By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Deep down in their heart of hearts, hockey people don’t really know the rules when it comes to goaltender interference. Nobody does — and that might even include the people who are tasked with making and ruling upon those calls.
And sure enough, the Boston Bruins — who have been somewhat of a magnet for unique calls this postseason — were involved in a case of goaltender interference that had many hockey fans scratching their heads on Tuesday night in Raleigh.
In the third period of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, with Boston leading 2-1 over Carolina, Torey Krug teed up a one-time blast from the right point. Jake DeBrusk tried to establish net-front positioning by trying to slip between goaltender Curtis McElhinney and defenseman Jaccob Slavin.
DeBrusk collided with McElhinney’s skate outside of the crease. At the same time, Slavin bumped DeBrusk up high, leading to a larger collision between DeBrusk and McElhinney.
The shot ricocheted off DeBrusk and into the goal, but the referee standing nearest to the net immediately waved it off for goaltender interference.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy challenged the call, leading to a review from the situation room in Toronto. But after a brief review, the call on the ice was upheld.
It may well have been a good call, based on the letter of the law. But based on recent examples — namely, Auston Matthews’ goal against Boston in Game 5 of the first round — it’s hard to make a case either way definitively.
The Bruins also lost a goal in the second round against Columbus, after Joakim Nordstrom clearly impeded Sergei Bobrovsky on a waived-off Sean Kuraly score.
But whether it’s goaltender interference, pucks off protective netting, replay review relying on logic instead of visual evidence for the first time, or some old-fashioned puzzling officiating, the Bruins have a knack for minimizing the impact of these moments. By the end of Game 3, this most recent negated goal was merely a footnote in a larger story about the Bruins taking a 3-0 series lead over the Hurricanes.
It wasn’t the only moment, either, as David Backes jammed in a puck midway through the first period, essentially stuffing McElhinney into the Carolina net while the goaltender held the puck in his glove. It was not ruled a goal on the ice, and the referee informed the situation room that he had blown the play dead, thus making the play not subject to review.
That goal would have been huge, as the Bruins were struggling to stay afloat amid a first-period siege by the home team. Alas, it was not meant to be.
But, once again, the 2019 Bruins made sure it didn’t matter. That’s been their calling card for a month, and it’s a major part of why they currently sit just one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.