Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Four

Last night the Montreal Canadiens were leading the Ottawa Senators through 50 minutes by a score of 2-0, when Chris Neil threw a puck towards the Habs net, and Mika Zibanejad directed the puck into the open net with his foot. The referee signaled goal, and the play went upstairs for review.

Here’s the goal.

The goal stood, and the Senators built on that to push the game to overtime, where they eventually won, and took a 3-1 series lead.

Needless to say, a large number of folks on Twitter (and likely outside of social media) disagreed with the call. You don’t need me to drag out straw men to beat up on (“that goal should’nt of counted!”), but a Twitter search for “kicked in Zibanejad” will tell you all you need to know.

Here’s the official NHL rule on scoring off skates:

A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal. A puck that is directed into the net by an attacking player’s skate shall be a legitimate goal as long as no distinct kicking motion is evident.

SO. Should it have counted?

Probably, but man, is that ever one tough call. If you shuck yourself of biases, it’s tough to pin down the right answer, given the fact that Zibanejad seems to want to kick that puck in the net.

There’s no doubt that Mika Zibanejad definitely meant to propel the puck into the net with his foot, and that seems to be what the rule is designed to avoid, but given the strict definition of the language – distinct kicking motion – I think the goal should count.

He does make a little kicking motion, but it doesn’t really come until after the puck has deflected in off his skate. It hits him while he’s stopping and angling his blade, so the mini follow-through is almost inconsequential, regardless of what he was going for.

I think there’s enough of a motion there that had the call on the ice been “no goal,” the evidence in the video would not have been enough to overturn the call and rule it a goal. But with the call on the ice as it was – goal – you have to let that one stand.

Maybe the score had some affect on the call. Maybe the game being in Ottawa mattered. Who knows? But everything considered, I believe the right call was made, regardless of the fact that Zibanejad did seem to have the intent to kick the puck in the net.

It just happened to go in off his skate before he had a chance to.

 

Comments (36)

  1. From personal memory, when Sedin did that against the Kings a few years ago, the goal was disallowed. Of course, I think in that case, the call on the ice was no goal, so the standard of review was different. But that’s the play that immediately came to mind (it was during Game 3, the one the Kings won vs. the Canucks in LA)

  2. Wings fan so no real dog in this fight – Looks like a kicking motion to me.

    It really looks like the same side foot finishing move a soccer player does for a back door tap in. I woulda called it no goal.

  3. “…had the call on the ice been “no goal,” the evidence in the video would not have been enough to overturn the call and rule it a goal.”

    That is the perfect way to sum this up. Happened fast on the ice, goal appears to be OK – following the written law – but also is SO CLOSE to that distinct kicking motion.

    Can’t overturn whatever was called, not enough there.

    • All crying aside, the real telling thing is that in the seconds after the puck goes in, none of the Habs on the ice are complaining, they are just skating away, Price is not complaining, Bergeron is not hollering that it is kicked in. If there had been an obvious kicking motion, they certainly would have been a lot of reaction. Super slow motion may exagerate the skate plant to make it appear that it could have been a kick, but in real time, there is no kicking motion. If there had been, you know there would be a lot different reaction on the ice and on the Habs bench.

  4. Easy solution: Allow scoring with your skate.

  5. After watching replay last night a few times, think the saving grace for Zibanejad was the 2nd skate. Both skates basically came in with a stopping motion. Only thing that edges me into the good goal category.

    One skate comes in with a motion like that and easy to call it a kicking motion, both skates come in looks like a stopping motion more than a kicking motion.

    Wouldn’t have been upset to see it called the other way either. Very close, probably whatever ruling on the ice was, was going to be final ruling.

  6. Oilers fan and from a completely neutral perspective, I was pretty surprised that goal was allowed. I’ve seen plenty of goals where guys simply angled the puck in with their skates and it was disallowed, the first one that comes to mind is a Yakupov goal that was disallowed in a game against the Flames in mid-April, even though it was called a good goal on the ice.

    The league realllly needs to clarify what exactly it means by “distinct kicking motion,” that phrase is way too open to interpretation and in my experience, it hasn’t been called consistently across games since its inception. If I was a habs fan, I’d be pretty irate too.

  7. Definite intent, but allowable within the rules. I hadn’t thought about the standard of review, but you’re correct there, not enough evidence to overturn. That’s a smart play by Z.

    But how about that shanked slap-shot off the face-off? D-men has the sand wedge pattern on his stick there, it sails waaay over the net.

  8. Substance over form… he kicked that in.

  9. I don’t understand how anyone with any hockey knowledge can think this should be considered a ‘good goal’, when:

    1. He made no attempt to play the puck with his stick…didn’t even flinch, nothing.
    2. He angled his skate and followed through to direct the puck into the net.

