Few issues have puzzled the hockey-viewing community — and the hockey-playing community, for that matter — as this season’s controversy surrounding goalie interference has.
With increasing confusion throughout the regular season prompting the league to put in place a rule change that shifted the decision-making from on-ice officials to Toronto’s Situation Room in search of more consistency, the question in many fans’ minds was whether the controversy would stretch into the post-season.
As expected, the playoffs have already featured a few calls that have set off the Twitterverse, the latest coming Sunday afternoon during the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Game 2 loss to the Washington Capitals.
Don Cherry offered up his thoughts on the matter Sunday, saying the league’s trend away from heavy physicality — particularly in regards to today’s defencemen — is among the culprits.
“I don’t like anybody interfering with the goaltender at any time,” Cherry said during Coach’s Corner on Sunday. “… What happened in the days back in the ’70s, they had big, tough defencemen, and the referees used to say, ‘You want to stand in front, you pay the price.’ … Now you touch them on the back, they fall down, and the referees bite.
“The reason the guys are running the goaltender so much is because the defencemen can’t straighten them out.”
As for the Penguins’ potential interference situation in Game 2 — one of two controversial goal calls to occur in the tilt — Cherry said he thought Matt Murray and head coach Mike Sullivan had a solid case, as Capitals forward Brett Connolly appeared to push Murray’s right pad moments before a puck whizzed by his glove on the left side.
Though Sullivan challenged the play, the goal stood as the league deemed Murray had enough time to reset and make the save.
“You say, ‘Well that’s nothing’ — it throws them off, it gets them thinking, ‘What’s going on on the other side?’” Cherry said. “The goaltenders have a tough enough job as it is.”