Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gladiators Have Rough Night, Downed 5-2

The Gwinnett Gladiators lost the chance to take first in the division by a 5-2 loss to the South Carolina Stingrays Wednesday night.

An affiliate of the Washington Capitals, the Stingrays had a 4-0 lead going into the third period. Those are rough stats to overcome. It was simply a bad night between the pipes for Gladiator netminder Joe Palmer as the shot totals were almost even - 26-25 in favor of South Carolina. Tyler Murovich and Tyler Kindle had the tallies for Gwinnett, but they were simply not enough to rally past goaltender Philipp Grubauer and the rest of the South Carolina Stingrays.

This loss broke a 13 game home undefeated streak for the Gladiators, an affiliate of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres. The crowd numbers were low, unaided by bad weather and, well, a Wednesday night.

Expect more in attendance this weekend as the Glads play Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the "Pink in the Rink" where the ice will be dyed pink. Saturday is Girls Gone Gladiators Night.

Suspension Coming For Dallas' Nystrom?

Not likely, but here's the play that has Pen fans crying foul.

The call on the ice was 2 minutes for roughing. Letang left the game. He had played in 17 games before this one after returning from a concussion injury earlier..

Really? Roughing? This was an illegal check to the head. But in no way was that roughing as defined by Rule 51.1:

"Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent..."

Yeah, that's not roughing. He clearly used his arm to make contact with the head. The question is, was it incidental contact? A good hit? Did Letang make a sudden movement? Should this be a suspension? Is this a case of elbowing or illegal check to the head?

Let's see.

Elbowing. Rule 45:

"Elbowing shall mean the use of an extended elbow in a manner that may or may not cause injury."

Eh, okay. I'm not seeing that as an extended elbow, so let's drop that from consideration. But what about the new Rule 48 - Illegal Check to the Head:

"A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered."

Okay. The head was the principal point of contact. (That is a correct use of that word by the way. I always thought that princiPAL was for school administrators only. I was wrong.) Anyway, the head got the majority of the hit. But did Letang put himself in a vulnerable position AND was the head targeted.

Me thinks this could be a suspension, but not terribly likely. Oh, and the call was wrong on the ice.

Dallas plays Friday in Edmonton, so expect to hear something very soon from Shanahan if he decides to make a ruling.

The concussion earlier earned Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens a 3-game suspension.

At the time, NHL VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan said that Letang made "the decision to sacrifice his body, and must accept the possibility of taking a hit to make the play." But he also said: "What no player should expect is that his head will be picked and made the principal point of contact on such a hit."

The two plays are very similar. I don't think Letang's head changed significantly prior to or with the puck either time. But, what's really different is that the players were both skating to the puck at different speeds.

I think that this will not be a suspension because Nystrom appeared to minimize contact. He didn't extend the elbow. He didn't appear to shift his weight. Letang's shoulder did drop a little bit as he brought his stick back to his body after chipping the puck along the boards. Nystrom actually looks like he is prepared to make contact more with the boards than check an opponent.

We'll just have to wait and see.

ECHL Coaches Go Crazy

I don't talk a lot about the ECHL, mainly because I work for an ECHL team.

So I'm just going to show the following clips from two seperate games in the past week with no commentary.

That was Toledo Walleye coach Nick Vitucci. After his stick, water bottle, and clipboard toss, fans followed with empty cups and two octopi (the Walleye are a Detroit Red Wings affiliate). Apparently, the octopus twirl is not banned in the ECHL.

Vitucci was fined and suspended one game. Oh, and it was NASCAR Night at the arena which explains the jerseys.

Speaking of NASCAR, did you see the fire on the track at this year's Daytona 500?

During a caution lap, Juan Pablo Montoya hit the back of a jet dryer being used to dry the track. It exploded and the jet engine fuel caught on fire. No one was hurt, but the race was halted for two hours.

Back to ECHL.

Colorado Eagles' Coach Chris Stewart "surrended" to the Referee, Curtis Marouelli.

Apparently, he felt the officiating was bad. This came on a night when the ECHL announced that Colorado would host the 2013 ECHL All Star Game.

Again, I offer no comments.

I've got to get ready for work.

The Gladiators are hosting the South Carolina Stingrays in a very crucial divisional showdown. South Carolina currently has the top spot in the division, by one point over the Glads.

