Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:18 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 12:28 am
By: Adam Gretz
The protection of goalies has been a hot topic in the NHL this season and it all started when Boston's Milan Lucic ran over Ryan Miller in a game back in November. During Tuesday's New York Rangers-Dallas Stars game, which the Stars won by a 1-0 margin thanks to a late third period goal from Trevor Daley and the first career shutout for rookie goalie Richard Bachman, Bachman left his crease in an effort to knock a loose puck away from Rangers forward Carl Hagelin.
There was a collision that resulted in Bachman losing his mask and being knocked to the ice, while Hagelin was assessed a two-minute minor for charging. It again needs to be pointed out that goalies, whether they're in the crease or out of the crease, are not fair game to be hit, and if the opposing team's skater doesn't make an effort to avoid the contact, the proper penalty is to be assessed.
That's not necessarily what happened with this incident, as evey replay angle shows that not only did Hagelin make an effort to avoid making contact with the Stars goalie, he's not even the player that made the actual contact with him -- it was Bachman's own teammate, defenseman Alex Goligoski, that hit him.
No penalty should have been called, and Rangers coach John Tortorella had a bit of an eruption on the bench, and rightfully so.
It's a good bet that shouting match is going to make an appearance on an episode of HBO's 24/7.
After the game, Tortorella said "The goalie came out 20 feet. Sometimes they feel they have to call something. It should've been a non-call."
He's absolutely right.
(H/T PHT for video)
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 2:21 pm
The NHL has handed down the punishment on Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators for his crash into Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller from over the weekend. The result is a two-game suspension for the Pesky Preds forward.
As has become customary, here is video from Brendan Shanahan explaining the decision, but this one coming on location from Pebble Beach instead of New York because of the Board of Governors meetings.
In detailing the suspension, Shanahan notes a few factors that played into the rationale. First is the fact that while there is pressure from defenseman Jordan Leopold, it's not enough to significantly steer Tootoo toward the crease. This is something to keep in mind when you look at the David Booth hit on Miikka Kiprusoff again and why it's unlikely the Booth hit was given much of a look from the league.
Secondly is perhaps the money quote from Shanahan in this conversation: "Goalies should feel safe in their crease." For those wondering why Tootoo's hit warranted two games while Milan Lucic, who ran into Miller a month ago, resulting in a concussion and this high state of awareness, that's a key difference even if the rulebook clearly states that goalies aren't free to be hit no matter if they are in the crease or not.
Also coming into play was the fact that before the collision, Tootoo looks up and spots Miller before running into him. I don't see how that should have much of an impact, by the time he actually looks at Miller, there is nowhere left for Tootoo to go.
If anything, and Shanahan concedes as much, it looks like Tootoo actually tries to leap over Miller and avoid the hit. Bobby Orr he is not. Still, it didn't save Tootoo completely. The fact that he was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit was also a factor for Shanahan, perhaps reducing the suspension since he was punished in-game as well.
The environment around this topic is toxic right now, particularly around Ryan Miller and the Sabres. As some have joked, Tootoo was suspended two games for Lucic's hit on Miller. But if there was no punishment for Tootoo here, there would have been a near riot among the Sabres faithful.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff saw this as an opportunity for the league.
"I hope to see a strong message," Ruff said following practice on Monday. "Really, it’s just time. I just hope they do the right thing with it.
"I understand with a phone hearing the max you’re going to get is [a five-game suspension]. In my eyes, is that a big message? It’s OK. I look at the NFL and I look at the Detroit Lion [Ndamukong Suh] that got two games for a 6-inch kick. He got kicked out of the game, and then that amounted to one-eighth of our season. That’s a 10-game suspension. I think they do it right. The message there is we’re not putting up with this stuff. I think we need a strong message. Is five strong enough? I don’t know."
How about two, coach?
Even with Tootoo getting a boot, I don't think Ruff will be overly pleased. It was him, you might remember, that said the lack of suspension on Lucic meant it was open season to run goaltenders. That's why he was hoping for a clear message. Well that and his starting goaltender was run over twice in two games.
I know the folks in Buffalo won't agree, but I think it's a pretty good scenario of the punishment fitting the crime here, particularly with no injury resulting on the play. But it will cause every hit to be scrutinized, just like a lot of other hits around the league.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:08 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2011 11:05 am
By: Adam Gretz
The last time Ryan Miller was in the lineup for the Buffalo Sabres he ventured out of his crease to play a loose puck and ended up on the train tracks that were carrying the Milan Lucic Express. The result, as you may already know by now, was a huge collision that fired up the debate about how much protection goalies get, while Miller missed nearly a month of action.
He returned to the lineup on Saturday night in Nashville in a game the Sabres won 3-2, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced. Not a bad night, other than the fact he was on the receiving end of yet another big-time hit, this time as he was standing in his crease attempting to make a save.
With less than five miutes to play in yhe second period Miller was crushed by Predators forward Jordin Tootoo on a play that resulted in Tootoo receiving a five-minute major for charging, as well as a game misconduct.
