TAMPA, Florida – If it was an illegal line change, it wasn’t the first a team got away with in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In fact, many will remember that the Tampa Bay Lightning themselves got away with it. ‘Last year.
But an excited Jon Cooper, Lightning coach, made Wednesday night’s possibly missed call a focal point after it came in the most consequential moments – in extra time to help the Colorado Avalanche win 3-2 and take a 3-fold lead. -1 in the Stanley Cup final series – saying his team “should still play” rather than digesting a damaging defeat that severely affects his hopes of beating three times.
Nazem Kadri dramatically crowned his accelerated return from thumb surgery on the contested game, floating a beauty past Andrei Vasilevskiy 12 minutes and 2 seconds into the OT, at the end of an 11-second shift for which Cooper insinuated that the ‘Avalanche should have been booed, with too many men on the ice.
The five allowed skaters were on the ice when Kadri scored, but replays show that the AVS made use of, at a minimum, a generous line change and perhaps an illegal line change to the fullest.
Nazem Kadri scores the biggest goal of his career pic.twitter.com/58eKHjWEZs
– Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) June 23, 2022
Kadri was on the ice for four seconds and had possession of the puck along the blue line when the man he had changed for, an inactive Nathan MacKinnon, finally made it to the bench. In the replay it appears that Kadri was thinking of changing for Valeri Nichushkin, who ended up staying on the ice and committed to the game. MacKinnon was still on the ice on the bench along the blue line when Kadri skated in the offensive zone with the puck.
Kadri’s goal led the Avalanche to win their third Stanley Cup title and their first since 2001, with Game 5 in Denver on Friday night.
“You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. My heart breaks for the players because we should probably still play.”
Jon Cooper only answered one question after the game and clearly wasn’t happy with Avalanche’s OT’s winning goal. pic.twitter.com/g6DAwp475i
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 23, 2022
“I love this championship,” Cooper said in a monologue about the flow of consciousness he ultimately interrupted before leaving the podium. “It is the biggest championship in the world. The people who run it are amazing. Everything about it. It’s like a dream come true for me, especially being a Canadian kid, growing up and all that happened. … You know, I’ve taken part in some heartbreaking setbacks and losses for the teams that have eliminated us and have been with a group that fight, fight and fight. And they fought for the third consecutive Stanley Cup final. And in a chap it was… when it’s so damn hard and the rules are being turned against you because the league wants parity.
“And I like this from the championship. And that’s what makes it more difficult. And look at this team, what it’s been through and the battles that have gone on. And we are all here together: players, coaches, everyone. But this one is going to sting a lot more than others, just because he was taking … he was potentially … I don’t know. It is difficult for me. It will be difficult for me to speak. I’ll have to talk. … You will see what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart breaks for the players. Because we should probably still play. I will be available (Thursday). “
This is the most damaging video I’ve ever seen.
When Nazem Kadri (the top scorer of the win) arrives on the ice, MacKinnon takes more than 5 seconds to get back on the bench and is clearly much further than 5 feet away. pic.twitter.com/9ede4C6ZCU
– Kailey Mizelle (@KaileyMizelle) June 23, 2022
The NHL was aware of the controversy after the game and spoke to the four referees on the ice. Anyone of the four can make the call. In a statement provided to Atleticothe league said that “a penalty for too many men on ice is a judgment”.
“After the game, hockey operations met with the four officials as is their normal protocol,” the league said. “In discussing the goal of victory, each of the four referees advised not to see a situation of too many men on the ice on the game. This call is not subject to video review by either Hockey Ops or ice officials. “
According to NHL rules, players can be changed at any time during the game, as long as they are within one and a half meters of the bench and are not in play when the change is made. “At the discretion of the on-ice referees, should a substitute skater go down the ice before his teammate is within the five-foot limit of the players’ bench (and thus clearly causing his team to have too many players) , then a bench may be imposed a minor penalty. When a skater retires from the ice surface and is within five feet of his players’ bench, and his replacement is on the ice, the retiring skater will be considered off the ice. If in the course of a substitution, the entering side or retiring player plays the puck or who controls or makes physical contact with an opposing player while both players involved in the substitution are on the ice, then the infraction of They will be called “too many men on ice”.
Two former NHL referees contacted by Atletico who viewed the video said they thought this show wasn’t too many men. A former linesman said that while he’s close, loose line changes happen all the time and very few referees would miss a game like this dead during overtime. He also noted that Lightning had seven players on the ice, including two bench players, such as MacKinnon, with players entering for them also engaged in the game.
To add to the confusion after the game, the opening game sheet featured six Avalanche skaters on the ice for the winning goal, with sixth defender Erik Johnson. The replays show, however, that it was actually an honest and haphazard mistake as Johnson was never on the ice before or during the winning goal.
Ironically, last postseason, Lightning’s Ondrej Palat scored a goal in Game 2 of the Tampa Bay playoff series against the New York Islanders with seven players in play. The officials missed him and the goal was counted.
The lightning had too many men in the door of the green light. Barry Trotz after watching the replay: “Seven fucking guys. There are seven guys on the ice. On the fucking door. It’s right there.” pic.twitter.com/CsLyoNq9c6
– Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 16, 2021
While Wednesday’s Game 4 ending was controversial, the reality is that Avalanche recovered from two one-goal handicaps, goals from MacKinnon and Andrew Cogliano, and were by far the best side in extra time. They beat Tampa Bay 10-3 in extra time, and that doesn’t include a post hit by Artturi Lehkonen and a crossbar from Bowen Byram.
“I’m not entirely sure what he’s thinking, because it shouldn’t have counted,” Kadri said when told of Cooper’s comments. “This confuses me a little. The puck hit the back of the net, end of story. I’m not sure why he would have said that. “
The reality is that there have been far more egregious situations of too many men that the teams have managed to get away with. And it’s not like Kadri scored on the break. He skated in the lightning zone one on three.
Regardless, Lightning had better forget all of this quickly and put the dubious nature of the Game 4 ending behind him, because Cooper was acting like the series ended on Wednesday.
If they fail, the series will end on Friday and the AVS will lift the Lord Stanley’s Cup.
(Photo: Geoff Burke / USA Today)