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Inconsistency Is The Real Problem With Goalie Interference But VGK Can’t Let That Problem Define Them

It’s a best of 5 now. The better team will still win, and if VGK plays like they can, it will be them. If they don’t, it won’t be because of this call.

It looked like the game was over. It looked like another massive overtime win. It looked like the series was 2-0 Vegas.

Then, we had to look again.

Keep an eye on the nob of Martin Jones’ stick. Jonathan Marchessault skates through, clips it, turns him, and “prevents him from doing his job.” I know Golden Knights fans don’t want to hear it, but that’s goalie interference.

Goals should be disallowed only 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. -NHL Rule Book

Marchessault, the attacking player, by contact, impaired the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely and defend his goal. That happened whether anyone likes it or not. Here’s the problem, even though the rule says it, the goal probably shouldn’t have been called back.

Early in the year it was anyone’s guess how a goalie interference call would go, but for the most part, if it was close it seemed they were calling the goals back. Then, the All Star break happened, and Gary Bettman said this.

The intention, particularly on goaltender interference, is did you miss something? I think the consensus of the meeting was really more we need to give a refresher – and we’re going to send a memo to the officials: Take a quick look, but don’t search it to death. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

It didn’t fix the problem. What happened instead was the officials started to let just about everything go as a goal and it was nearly a 180 from early season. So, the league then implemented what they believed was a solution. A group of five men, who would watch the games from the “Situation Room” in Toronto would make all goalie interference calls for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.

This was supposed to create some level of consistency. If the same 10 eyes look at them all, they are likely to come up with consistent decisions. Well, that hasn’t happened.

There are countless examples since late March, when the Situation Room was put in charge, and there still seems to be no clear-cut definition as to what is and what is not goalie interference. In fact, earlier in the same game, Marc-Andre Fleury had a player interfere with him, but it was not called back.

By the letter of the law, an attacking player interferes with Fleury, preventing him from doing his job, and a goal is scored. Again though, it’s close, and if the correct way to look at it is “don’t search it to death” as Bettman’s memo stated, then the goal should stand.

But, so then should Marchessault’s.

The problem is that everyone has a different view of how literally the rule should be taken. Everyone puts different emphasis on different portions of the rule. Was he in the crease? Was he pushed in? Could he have made the save anyway? Was the contact incidental? And there are probably 10-15 more little nuances that can be taken into account, but it’s in the eye of five beholders to decide if the goal should be taken off the board, and they have yet to strike a balance that has led to consistency in the calls.


In the end, the Golden Knights had the game won, and then they didn’t, and no one is really 100% sure why.

Goalie interference is a complete mess. It was only a matter of time it ruined a game in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s a shame it was a Golden Knights game, and it stinks to the highest heavens that this series is not 2-0 heading to San Jose. But, it is what it is and the only reason it happened to the Golden Knights was because they played a sloppy first half of a hockey game and allowed a 2-0 lead in the game to slip away before the first 40 minutes were up. This call determined this game, but it didn’t have to.

The Golden Knights remain the superior team in the series, and it was on display once again. In Game 1 the Golden Knights were good, the Sharks were not. The final score was 7-0. In Game 2 the Sharks were good, the Golden Knights were not. The final score was 4-3 in double OT with a controversial call that could have ended the game at 4-3 the other way.

In the game they were bad, they still did enough to win the game, but had it taken away. That’s over now. Now, it’s up to the Golden Knights to make sure that call is not the difference, because if it is, they let the series get away by underperforming, not by being screwed by a poorly enforced rule.




Golden Knights And Sharks On About Game 2 And Moving On To Game 3


  1. The difference is that when Fleury was “interfered with,” it was 100% because a Sharks player (without the puck, so technically ineligible to be checked) was knocked down and pushed into Fleury.

    Both these cases were about as easy and clear cut as you could hope for.

    • Dunbar

      It was still called as goalie interference, though. Because it was. They just didn’t call back the goal. That’s the point they were making – the goal should have never been called back.

  2. Jeff BarryJeff

    Do you remember that islanders game where Subbans stick was pulled away from him? Everyone responded with stating that his stick left the crease. They did not call the goal off. It is indisputable that Jones stick was NOT in the 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”

    So the situation room must have questioned whether Marchessault did anything to avoid it. Don’t see how he could have avoided it but the islanders one definitely could have been avoided.

