Thursday, 3 November 2011

A New Shootout Twist

I don't know how many times I've watched the replays of Daniel Briere's goal tonight, but I still don't get how they allowed this shootout goal to stand. Briere scored on Hedberg in the Philadelphia-New Jersey game in the shootout after he appeared to have come to a complete stop during his shootout attempt. As you know, you have to continue your forward motion, so slowing is ok, but stopping is not allowed. Personally, it looks like he stopped.

Here's the video of the play. You make the call before I throw some fuel on the fire. Here's Briere's goal:

Whaddya think? Looks like he stopped, right? Hedberg didn't have a chance after Briere threw on the brakes, yet the goal was allowed to stand. So why was this goal allowed?

It seems as though the NHL is more concerned in the shootout with goals being scored versus enforcing a rule that prevents NHL talent from showing off some moves. We've seen the spin-o-rama allowed, and there have definitely been some players who have pivoted around the puck while it has sat unmoving on the ice while the spin is completed. It appears we have a new wrinkle now as the "surprise" factor can allow a player to throw on the brakes.
Look, I'm not saying Daniel Briere is a liar by any means. You can clearly see that he wasn't expecting the pokecheck by the way he almost immediately stumbled when Johan Hedberg threw the stick out towards the puck. He even admitted he stumbled. But watch the video - the puck's forward motion stops. Therefore, this goal should have been disallowed.

And that's where the NHL War Room steps in to preserve the entertainment value. The referee never once motioned that the goal should be waved off, but there had to be some doubt creeping into his mind once Peter DeBoer started yelling at him. The official makes the call... and the goal is awarded to Philadelphia.

Let's not forget that the War Room has every angle from the broadcast and the arena on their video screens and monitors. At some point, the men in that room should have been able to see what everyone else could conceivably see: the puck's forward motion stopped.

There's no conspiracy theory here. It's not like Philadelphia gets freebie shootout goals awarded to them all the time. What I am saying is that players like Daniel Briere, Martin St. Louis, and Linus Omark are allowed to take liberties with the rule if they can show off a little "wow" factor. After all, the shootout is more for the fans than for anything else. Sure, there's a charity point on the line, but the fans want to see a little razzle-dazzle before heading home for the night, and the players who can pull off a slippery move like a spin-o-rama should be given the green light for creativity.

Will the NHL ever admit to this happening? Not on your life. The integrity of the game must be upheld, and the NHL will stick to its gun on that stance. But when it comes to getting people talking about the game, there's no better controversy than a creative goal that tiptoes along the rules of the game. The sports highlight shows love it, and the fans love to stand around the water cooler discussing it.

People like me? We get to theorize on why these things happen.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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