I have included links to ECHL standings and Gladiator information on the blog as well as they too begin their playoff push. I'll hopefully do an entry on the ECHL soon.

Helpful Link

As the playoffs approach, the NHL has put up a "if the playoffs were today" page.

Here it is.

It's a quick easy way for fans to do the math on their team to see if they are perhaps playoff bound and what they would face.

The Jets (68 pts) are currently in 9th behind division leading Florida (72 pts) and 8th seed Washington (69 pts).

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

NHL Refines Clock Procedures

The NHL has announced that the Situation Room will pay closer attention to the last minute of each period following the odd clock stoppage on February 1 in Los Angeles. That stoppage, if you recall, gave the Kings an extra second in the third period which was enough time for them to score a goal, breaking a tie with Columbus.

The makers of that particular clock, Daktronics, examined the Staples Center clock and found no defects. The off-ice crew was also interviewed and nothing was found to be fishy. Colin Campbell said he was "completely satified".

However, Campbell said he will rotate crew members' duties "to avoid any thoughts there may be issues with the clock when opposing teams play at the Staples Center."

There's more:

"We have initiated a number of steps to ensure there will be no clock issues in all arenas in the NHL," Campbell said in an email.

"We are observing all 'last minutes' of each period to make sure there are no 'blips' or 'pauses' in the last minute in the video booths upstairs. In our new video room in Toronto we now receive live feeds of the overheads so we are not 'slaved' to TV waiting to see if they show the overheads.

"We will find a way to bleed the clock feed into the overheads now. We have implemented a few other items into the clock process as well to make sure there can be no burps."

While that's all well and good, I still have questions.

What procedures exactly?

What if there is a blurp? Will it just magically appear back on the scoreboard with no explanation?

I don't think this finding is exactly common knowledge to most NHL fans. So here's the scenerio. Your team is up by a goal with less than a minute to play. The opposing team's pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and they are peppering your tender with amazing shots. A stop is held onto in the crease and the faceoff is about to happen. You glance at the clock. It goes from 15.4 seconds to go to 17.1 seconds to go. Wait, what?

Yeah, there was a problem with the clock and it was correctly. But without this being common knowledge, that's a problem. Unless there's an announcement of some kind.

I know, I know. The possibility is pretty far-fetched, but that's why I want to know the procedures.

Will there be corrections in the final minutes of a period for honest human error? A goal is scored but the clock runs for a few 1/10's of a second. Are those put back on? The clock goes on after a whistle for a moment. The clock is delayed ever-so-slightly on a face off. Are those two things going to result in time-manipulation? If so, why not all the other micro-seconds that are technically lost or extended throughout the game?

Or is it just the burps in time like in Los Angeles where the clock just stops for no apparent reason and is not related to human reaction time (like faceoffs or whistles being blown)?

Amazingly, the NHL already has a rule dealing with human response time when it comes to scoring a goal. That's why I'm surprised they aren't revealing what they plan to do in the final minute in time blip procedures. It may need to wait until next season and it can be properly addressed with the Board of Governors or the NHLPA and until then it will just look at obvious errors, like LA's incident.

By the way, the human factor I'm referring to is explained in Rule 31:

Rule 31.2 says, in paragraphs 2 & 3:

"As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening.

"In the event of any dispute regarding time or the expiration of penalties, the matter shall be referred to the Referee for adjustment and his decision shall be final. He may use the Video Goal Judge to assist in rendering the final decision."

So there you go. Really, this might not be so much a tweeking of the current rules, but an expansion of the tools used to enforce them.

The Playoff Picture as the Trade Deadline Passes

The NHL Trade Deadline was Monday marking the begining of the playoff push. And I've added a few things to the blog.

First off, I'm a Jets fan. I don't talk about them as much as I once did because I wanted to be neutral and not viewed as having Winnipeg-colored glasses on. But I will be updating you more on the Jets on this blog as the Jets compete for a playoff spot and potential division championship. I've also included some links above and to the side to aid in quickly gathering Jets info and goodies. Their loss to the Oilers Monday didn't help them gain those oh-so-needed points. Going into the third period with a 2-1 lead seemed promising, but four unanswered goals by Edmonton put things out of reach for Winnipeg.