    Bottom line is: you are right about the issue depending on which variable within the rule is emphasized. If we crumble from here on out that’s our fault. But we’ve seen way worse goalie interference calls against our goalies in which they still call it a good goal. The inconsistency is driving me mad.

  3. Brian

    Horrible call. Just so bad on so many levels. The inconsistency is the topper. Knights WILL respond in SJ with MUCH better play. I’d expect to see Sbisa back in action, too.

  4. Bill

    The problem is the sharks player clearly has both hands on his back and is pushing. That is why the sharks goal counted. On the sharks goal you can see the player get up and give a quick shove with the stick towards fleury which is why it shouldn’t have counted. If a player is pushed into a goalie it shouldn’t be interference but problem is one it was and one it wasn’t. And on the one it wasn’t the player makes an effort to make more contact then necessary. At the end of the day though if knights don’t commit so many penalties and fleury just covered that puck we are up 2-0. Clean it up and can still win.

  5. Billy

    This is what happens when you have stupid people who never watched hockey before given unlimited twitter and websites. Go cry in a different corner. There were 11 penalties called against the knights, and it could have been 30. Fluery cant save this team every “knight”. In the words of Dennis Green, they are wjo we thought they were. A scam team that needs help to win by 1 on most nights. Keep eating roundup and pesiticide infested garbage and keep it up so i can fade these clowns.

    • Brian

      Thanks for showing so much class, Billy. You rock. What a star…….

    • Jeff

      Yea you’re right Fleury saved the Sharks in game 1.

      Thi s is what happens when you let ignorant assholes post their idiotic drivel wherever they want like a dog pissing on any fire hydrant they see. Go away.

    • Scott

      7-0. Crazy how this scam team blew you up two “knights” before.

    • Dunbar

      Don’t be such a bitch, Billy. Just because it hurts your feelings that VGK are still a winning team after losing last night doesn’t mean you have to be so bitter… get over it, we’ve had a good season. Just because we’re a new team doesn’t mean our fans aren’t hockey fans. Perhaps you e never been to Las Vegas before? But our city is diverse as fuck, we have people from all over the world that live here, we even have hockey fans. Nice ones. Not assholes like you.

  6. John Savage

    The reason that earlier goalie interference challenge went against Vegas was because the Vegas defenseman pushed Timo Maier into Fluery………………………not at all like the goalie interference challenge in double overtime. Go Sharks!

    • Brian

      You’re right—the Sharks are going to “go”………..onto the golf course for the summer by the end of the week. GOKNIGHTSGO!!


    • Bill

      The problem with that is yes he was pushed into fleury but you can see the player as he gets up hits fleury with his stick, this isn’t cause of the push, and hence why it should have been called.


    Multiple ex refs have Twitted if your out of the crease it’s far game.If you also look at video Jones own player clipped his skate.Im starting to believe league feels pressure about Vegas winning and plays like this where they can control a goal they did.Also honestly I’ve heard of 11 penalties on road teams but when have you heard it on home teams?I don’t buy also Sharks deserved to win.Good teams play bad games and win.What comes around goes around that’s sports.

    • Jeff

      I agree with you to a certain extent. You can’t tell me that pressure of fans outraged at the success of an expansion team was not in the back of the Toronto officials minds making the call. It was over turned which means it’s supposed to be clear cut no questions asked In order to over turn the call on the ice. There are questions therefore it should have counted.

      Either way Vegas put themselves I that position with their bad play and didn’t deserve to win and that’s a fact. It would’ve been nice to steal the game but now we get to go to San Jose and show them live hi w good we really are….

  8. Rob

    At the end of the day, we played bad… and won… then didn’t. Moral: Don’t play bad and the officials won’t be the deciding factor at the end.

    I believe VGK > SJS and over the next week they will get the chance to prove it.

    • Brian

      Agreed, 100%. Play better, take less stupid penalties, and the goalie interference call becomes a non issue.


  9. Travis Bickle

    Tough to play against 6 skaters from San Jose, 4 in stripes and suits in Toronto. Check out the Fleury non interference call and see the SJ player take MAF stick out of his hands (no interference, really?). Playback the game and see Haula on the break get high sticked (no penalty), Burns throwing punches in a scrum along the boards (no penalty), and on the Marchy no goal, Reilly Smith getting the butt end of a stick as he heads to net (no penalty). This is not sour grapes. This is just seeing what happened.

  10. John H

    The only way to be consistent is to go back to the days when you couldn’t have a skate in the blue paint..

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