NHL is reportedly attempting to promote.”  The Rat Trick, another Panthers blog, has “no idea how the officials allowed this goal.”

Both sites, through all their hyperbole, definitely have a good point. It was certainly a questionable non-call.

In addition to that play, another goaltender interference issue came up last night as the Philadelphia Flyers were playing the Buffalo Sabres.

The play in question starts at around the 28 second mark of that video.  Ryan Miller wasn’t very happy about what transpired, but the goal stood.

So, was either call actually goaltender interference?  According to the NHL rulebook, a goal can be disallowed for goaltender interference if:

(1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.

The rulebook then states that “the overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player.”

Could Clemmensen or Miller move freely within the goal crease?

In Clemmensen’s sake, it’s quite obvious that he couldn’t.  When the shot came, Orr was already leaning on him pretty heavily.  On the other hand, it looked like Ryan Miller was able to move around freely and if the Flyers’ player was in his way, he looked to be pushed into the crease by a member of the Sabres.

However, goaltender interference, like all penalty calls, are subject to the judgment and the view of the on ice officials.  Hockey is an incredibly fast-moving game so it’s entirely possible that a referee didn’t see the Orr infraction.  Though you would think the official would be keeping his eye on the net (and the goaltender) in that situation.