On Saturday evening, I thought of a goal Phoenix's Martin Hanzal scored against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center a few seasons ago that was stood after review despite the blatancy of the Czech's high stick on the play. Then, I thought about when the Kings were visiting the Senators in Ottawa early in 2010-11 season. In the dying seconds of said game with the Kings down by a goal, Ryan Smyth tied the game - or so it seemed. Despite deflecting the puck in with his stick that was below the crossbar, the goal was disallowed. So, what brought me to think of these two situations some three-plus years later? It's simple. Because yesterday the Kings had another seemingly-obvious blown call go against them.
During Saturday's game at Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings, the Los Angeles Kings received another dose of, for lack of a better term, "What the f**k!" (I'm jet-lagged - give me a break).
After being tied for the majority of the third period, Jeff Carter scored with just over two minutes to go to give Los Angeles the lead. But with a power play late, the Wings were far from done. Pressuring the Kings in the final 30 seconds, Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall took a point shot that bounced up and down off Jonathan Quick's and into the net. The referee on the play immediately signaled that it was a goal - but how?
On the replay, the puck is clearly shown hitting the mesh up and behind the glass which doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the play would be dead, even if the puck were to bounce back into play. Plus, if there was any doubt that the puck did touch the mesh, all anyone needs to see is the mesh moving in reaction to being contacted, akin to a large man's stomach having the same effect when being hit with a cannonball. I admit that my high school physics class didn't teach me much - but that much it did.
Long story short: the Wings tied and ultimately won in the shootout, taking two points they really should not have had.
Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy called the tying goal both "illegal" and "the NHL's latest embarrassment'. Even Niklas Kronwall himself, to his credit, flat-out admitted that his goal should not have counted. If there was any consolation for me personally, it's that I was on a flight during the game and, as a result, missed all the drama. But when I landed, I was told of what happened and then watched what transpired. Like all Kings fans watching it live, I could not believe what I saw. I couldn't even comprehend what had happened. Did NHL-certified officials really allow this goal to stand? Worse, did they actually decide not to formally review the "goal" but instead briefly discuss it? Forget not knowing where to end; I don't even know where to begin.
It certainly wasn't the most exciting game played but the Kings did come out with a very productive night on the man-advantage, scoring twice on four opportunities. Jonathan Quick even had a solid outing making 33 saves. But no one in Los Angeles is chalking this up as some kind of moral victory. While it is good to point out the positives in any loss, Saturday night just wasn't one of those nights.
I'm not suggesting that the Kings get the worst of it in terms of calls going against them. While they do receive their share of injustices, so does every team. So, this isn't a case of woe are the Kings. Having said that, however, knowing that the NHL let this goal stand should leave the league and their officials not only embarrassed but downright ashamed of themselves.
While the aforementioned Ryan Smyth goal in 2010 was marginal in real time, the replay does show his stick below the crossbar. Hence, that goal should have counted. The Martin Hanzal goal didn't need a replay to show that the goal should have been null. The same goes for Kronwall's tying goal on Saturday. How a group of experienced professionals can botch a play like this up any worse is beyond me - and I hope this is the worst we'll see from the referees in any sports, much less hockey.
While they did leave Detroit with a point, the Los Angeles Kings and their fans know that it should have been two. An injustice like this needs to be thoroughly investigated by the NHL and not swept under the rug like the aforementioned goals of Martin Hanzal and Ryan Smyth.
Whatever happened, whether they were any reasons, hard feelings or simply a colossal lack of judgment, the Los Angeles Kings had a point stolen from them. As for possible reasons, what could it have been? The notion that a referee standing right at the net could miss the mesh being hit by the puck doesn't sound the least bit logical. He may not have seen the puck necessarily but he should have seen that mesh have the same effect as the stomach meeting the cannonball. It may not be the same effect but the effect would have been enough for fans on the opposite of the arena to see the mild ruffling of the mesh as it made contact with vulcanized rubber. Yes, it could have been an honest mistake - but after watching the play over and over (in real time and in slow motion), it is very difficult to conclude that the "goal" was the result of anything other than spite. Call me crazy and say I'm wrong because, quite honestly, I hope I am.
I'm sure there's an upside to this somewhere. Just forgive me if I have a hard time finding it.