During the second period on Saturday night, Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw made contact with Phoenix goalie Mike Smith. Here’s the video:
Shaw received a five minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct for the hit.
Despite TSN’s “experts” saying Shaw was reckless and malicious, this play is just another in an unfortunately growing list of examples of poor officiating impacting a postseason game.
You can watch the video and determine for yourself if there’s malicious intent behind Shaw’s hit, which appears to be helmet-to-helmet.
But let’s look into the black-and-white of the matter. Starting with the NHL rules.
If we take the call for what it was on the ice, “charging,” then let’s look to Rule 42.1, which deals with that specific call. It reads:
“Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner”
We’ve already failed upon the intial definition of the penalty assessed to Shaw. But let’s dig a little deeper into the rule to see what it has to say about contact with a goalie.
“A minor, major or a major and a game misconduct shall be imposed on a player who charges a goalkeeper while the goalkeeper is within his goal crease.
“A goalkeeper is not ‘fair game’ just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”
Opinions will differ regarding whether or not Shaw “made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact,” but there’s a bigger issue at play here than just the referees making the wrong call and assessing the wrong penalties.
When did goalies become exempt from the league’s concussion protocol?
Smith dropped as though he had been hit by a sniper from the upper deck at the Jobing.com Arena. He was down for some time, and the focus of the medical staff’s conversation with him on the ice was surrounding the focal point of the contact: his head.
This is a perfect example of a situation in which a player is required to leave the game for evaluation in the team’s quiet room.
Yet, once Shaw had been given the game misconduct penalty and was leaving the ice surface, Smith was putting his mask back on and taking his place between the pipes again.
Either Smith is as much a candidate for an Academy Award as he is for the Vezina, in which case the calls on Shaw were grossly inappropriate, or he needed to leave the game for the regulated amount of time.
Meanwhile, Smith stayed in the game and appeared to be as sharp, if not better, after the Shaw hit.
The 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs have seen almost every series impacted by terrible officiating, and the Blackhawks-Coyotes series has been far from the exception (see the Toews “interference” call for further evidence).
With the game finally having a platform in which every postseason game can be seen from coast-to-coast in the United States, the fact that stupid plays and terrible officiating is not something the league should allow, but they are as responsible as the zebras on the ice; the ugly incidents in New York and St. Louis on Saturday night are a result of Brendan Shanahan dropping the ball when disciplining Shea Weber.
The refs failed with how they handled the Shaw play, and it impacted the outcome of the game on Saturday night. How it impacts the series is yet to be seen.