Link to video

Another day, Jets. Thursday to be specific.

So where does everyone stack up right now? Here is a very brief snapshot of how things are taking shape right now according to five different categories for anyone who hasn't been keeping up this season. Of course, things are subject to change and nothing is set. No one has clinched a spot and no one is statistically eliminated yet. But if the Blue Jackets snags a playoff birth, I will buy the mayor of Columbus a box of Tim Horton donuts. Hell, I'll buy him two.

Let me put it this way: Columbus currently has 43 points after 62 games. The Central Division points leader is a shared title at the moment between the Red Wings and the Blues with 85 points. So if Columbus won out and both teams lost the whole of their remaining schedule, Columbus still wouldn't have enough points to catch up to them. Just saying.

Anyway, let's get to grouping.

Here are the five categories I see: Dominators, Probables, Bubbles, Long Shots, and Nopes.

Let's start at the bottom and work our way up.

The Nopes: They sit at the bottom of their conferences and don't have a chance to make the playoffs.

Yeah, I know. If you haven't been paying attention, it is shocking to see Montreal on the list. But they have a mere 58 points after 63 games. Edmonton is also having a really rough season (56 points) that is glossed over a bit only because of the team below them; poor poor Columbus.

Moving on.

The Long Shots: Not eliminated, but they are sitting on the outside looking in. They will need help from other teams to have a chance and aren't in control of their destiny as much.

Minnesota started off so promising. Buffalo is a surprise, as is Anaheim. Again, they could all make a go, but sit in the double-digits of the conference standings right now. The West doesn't have as high of a ladder. Calgary is in 11th with 67 points under the 70 points needed to get into a tie for 8th. Toronto's in 10th with 65, also three points away from the last playoff spot. Still, all of these teams will need amazing March runs coupled with some slumps by those above them.

Let's continue.

The Bubbles: These teams are right there on the edge. Depending on what day you look; they are in the playoffs or out. Assuming they keep playing the way they are playing, it will simply depend on who has the best week to end the year really.

Notice that all of the Southeast Division teams have been listed by now, and no one going above Bubble status. Florida is 3rd in the division (only because of the 1, 2, 3 rankings going to division leaders) with 70 points leading Winnipeg with 68 (good for the 8th and final spot) and Washington just below the line in 9th with 67 points. If they just start destroying each other to clinch that division, Toronto or maybe even Buffalo could sneak into the playoffs with a good run from the Long Shot category meaning the only representative from the Southeast would be the division leader. I see them trading points around and sending two, not just the division winner. Washington is such a disappointment. They were picked pre-season as Stanley Cup contenders. Now, they will be grateful just to play in the second week of April.

Over in the Western Conference, 3 points seperate spots 7-10. There will be a battle in the Pacific Division, much like the Southeast only a lot bloodier. Phoenix does look a little stronger, but their two-point division lead is by no means safe. The main reason it will be more fierce in that division is there isn't any significant weak link. Anaheim has 64 points at the bottom of the division versus current leader Phoenix at 73 points. The Avalanche may have a slightly easier time in the Conference standings because of it, though they are in the middle of this "family feud". As the season ends and many games are against division opponents, Colorado will face teams that don't have as much of a shot to make the playoffs while everyone in the Pacific will be after each other's throats.

Okay, let's move on.

The Probables. These guys are likely to make the playoffs if they keep winning. I know that sounds redundant, but you know what I mean. They are much more in control of their own destiny. They will still be fighting for position, but aren't in great danger of missing the playoffs altogether.

That's a lot of teams from the Eastern Conference. While they will fight and jockey for positions, they are probably not going to slip down into the frey created at the cutoff line. That's all Southeast squabbles. The West has just Chicago. Really, it would probably be more fair to send Chicago into the Bubble league since they are just a few points above the others. The Blackhawks had a horrible run just a bit ago, but seemed to have righted the ship, so I'm thinking they are probably in.

Who's doing the damage to these people?

The Dominates. These are the teams that are laying waste to the opponents. A trail of destruction in their wake. Basically, they are in the playoffs barring an epic meltdown.