Here's the video, via On The Forecheck:
According to Predators beat writer Joshua Cooper, Tootoo said after the game that he anticipates having a disciplinary hearing with the league as a result of the hit. Assuming that happens, it will be interesting to see the result.
Remember, when Lucic hit Miller outside of the crease back in November (goalies out of the crease are not "fair game" according to NHL rules) he recieved a two-minute minor penalty during the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline, which drew plenty of criticism, especially from Miller and the Sabres.
The fear was that the lack of discipline would make it "open season" on goalies, and in the Sabres very next game Miller's backup, Jhonas Enroth, was inteferred with.
Previously At Eye On Hockey
Ryan Miller hit by Milan Lucic
No suspension for Lucic
Posted on: November 23, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2011 12:44 am
Milan Lucic expected it. Just about everybody who has seen a hockey game before was expecting it. It didn't take long to make it fait accompli.
What's it? In case you have been under a rock, that would be some retaliation on the Bruins' Lucic for the hit that left Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on the shelf with a concussion. The Sabres, Paul Gaustad in particular, admitted to their embarrassment at the response, or lack thereof, in the game earlier in November. Consider Wednesday's rematch a second chance for the Sabres. And they seized the opportunity.
Not even two minutes into the game, Lucic made his first appearance in the game, going on the ice before a faceoff. Naturally, Gaustad was sent out immediately afterward and the two had some words before the faceoff. Then this happened.
That might be why the Sabres didn't have much of a response in the first place. Lucic gave to Gaustad pretty good. But the deed was done. It's not really about if you take the other guy down, it's that you try to take him down.
"It was an unfortunate incident in Boston," Gaustad said. "I give credit to Milan for fighting. It's something where guys don't have to. He did."
So that was it, right? The Sabres got their retribution? You know better than that.
That one, too, turned out just about how you'd imagine: squarely in the Bruins' favor.
Regehr deserves some major credit for showing the fortitude -- or some might say stupidity -- to challenge Chara to a fight. You don't see Big Z fight often, and that's just because nobody really wants to go a round with the monster. Well Regehr did, and it's just good that Chara let up at the end of the fight.
Sometimes games live up to the expectations. Considering this was the expectation, mission complete.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 2:37 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The last time the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins met we watched as Milan Lucic plowed through Ryan Miller, sparking a debate as to whether or not goalies should be "fair game" when they venture out of their crease to play the puck (according to the current NHL rules, they're not). The play even resulted in the topic of goalie protection being a last-minute addition to the agenda of the general managers meetings that were taking place later that week.
When the NHL decided not to suspend Lucic there was a concern that it meant it would now be "open season" on goalies, a fire that the NHL quickly tried to extinguish. It also left us wondering how the Sabres would respond when the two teams faced off again (as they will on Wednesday night), and whether or not they would attempt to dish out their own brand of vigilante justice. In the initial meeting, immediately after Miller was hit, the Sabres did not respond the way one would expect a team to respond after watching their starting goaltender, and arguably their best player, get run over by a member of the opposing team.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff has said repeatedly that the team wasn't happy with their response and that it won't happen again.
As expected, the NHL has warned both teams about any shenanigans that may take place when the two teams meet on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean something won't go down after the puck drops.
Miller suffered a concussion as a result of the play and has not been back in the lineup since, and had some strong words for Lucic in his post-game interviews saying, "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a gutless piece of [feces] I think Lucic is."
Lucic is already expecting somebody from Buffalo to take a run at him, and that's probably a safe bet. In recent years the Sabres haven't been a huge fighting team, finishing 23rd, 27th and 25th over the past three years in fighting majors. Through the early part of this season they're eighth, one spot behind Boston, with 10 fighting majors. The leader in the clubhouse at this point is Cody McCormick with four. Patrick Kaleta and Paul Gaustad each have two, while Robyn Regehr and Mike Weber have each dropped the gloves once.
It's also worth asking if the Sabres might try to return the favor and make their presence felt around the Boston net.
As I mentioned above, there was a concern in the immediate aftermath of the NHL's decision to not punish Lucic that it is now open season on goaltenders, and we've already seen a taste of that in the week-and-a-half since Miller was sidelined. In Buffalo's very next game Jhonas Enroth was hit by Montreal's Erik Cole skating through the crease.
On Tuesday night we watched as Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson left his crease to play a puck behind the net, and was then hit from behind by Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone, resulting in no penalty (click here to watch). When Gustavsson pleaded his case to the official that watched the play unfold right in front of him, the referee simply pointed at the spot on the ice where the Leafs goalie was hit.
Whatever happens, this is probably the most anticipated game on Wednesday's schedule.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 22, 2011 4:55 pm
Also on his toes will be Milan Lucic, the Bruins forward who hit -- or "collided" with, depending on your vantage point -- Sabres goalie Ryan Miller outside of the crease earlier this month, leaving Miller out with a concussion. The Bruins forward, who wasn't attacked during the Bruins' 6-2 win that night, is expecting to be on Wednesday.
