Even after a 2-1 overtime victory in Chicago, capped by a game-winning dagger from defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t hide his frustration with an officiating crew that put them in that spot in the first place.
“We were just finally able to get one in overtime there to win 3-1,” Cassidy said in the first question thrown his way after the win. “I didn’t like the call at all. I’ve watched it 10 times and I still don’t see where there’s interference.”
And while it’s obvious that no coach likes to see goals wiped off the board, it’s hard to think Cassidy is in the wrong here.
As the B’s third line stormed towards the Blackhawks’ Marc-Andre Fleury, Craig Smith drives towards the net front in an effort to provide a screen against Fleury. (That was probably the Bruins’ best bet in a night where Fleury went with a wire-to-wire stand-on-his-head performance.) On that drive, however, Blackhawks defenseman Riley Stillman clearly blows a tire and initiates contact with Fleury, which takes the Chicago netminder out of the equation.
Charlie Coyle’s go ahead goal called goaltender interference. Bruins challenge. Still ruled no goal. I have no idea anymore pic.twitter.com/xFSyau0mUv— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) March 16, 2022
Ruled no goal on the ice, Cassidy and the Bruins issued what they felt was a true can’t lose challenge.
The NHL, however, saw things differently.
“Video review confirmed the actions of Boston’s Craig Smith impaired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s ability to play his position prior to Charlie Coyle’s goal,” the NHL’s ‘situation room’ said in an email. “The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.1, which states in part, ‘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.'”
As always, we can confirm that those are indeed words.
“I see their guy going into their goalie,” Cassidy said. “I think [Smith] might have touched his blocker — and that’s a might — and that was before the shot and didn’t affect [Fleury]’s ability to play the position, in my opinion.
“I thought it was a good goal all day long.”
That’s why he didn’t think twice about issuing that challenge so late in a tied game.
“Typically, I wouldn’t challenge it with five minutes to go, but I just thought it was so obvious that it was a goal that they just mistook maybe Smith for their guy who slid into [Fleury]. Their own player, No. 61. We didn’t affect No. 61’s path to the goalie. He kind of turned and pivoted and lost his footing,” Cassidy noted. “So, for me, I just thought that’s that one they would [overturn]. The National Hockey League’s always looking for more offense, and I thought certainly that was a good goal.”
The problem, of course, remains the fact that nobody seems to know what the hell actually constitutes goaltender interference in 2022. I mean, they didn’t know in 2021, 2020, or even 2018 for that matter, either, so at least they’re consistent? But coaches and players alike are left to constantly wonder how the standard will shift on a game-to-game basis.
“I imagine at some point, [I’ll] make a phone call to find out what exactly they saw, but I don’t think it’ll matter, to be honest with you,” Cassidy admitted. “I discussed it quickly with the ref after, just what he thought or how the process was in a cordial manner with one of the officials. He kind of talked me through a little bit of their process. I don’t want to get into it all.
“But at the end of the day, it didn’t hurt us.”
Now just imagine the frustration if they didn’t grab two points?
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 2-1 win over the Blackhawks…