Yeah, it is an almost mathematical certainty that the Rangers will take the East. They have 86 points. Their closest competetion comes from Boston and Pittsburgh knoted at 77 points each. The West has a horserace going on for top of the Conference, and frankly the NHL. St. Louis and Detroit have 85 points each with Nashville not too far behind at 81 points. The Predators are in 5th place in the Conference (don't forget the division leaders taking 1-3) and 8 points above the 6th place Blackhawks with 73 points. Who's on top? With 87 points, it's none other than the defending Presidents' Throphy winners, the Vancouver Canucks.

Oh, and that's not a mistake to those that just tuned in to the NHL rankings for this year. The Blues are two points out of being the best team in the NHL according to points, and are first in a hard division - thanks to a tiebreaker over the Red Wings. The Central Division is the best in the NHL with three teams over 80 points at the trade deadline. The fourth place team in that Central Division, the Blackhawks, have the same amount of points as the first place team of the Pacific Division in the West and more than the current Southeast Division leader over in the east. That's right. Four of the five teams are playoff bound in that division. And even the fourth place team would be a division leader if they moved. Who's left out? Columbus. Kinda explains why they are in the NHL basement right now, doesn't it?

Those are just my opinions as to the chances the teams have in making the playoffs. Another prediction: The Stanley Cup will be the Rangers versus the Red Wings in an Original Six matchup. If so, it would be the first Original Six Stanley Cup since 1973 when Scotty Bowman and his Montreal Canadiens defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games.

We'll see how right I am. Probably not very given my prediction for the Winter Classic.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Suspension for Ottawa's Turris, Shanahan Weighs In

Kyle Turris of Ottawa delievered a hit to Boston's Joe Corvo on Saturday night.

After a player review (done very quickly in the event of a suspension since Ottawa played on Sunday), the Department of Player Safety decided not to suspend for the hit.

This was the 45 hearing this season. Of those, there have been 37 suspensions and an additional 4 fines with four players (including Turris) not recieving any type of punishment following the hearing.

Shanahan had this to say:

"We know and understand the perspective of the player is to get himself out of any supplemental discipline. No player lies down and says give me something. But, on the closer calls like this one, it's important for us to hear from the players' perspective on the play and it has an influence on our decision."

Shanahan said the contact to Corvo's head was made after the Bruins' defenseman opened his left shoulder following his pass. However, Shanahan said the Department of Player Safety did not deem it to be intentional or reckless. He said that Turris' feet were on the ice as he made the hit, but they come off as he's following through on the hit, "almost like he's falling into the boards himself."

"Like some of the suspensions we have had, it wasn't a case of him launching up high into the head," Shanahan added. "All players to a certain degree come off their feet when they drive through a check. That wasn't prior to the hit and he wasn't launching up."

What is facinating to me is how many people are comparing the hit to Ovechkin's which got him a three game suspension.

Link to Video

There are so many differences. Where to begin.

Ovechkin had an upward movement; Turris did not.
Ovechkin skated perpendicular to deliever the hit; Turris was more parallel.
Ovechkin left his feet prior to contact; Turris did not leave his feet until after skate-to-skate contact.
Ovechkin did not slow down; Turris did slightly.

Okay, so I hope it is clear that the Ovechkin hit and the Turris hit are different.

Boston fans are up in arms comparing this hit to the three game suspension for their very own Bruin defenseman Andrew Ference just a month ago. And for much better reasons.

Link to video

Okay, so there are some similiarites. The skate-to-skate contact first is the most obvious, but there is also the ascertion that neither Ference nor Turris intended to harm their victim, which the NHL believed in both cases. So then why does Turris get off while Ference sits for a trio of games?

Well, here's a few differences.

There was no sudden movement for Ference's victim; but there was with Turris.
The Ference hit was perpendicular to the boards all the way; Turris skated more even with the boards until the hit.
Ference's victim left the game; Turris' victim played on.
The impact Ference delivered was a push from behind (clearly defined in the rules as illegal); Turris intended to deliever more of a full body hit.

That last point is probably the most telling and the biggest difference some Boston fans are currently misquoting. Ference never intended to injure his opponent. That's what he told the NHL. And they believed him. Turris never intended to hit the head, but deliver a full body check. And the NHL believed him.

See the difference? Ference never intended the outcome of his actions. Turris didn't intend to do his actions, but couldn't help it because of circumstance despite his efforts. Ference could not have agrued he didn't mean to push his oppenent. That would have been a lie the NHL wouldn't have bought. There is clear evidence he intended to, and did, push his oppenent on the numbers.