Here is what Lucic told Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe on Tuesday when asked if expects for somebody to take a shot at him:
"Yes ... I'm not going to lie ... yes."
Considering the Sabres did nothing and one of them, Paul Gaustad, was upset at both the team's and his own lack of response, it's not like Lucic is going out on a limb here. There is a lot of pressure from the fans in Buffalo, and likely within the team, to make up for their lack of a response.
Just a note to any would-be agitators, Lucic can fight and has been able to for many years.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 3:55 pm
What better time than after the Hall of Fame ceremony for the GMs to gather and discuss the issues of the day? After all, most of them are already in town for the festivities anyway.
The item on the morning agenda of the meetings? It truly was the top issue of the day: goaltender safety. Spurred by the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, the rules regarding goaltenders outside the crease have been a hot topic. While the rulebook clearly states a goalie is not fair game anywhere on the ice, it has been a muddy conversation.
“Just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page, that when they’re out on the open ice, that they’re going to be protected,” Armstrong said. “We do want continued play in front of the net, but we want to make sure that when they’re outside the [blue] ice, that they’re protected.”
The best way that people are describing the protection of goaltenders is to draw the parallel to football and the quarterback. In football, the QB has become like an endangered species, seemingly any affront to his safety has been squashed. Drives a QB into the ground after a pass? Personal foul. Same goes for when a scrambling QB slides to the ground.
“In my opinion, I think we have to [protect goalies like QBs],” Penguins GM Ray Shero said. “I’m not talking about plays around the crease, because there will be incidental contact ... We’re talking about a regular season game, we’re talking about the incident with Lucic and Ryan Miller. You get into a playoff series and if these guys are going to be coming out to play pucks, and you can run them over and get a two-minute penalty, then I think you’re going to open up a pretty dangerous set of circumstances.
“Several of the general managers just brought up the fact there’s only 60 goaltenders in the league, and we have to be pretty careful in terms of, if they’re going to play puck outside the crease, what should be fair,” Shero said. “We’ll continue to look at it, and probably talk about it much more at the March meeting, as well.”
Is it a bit reactionary? Of course. The Lucic/Miller incident is fresh and was pretty uncommon. But the reactions after the hit proved the need for some clarification on the matter, even if it was as simple as getting rule 69.4 spread around for everybody to see.
This is where Brendan Shanahan's decision not to suspend Lucic, for the hit comes into play a bit. Many, myself included, believed that if nothing else a token suspension was called for against Lucic, something to make it clear that goalies can't be run over. But Shanahan believed Lucic did not intend to hit Miller and that it was more of an unfortunate collision. He reiterated the point to the GMs that goalies will be protected and offenders could still be suspended. From Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com:
"Shanahan told GMs that players should NOT read into Lucic ruling that goalies are fair game. Quite the opposite, Shanahan warned GMs."
The GMs don't want to see more incidents like it and want to nip it in the bud now before frontier justice like that alluded by Sabres coach Lindy Ruff knocks another goaltender out for a period of time. I believe for most GMs it's a matter of self-preservation if anything else (in this case self being their team's interests).
“That’s going to be the message to our team -- the goalies are not fair game,” Shero said. “If the guy’s going to play it outside the crease, you have to be pretty careful.”
Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I believe the root of that statement from Shero comes out of the fear of losing Marc-Andre Fleury for some time.
As for rest of the meetings, also on the schedule was the 1-3-1 trap that caused such a stir last week after the bizarre scene between the Flyers and Lightning which led to a stalemate. To that, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman gave a reasonable response, saying they don't want to overreact to something that has only happened once. Perhaps Flyers GM Paul Holmgren put it best: "I'd like to see us attack the situation a little bit differently than we did last game."
The other big item on the docket was realignment, something Flyers chairman Ed Snider brought up again in Toronto. But right now that's all just chatter among the GMs. The decision on realignment will made at the Board of Governors meeting in December.
All of these conversations and more will get hashed out again in March the next time the GMs gather.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 15, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 10:22 am
Both before and after it was announced that Milan Lucic wouldn't be suspended for his hit on Ryan Miller on Saturday night, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff prophesized that no suspension would signal it's open season on goalies. Brendan Shanahan called the comment irresponsible.
So naturally, the Sabres had themselves another run-in, so to speak, in their first game with Miller out due to a concussion.
Normally, this would be nothing to write about. But the game after they lost their starting goaltender and then were hammered for failing to respond? Funny how the fates tempt sometimes. The result of this particular play was nothing more than a two-minute minor for Cole for goaltender interference (of course, Lucic was just given a two-minute minor as well).
After the game Paul Gaustad, who admitted that he and his team should have done more to the Bruins after the Miller incident in Boston, said that moment is something they are now trying to use as a galvanizing moment, saying they are full behind Miller and learned from their mistake.
In the end, this was a pretty minor happenstance, but anytime a Sabres goalie is even sneezed on it right now, it's under a microscope.