The New Jersey Devils defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2 in double overtime of Game 7 early Friday morning to advance to the Eastern Conference semi final, but almost had their season ruined by the puck-over-the-glass delay of game penalty. The Panthers’ Marcel Goc tied the game on the power play with 3:28 remaining while Marek Zidlicky was in the penalty box for committing that infraction.
The logic behind this rule is that it prevents teams from purposely getting a stoppage in play, especially when they are trapped in the defensive zone for a long period of time. However there is another rule, icing, that has the same idea, and a much less severe penalty. A player can just as easily whip the puck the length of the ice in order to stop play, and yet the only consequence is the players on the ice aren’t allowed to change. There are plenty of occasions in which an icing has occurred on purpose, so why isn’t that given a penalty as well?
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick was penalized earlier this season on a play that was clearly accidental after deflecting a Henrik Sedin saucer pass over the glass. From Puck Daddy:
“I don’t disagree…that the call was absurd, but the problem is that it wasn’t the wrong call; it was by the book.
The stupid, stupid book.”
As Harrison Mooney explains, it is a penalty to deliberately clear the puck over the glass in the neutral and offensive zone, and a penalty to do so in the defensive zone regardless of intent. The word “deliberately” having been removed eliminates any discretion by the ref and penalizes accidents. However the rule does say “non-deflected” pucks only and you can definitely make an argument the puck was simply deflected by Hunwick.
There was another incident last season in which Matt Cooke was given the least deserved penalty of his career when he cleared the puck the entire length of the ice and it still went over the glass. It’s baffling how that can be worth two minutes.
It would have been a shame to have that penalty decide Game 7, but it has happened before. The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes were locked in a fierce battle in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals, and Game 7 was tied at two with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third period. Defenseman Brian Campbell cleared the puck over the glass, and the series-winning goals was scored while he was in the penalty box. You can see the infraction at 1:08 of this video. There’s no way a call like that should decide a series.
It should be treated like an icing. The only time it’s ever done on purpose is when a team is trapped in their own zone. Not allowing them to change, like with icing, solves this problem. At the very least, it should be at the referee’s discretion to decide whether or not it was intentional.