Hopefully that clears up some of the differences between the two hits compared to this recent one.

But that doesn't answer this question: Should Turris have been suspended?

Just because his actions aren't cookie-cutter to some previous ones doesn't automatically get him out of punishment.

If you rewatch the video (with the sound down to ignore the spirited NESN Jack Edwards), I would argue that the NHL made the right decision. There was no injury on the play. There was contact prior to the skates leaving the ice.

Look at these shots from the video:

Here you can see Corvo with the puck on his stick and Turris in line to make a clean, full body hit. You can read the number on Corvo's sleeve meaning he is turned in such a way that a hit at that moment will be a shoulder hit.

This is immediately after the puck was passed and the moment of the first part of the hit. You can see it as a black blur along the dasher under the "I" and first "Z" in PIZZA. You can see the crest on Corvo's chest pretty well meaning he has opened himself up more (because of the pass). Both of Turris' skates are on the ice. Turris is also hitting with his entire side of his body.

After the hit, the skates are off the ice. In every video about a suspension, Shanahan acknowledges that after certain hits, players skates may come off the ice.

I would encourage you to watch the video again. It is hard to fully digest looking at replays or frame-by-frames. All that being said, the on-ice call for boarding was the right one. Clearly boarding due to the violent collision with the boards. Intent is not needed for a boarding call. The purpose of supplementary discipline appears to be more on intent, or most of the time these days, recklessness.

Let's go back to the Ference suspension. Again, the problem wasn't that Ference intended to injure his opponent, but that it is reckless to push someone from behind while coming up on the boards at such speed at a distance that they cannot recover from being off-balance before violently crashing into them, probably head first. It was reckless of Ovechkin to leave his feet to rise up and deliver a hit against the boards. In the eyes of the NHL (and me, frankly) it was not reckless for Turris to deliver what would have been a clean check had Corvo not suddenly change his body and head position. If Corvo had kept the puck, it very easily might not have been a boarding call as Corvo would have obsorbed the hit and it wouldn't have been as violent.

Even if one completely disagrees with me and the NHL, I hope that we can all agree that Shanahan addressing this issue publicly is a good thing, though something I wish we would see more of. He almost had to since this did get to a hearing, but more of this would only benefit us the fans, and more importantly the players as they adjust to new rules and ways to play the game.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Watch the amazing Don Cherry at work. With some added sound effects.

For those who don't know, here a few things.

1: The program is Hockey Night in Canada. Pretty self explanatory.
2: If Don Cherry (on the right) gets on a roll, and you can't stop him. That mini-rant isn't anything out of the ordinary.
3: What is out of the ordinary is his attire. That is pretty tame compared to what he normally wears.
4: I know, I'm late in relaying this video. It has been around for a few months, but better late than never.
5: Don Cherry's good, no question. But I lost complete track of what he was saying in the video because of the piano-ing.

I literally laughed out loud.


Special shout out to Chuck Bell (former Atlanta Thrashers' organist) and the Blue Jackets organist, Bob Dawson.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Honour and Salmon

Roger Paquette did the best he could to honour (they're Canadian) his son the best way he knew how.

The tribute was paid to his late 30-year-old son Garrett by fulfilling his wish of trying to start a new tradition at Vancouver Canucks' games — throwing salmon on the ice.

Garrett was killed in an ATV accident and had always wanted this to be a version of the Detroit octopus toss, or the catfish of Nashville. The fish was tossed late in Saturday's game.

You can see a quick video of the fish on ice here.

You can read about the toss here. There were actually three fish brought into the arena that night, but two were abandoned in the bathroom in favor of just the one.

The Canucks released the following statement:

"As an organization we encourage passionate and responsible fan behaviour. We ask all fans to refrain from throwing any object on to the playing surface for the safety of players, officials, guests and staff."

I agree with the Canucks.

Really, I don't like the idea of tossing things on the ice outside of a hat trick. I neither agree with nor condone the octopus toss, but accept it as a part of the game. I would not be sad if it didn't happen anymore, but I'm not exactly writing letters to the NHL asking for its ban. It is a little hypocritical of me, I know.