    Horrible call and not the only ridiculous one made by the refs last night. Series should be 2-2.

    • You should re-watch the slow-motion replay; it actually deflects off his stick into his skate. So, yes, he does make an attempt to play it with his stick.

      In fact, if you look closely, it looks like it’s redirected by a Habs player’s stick into Z-bad’s stick, into his skate and in.

      • Just because it deflected off his stick does not mean he intended to make a play with it.

        He pushed the puck forward with his skate enough that it should have been disallowed. I’m not quite sure what the reviewers were watching on that one.

  10. When I refereed, the rule of thumb was if the players skate left the ice it was a “kicking motion” and would be no goal. If the skate stayed on the ice then you allowed the goal. That would be back in the late 90′s when Hockey Canada changed the rule to allow deflected goals.

    The best solution I think would be to disallow all deflected goals. The point of hockey is to shoot the puck into the net with your stick. If they decided to disallow all of the deflections off of teammates etc then I’d be ok with that. Scoring would probably drop but it would get ride of these debates.

  11. I thought the rule was to protect goaltenders. The jdea being that if we allowed any goal kicked in, there would.be.more incentive for skaters.to flail their feet around. Saying you can redirect it means goalies.should be relatively safe.

    I’m a sens fan and I was at the game. I didn’t think it would count based on the scoreboard video, but when I got home it made more sense to me.

  12. Habs fan. I’m with Justin on that one. Could have gone both ways. In the past I remember watching similar plays thinking “no goal” and those goals were allowed, if the kicking motion isn’t more obvious than that. So I can’t complain about that goal.

    There were also 2 very bad icing calls against the Habs, but you can’t blame a loss on icing calls. The Canadiens lost when Bourque joined Prust in the Sens zone with 35 seconds to play. He should have stayed behind with Plekanec to force the Sens to dump the puck and hopefully keep the puck in the corners for the last 30 seconds.

  13. “He does make a little kicking motion, but it doesn’t really come until after the puck has deflected in off his skate. It hits him while he’s stopping and angling his blade, so the mini follow-through is almost inconsequential, regardless of what he was going for.”

    I think that right there is the reason they called it the way they did and you can only see that in super slow mo really. tough call to make either way really.

  14. Yes Pep. My rule of thumb is if you need not only the replay but the slow-motion to see a kicking motion, it’s a good goal.That’s the case here ( doesn’t mean I wasn’t wishing for something else while they were reviewing )

  15. Sens fan who was at the game and thus couldn’t see anything but towels and joy. No distinct kicking motion. He totally deflects it in, but deflection and kicking aren’t the same thing.

    If people are gonna yell olé olé olé, can they get upset if some soccer breaks out?

    Maybe Mika is a distinct society?

  16. B’s fan. Zibanejad definitely intended to direct and deflect the puck towards the net. Kicking motion, no, not really. A kick would mean the skate comes up off the ice (as said above).

    Just think, 10 years ago, the goal would be disallowed and Zib would be in the box for 2 for touching the paint.

  17. Habs fan so my bias is clearly in one favor. The thing that bothers me is that the way that this can be seen as a good goal is if the goal is banked off of his foot in a stopping motion. But when you look at his feet – that is pretty clearly not what is happening with his left foot. I mean – would he have to rear back with his foot and boot it for it to be called back? As most others have noted – he definitely brings his foot forward – and if he were trying to stop – he wouldn’t have need to replant his left foot to gain his balance after the puck went into the net.

    Either way – the Habs sloppy play in the dying seconds are why they lost the game – not this play.. but that hurt to see the goal called in for sure. I understand the argument for a good goal on this one – but to my mega biased eyes the justification and visual evidence don’t match up.

  18. As a Toronto fan I have enjoyed every aspect of this series. The goal is good but very, very close…..it’s not so much a “kicking” motion as a forward stopping motion. He just in the “nic of time” creates that illusion of stopping so its a tough call for the ref’s.

  19. Rangers fan. In a nutshell, good goal.

    I think the rule is to prevent soccor goals, when the puck is laying there in the crease, and Raffi Torres has your stick firmly clenched in his armpit and the only way to score is to kick it in.

    The rule should be amended to include the word “PROPEL” with a distinct kicking motion.

  20. Let’s see, forward leg motion while the puck is coming towards you. Na he didn’t kick it. It was a figure of our imagination. Incredible! Who is the person who made this decision to count this as a goal? is he for real! Wow! talk about the agony of defeat because of poor judgement. Must of been a person who cant wait to have the Habs eliminated. Remember Carma is a ?????

    Wow has the game changed!
    Do you want a comment on the icing call as well?

