Photo via marlies.ca

For starters, I don’t think I recognize the difference between a stanchion and a seam.

The stanchion, from the best I remember, is the big, padded pole that Zdeno Chara guided Max Pacioretty’s head into last NHL season. The seams, the small pads that hold the panes of glass together, are entirely separate.

I’m not sure what the material is made out of, I just know they’re there because a few years ago there was an outbreak of injuries due to the seamless glass. I don’t exactly know the particulars because ergonomics isn’t my thing, but NHL arenas began to slowly implement solid slats that would keep the panes of glass together.

The trade-off for what is apparently a superior product is the wild bounces that you can get off a dump-in. Since the seams stick out, the puck can re-direct off the wrong angles. This leads to goals like Mike Kostka’s at Ricoh Coliseum Thursday night. Off a routine dump-in, the puck took a wild hop off the seam, bounced about 85 degrees, and into the net, fooling Ben Scrivens who had come out to play it. The Norfolk Admirals took a 3-0 lead in the Calder Cup Finals:

(As an aside: Kostka celebrated wildly, going to a knee and beginning to fist pump. I understand the excitement of the moment, but that’s just a goal you don’t celebrate.)

Joe Casciaro’s post this morning was simply titled “Imagine A Stanley Cup Game Ending Like This”. We’ve seen a few oddball hops leading to goals in the finals, including my favourite misplay by Martin Brodeur, but the closest we’ve come in recent memory to a big game ending like this is the famous “Stanchion” goal by Kevin Bieksa to close out last year’s Western Conference Finals.

The confused reaction from the Versus commentary crew:

“Ohh! It hit the stanchion!” as if it were the most obvious thing in the entire world.

Again, it isn’t a stanchion, it’s a seam. Looking back through old games of the 1980s, it doesn’t appear that seamless glass is prevalent, but it’s more of an invention that came with the modern facilities in the 1990s as a way of showing fans more of the product. It’s a little more TV-friendly. The old facilities and some of the cheap ones that teams leased in the 1970s when they were getting on their feet had very short glass by today’s standards, so bounces off the glass weren’t as expected.

Then again, there were lots of different nicks and crannies and quirks about the old rinks. But as the game became modern, the size of the rink became constant in every team’s arena, the boards became smoother and standardized and there were lot fewer things that the puck could hit on dump-in attempts.

Glass between the goal lines is fairly new in the scope of the game, and the seams between each pane introduce an unexpected bit of randomness which ought to give us a couple of extra goals a year like this. Kostka’s goal isn’t the first to bounce in off a seam and won’t be the last. Bieksa’s goal won’t be the last time a player takes advantage of a fluke bounce in such an important situation. This year was the first when seamless glass made its way into every NHL rink, and it appears as though the AHL is following the same course.

Bad bounces, wild hops and short-term luck were already a part of hockey. It’s just when a strange goal like this happens, we notice it a little more. But, man, in a 1-0 overtime game…

Also, Brandon Segal and Ondrej Palat were both offside.