I have my reasons for not liking the octo-toss (or similar incidents, like the sharks or whatever). Safety is a big one. Copycating with more dangerous objects is another. Sanitation is in there, as is the animal rights things. I'm not a fanatic about animal rights, but senseless death is just that: senseless. Animals should not be killed nor should their bodies be used for entertainment. Hunting? That's okay if the animal is used for food or the skins used for something productive. Not just mounting them, that's kinda pointless to me. I think the same thing about throwing a fish on the ice. It could have been used for food or SOMETHING beyond a momentary thrill for hockey fans.

Nothing directly against the late Garrett Paquette or anything specific against his father or his friends that carried out the toss, but I disagree with their actions.

The group actually carried about the toss in a fairly responsible manner. They tossed it away from players and carefully thought about it. But not everyone will be so thoughtful in the future. Plus, even if every toss was done safely, it slows down the game. Not a fan of that either.

Speaking of honours: big thanks to Puppatoons and Loosetoon for the awesome Hockey Cop shirt! Photo to come. And to honour you, I did not embed the video so you won't have to see the fish video if you don't want to.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

NHL Investigating Clock Error

This is the final few seconds of the game last night in Los Angeles against Columbus. Keep your eye on the clock.

Link to video

Notice how it stopped for about a second then restarted. The goal was scored at 0.4, but should not have counted.

The War Room looked at the play, but missed the clock stoppage until a few minutes after the game ended. This is the first time that NHL VP Colin Campbell can remember this has happened with this great of an impact on the outcome of a game. Sure, there are errors with false starts at faceoffs or a bit of a delay after a whistle, but this situation is unique because it was an obvious error, during play, that effected the outcome of the game significantly.

“We didn’t even look to go back and say `OK, did something happen (with the clock)?”’ Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said Thursday.

“When it crosses the line (and) you review it, you back the puck out and you see what the clock was. And the clock was 0.4 (seconds).

“And then after the game, minutes after the game, we see (it and say) `Holy cow.”’

Campbell confirmed that the goal shouldn’t have counted and said the league would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the error.

“You ask some tough questions,” he said. “You’ve got to ask every question.”

I would suggesting holding an overtime period at the conclusion of the March 8 game between the two squads in Columbus. It won't happen, but why not? Let the game play out and end however it ends. Then, have the one minute break and head into a normal overtime. Play it out. The players would be tired (like a normal OT), the ice is scratched up and everything.

I'm okay with allowing different line ups due to injury or trades between this game and the OT period in Columbus. I'm even okay with the game being in Columbus and not Los Angeles. Make it so the arena management (that is the sound guys and mascot and video board people or anyone else associated with the team) doesn't do anything that in anyway initiates cheering for Columbus to create as neutral an atmosphere as it can be since the Kings are disadvantaged playing an OT period on the road that should be at home. Or even better, have the OT after the crowd is out of the building. They can televise it, but no crowd to prevent cheering "the wrong home team". But it won't happen. Those points are gone forever from Columbus, but more importantly wrongfully given to the Kings.

In case you haven't been paying attention, the Kings are in a playoff race while the Blue Jackets are all but statistically eliminated. So I'm not advocating in favor of the Jackets. I'm just against the Kings earning points the NHL admits they shouldn't earn. The Kings currently sit with 60 points (7th in the West) under Chicago and St. Louis with 65 each and ahead of Minnesota with 57 for the final playoff spot at 8 over two teams with 54 points each: Dallas and Colorado. Points matter.

Even Gary Bettman said it was wrong.

Link to video

How wrong was it? If you visit the Situation Room Blog (link to the right), there's no mention of this EVEN THOUGH the War Room was called to varify the "good goal". Every other questionable goal from the season is there. Good goals, no goals, called goals that weren't and good goals that were missed. They're all there. But not this one.

Hockey has a history of reviewing and correcting mistakes. They said that Lucic wasn't on the ice illegally during a scrum and his game misconduct was struck from the records. That came a full day later. Goals are re-evaluated and given to different players all the time. The NHL needs to do the right thing here and play an overtime period (and shootout if necessary) between the Blue Jackets and Kings.

I don't really care about the circumstances that lead to the problem, that's not a good goal. I do actually care why the clock stopped, but not for the purposes of determining the validity of the goal. My point is that human error, conspiracy or technical problems do not negate the fact that the goal should not have counted.