  21. Forget about if it should counted for a second….lets focus on the rule itself…

    Does it make a difference if a player kicks in a puck vs taps it in with his stick? logically think about this for a second….your in an intense game on ice and your objective is to put the puck behind that line. To me i dont care how you do it, as long as you CAN do it. His stick was probably being hooked anyways, so why not kick it in?

    NHL you want to increase goal scoring??? how about you let players kick it in as well as let them bat it in with a high stick!!! MORE GOALS the BETTER….

    • Players are wearing sharp metal blades on their feet. Allowing kicked goals could increase injuries during pileups and coverups.

      If it wasn’t for that safety issue, I’d be all for kicking.

  22. Definitely should have counted. It looks like the pass would have been on his stick, but there’s a slight deflection off the Canadiens defenseman so it hits his feet instead. I think the “kicking motion” is just him stopping.

  23. There is no rule against a “distinct skating motion”. If he swerved a skate to deflect the puck in, good on him, but if the skate never left the ice, it’s not a kick. The point of the “no kicking” rule was to protect (then maskless) goalies from guys getting all Shaolin with sharp objects attached to their feet. If the blades on the ice, the goalie is protected.

  24. that is an embarrasment to the league yet again!! That was totally “kicked in” former referee Kerry Fraser said it should not have been a goal, its unbelieveable the people saying its a good goal???? every person watching that game was shocked it counted, if it doesnt go in off a stick it should not count. if it hit any other part of your body as you stand there and goes in fine, hands and feet should not count, what a Joke, the Habs got robbed and the icing calls were a joke as well, the NHL playoffs once again being called by guys with hidden agenda’s , wtf???? Ive scene less kicking motion goals not count, I’m a Bruins fan and I say the Habs got robbed! Senators have had horse shoes up the Walrus all Series, ? Hope the Habs show some Pride and win the next game by playing all 60 minutes!!

  25. It was obviously kicked in. We’ve all seen bad officiating this year (I don’t know why it’s been so bad but it has) and it has all culminated in this playoff series, specifically game 4. Only in the NHL do the officials change the way they call a game based on when in the game it occurs and if it’s the playoffs or not. It’s like if the NFL decided that it would use CFL rules for the playoffs. It would be a joke, just like this is. Time to get into the 21st century with football and allow coach challenges and on-ice instant replay. As for the “War Room” in Toronto, how about actually putting senior officials in there instead of retired players? I’m sorry but the facts are the facts, men don’t generally choose to pursue pro sports because they did well in school. We need brains, logic and reason in the War Room, not brawn, machismo and testosterone.

  26. Actually if you look the replay from behind the goaler you can see his feet leaving the ice after the kick. Also look the way he brakes. If you have ever skated, you know this is not natural. Bad decision. Part of every sport , just gotta live with it. Love the habs players attitude.

  27. You ask “Should Mika Zibanejad’s “kicked-in” goal have counted last night?”

    & the simple answer is reply is “F*ck NO”,

    This is what retired Kerry Fraser had to say & not sure if this was already posted- worth posting AGAIN!

    FRASER: THE VERDICT ON ZIBANEJAD- NO GOAL!
    retired NHL Ref Kerry Fraser partial quote in response:
    “The quick answer however is that Mika Zibanejad did NOT utilize a natural stopping motion with his left skate as he entered Carey Price’s goal crease & focused on the incoming puck. Instead Zibanejad demonstrated a turn of that skate toward the net coupled with a distinct forward motion toward the goal as he contacted the puck. NO GOAL!”

  28. All crying aside, the real telling thing is that in the seconds after the puck goes in, none of the Habs on the ice are complaining, they are just skating away, Price is not complaining, Bergeron is not hollering that it is kicked in. If there had been an obvious kicking motion, they certainly would have been a lot of reaction. Super slow motion may exagerate the skate plant to make it appear that it could have been a kick, but in real time, there is no kicking motion. If there had been, you know there would be a lot different reaction on the ice and on the Habs bench.

  29. It shouldnot have been allowed. Kerry Fraser , a former referee thinks that it should not have been allowed afer reviewing it. to argue it hit his skate beofer he kicked is splitting hairs. Once he started the motion the intent is clearly to kick it in. In the regular season I could see erring on the sied of caution and leave it stand, but in the playoffs where every gaol shoul dbe a clear goal, this one should not have counted.

    Whatever happens, this series will be tainted by the comedy of errors that the officials had leading up to the goal and the icing calls made for the second Ottawa goal. the NHL needs to get better officials who are able to make calls under pressure. I guess with so many games it’s hard to get good ones for all the series. Once the first game was over and seeing the result, the nhl should have reassigned its best to this series until things calmed down. The officals who are doing the games have lost the confidence , certainly of Montreal , and I suspect of Ottawa, who if they lose tonight will no doubt claim the refereeing was biased to make up for the last game. No wonder the NHL is considered a bush sport league

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