Get Outta My Crease: Should Goalie Interference Rules be Tweaked?

The ghost of Tomas Holmstrom continues to haunt the Detroit Red Wings.

During their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, Pavel Datsyuk made a fantastic spin move in the slot and backhanded a shot past Carey Price. However, Price bumped into Justin Abdelkader, whose skate was in the crease, and the goal was disallowed.

Here is the play if you haven’t seen it yet.

Based on the way the rules are written out, the referees made the right call. The rule states:

“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.”

Abdelkader was in the crease when Price contacted Abdelkader. However, it was Price that initiated the contact, not Abdelkader. Knowing there cannot be any contact with the goalie if a player is inside the crease, Price took full advantage of the rules and leaned into Abdelkader in hopes of drawing the penalty. There is too much gray area with this rule because it doesn’t mention anything about a goalie initiating contact it simply states contact.

The goal would have given the Red Wings a 2-0 lead with about eight minutes remaining in the third period. However, Montreal tied the game at 1-1 with about three minutes left and then won the game in overtime.

It’s essentially like flopping in basketball. Price sensed Abdelkader had entered his crease, and at the slightest touch, he knew there was a good chance the goal would be disallowed.

This begs the question: Should goalie interference rules be tweaked?

Coach’s Challenge

The NHL wants more scoring, but taking away goals because goalies are initiating contact whenever a player gets close to them is counterproductive to what the league is trying to do. But you also can’t have guys parked in the crease and not give the goalie a fair chance to make the save. A goalie shouldn’t have free rein to bump into any player in order to draw a call.

Perhaps there should be a coach’s challenge for situations such as incidental contact. If Mike Babcock challenges that play, the replay clearly shows Price leans into Abdelkader to initiate the contact, and the shot actually goes in the opposite direction Price is moving, which means Abdelkader really didn’t interfere with Price’s ability to make the save at all.

Incidental contact can be a hard thing to decipher, especially at full speed without the benefit of replay. Why not take a second look and see if there is an obvious intent to draw a call without attempting to make the save? If no intent can be found, then the goal can be disallowed.

I’d like to see it implemented next year. It can be tested in the preseason, and I can guarantee more goalies will worry about making the save rather than trying to draw an incidental contact call.

7 thoughts on “Get Outta My Crease: Should Goalie Interference Rules be Tweaked?”

  1. If a player interferes with the goalie inside the crease = no goal.
    If a player interferes with the goalie outside the crease = it has to be pretty aggressive. Otherwise, goal.
    But I also believe that if no contact can happen in the crease, then goalies have to expect contact OUTSIDE the crease.

  2. As Herm stated the second paragraph of 69.3 does state if the goalie initates contact while establishing his position and it interferes with his ability to make the save, the key here is was Price establishing his position in relation to making the save, as he was moving away from the direction the puck was going and leaned into Abby it is very apparent that Price’s way to make the save was to try to draw the call not to try play the puck. Since the league is cracking down on diving, i would like to think that they would crack down on this abuse of the rules by goalies as well.

  3. The second paragraph of rule 69.3, which Tom Mitsos conveniently left out, states, “If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed”. Yes Price initiated the contact. The way the rule is written, Price is allowed to make contact when establishing position. Until they tweak that part of the rule, it is perfectly clear; no goal. Like McBride stated, “Stay out of the crease if you don’t have possession of the puck”.

    • Like Bill stated above, Price leaned into Abdelkader in an attempt to draw a penalty rather than attempting to establish position to make a save. Had the puck came from the right side and Abdelkader was in the way, sure, that’s goalie interference. But it’s clear Price leans into Abdelkader to draw a call, as the puck is going to Price’s left as he moves right.

  4. Yes, of course it should be tweaked. Carey Price initiated the contact. There should be a coach’s challenge on goalie contact, especially in the event of a goal. This is ridiculous. Abdelkader’s skate is barely in the crease. Upon review, if a goalie is deemed to have initiated contact, the goal should stand.

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