I do believe the game timekeeper was the most at fault here. First of all, he is suppose to use a stopwatch in addition to the official clock (the scoreboard one) and the error should have been noticed if it was a technical issue. If he accidently stopped both clocks, realized his error then restarted them, he would have known he screwed up. Either way, he should have alerted the on ice officials and the video judge. These duties are explained under Rule 34.

The on-ice officials are pretty innocent in this. I don't think they would be looking at the clock in a moment like that, nor would anyone expect them too. They rely on other officials, even when replay is used, unlike say the NFL or NBA where the onfield or oncourt officials watch the monitors to make a call. If that happened in hockey, the referees in the NHL would be a bit more to blame. The video judge and the War Room are not clean in this situation and should be more aware particularly in the future, but they are not as much at fault as the timekeeper. The timekeeper should be fired for this one (unless he can prove he tried to communicate with other officials and couldn't or was ignored). Again, either human error or technical malfunction: it's his duty to correct either one.

I didn't blame the Kings at all for this one at first. Even if they somehow manipulated the clock, the timekeeper still should have noticed on his alternate device. Oh, and just so you know, the official clock is required to be syncronized with the tv broadcast. So don't think that the clock in the arena was running just fine and somehow the tv people screwed up their feed. But they wouldn't do anything to buy more time in front of the net, right?

Here's Los Angeles' GM Dean Lombardi curious response to the clock stoppage:

"Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs -- given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see -- the delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10 - 10ths of a second before the delay -- this insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes That is not an opinion -- that is science -- amazing devise quite frankly."

That just smells funny. I mean, it would be one thing to say "it's possible the clock malfunctioned and we just happened to benefit from it, it's up to the NHL where to go from there." That's what Kings' writer Rich Hammond essentially said in his "The Three Keys" wrapup of the game by saying "Well, nobody can accuse the Kings of not giving a 60-minute effort, or perhaps even a 60-minute, 0.5-second effort. Independent of whether the Blue Jackets got robbed -- they probably did -- give credit to Jack Johnson for having the poise to push the puck to Drew Doughty,..."

But that Lombardi quote sounds like a justification of why it happened, not the words of a recipient of a happy accident or a denial of wrongdoing. That just doesn't sit right with me. I would have said I would get the clock fixed so this doesn't happen again because, hey, next time it could go against the Kings.

But what if he's right and that's how that clock works? Who in the world designs a clock that recalabrates while it's running like that? I don't buy that excuse and I certainly wouldn't want to buy that kind of clock. I've never seen it before during an NHL game. I really REALLY want to watch that whole game again and only look at the clock to see if it does any unusual skipping at any point during the game. I would think that if this was a common, accepted quirk of game-clocks as a whole; it would be in the rulebook, commonly known, addressed by both Campbell and Bettman in their response to this incident, and I would have seen it at least once before. If it's not across the board and a unique quirk to the Staples Center, then the NHL should force the club to get a new clock.

Bottom line: I call b.s. on this clock working the way it was intended to. Human error, manipulation, or a technical malfunction are the source of this.

But, again, even if the Kings screwed with the clock, the timekeeper should have caught on, so I'm still giving him the vast majority of the blame for this hockey blunder.

It will be interesting to see if Columbus' GM Scott Howard will be fined for his statement:

"It is an amazing coincidence that with the Kings on a power play at STAPLES Center and with a mad scramble around our net in the dying seconds of the third period of a 2-2 hockey game that the clock stopped for at least one full second. I can only think of two ways in which this would have happened. Either there was a deliberate stopping of the clock or the clock malfunctioned."

Don't forget the Rangers' coach (Tortorella) was fined $30000 for saying bad things about the officiating during the Winter Classic. Will Howard face a similar penalty? I wouldn't think so considering the NHL has basically agreed with him when they didn't think Tortorella was correct in his assertion.

Bettman is right. Things happen and errors occur. But this is so bad, and so clearly wrong and it literally decided the outcome of a game and points in the standings, that it must be corrected. This isn't a judgement call (like an official on the ice calling a poor penalty). This isn't a situation that's disputable, lacking clear evidence (like if the puck crossed the goalline and we can't tell because the camera angles were bad). The clock stopped and everyone saw it.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. It's pretty unprecidented.