CHICAGO -- We expect perfection. In this era of high-definition TV, replays as GIFs on Twitter moments after plays happen in real life and cameras from every angle, we know when a call is missed. Usually instantly.
In the case of Jonathan Toews' disallowed goal in the second period of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the right call was ultimately made. That’s good. It shouldn’t have been a goal because of the contact with Jonathan Quick. But in this case, it wasn’t about perfection, it was about process.
We’ve seen a few instances in this postseason of goalie interference calls -- or missed interference calls -- making an impact on the game.
In the first round of the Montreal Canadiens' series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a Ryan Callahan goal against Carey Price was disallowed because of a goalie interference call, when Lightning forward Alex Killorn ended up in the net before the goal was scored.
After the game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he was mad when the call was made initially, mad about it while answering postgame questions, and wherever he is right now he still probably isn’t too happy about it.
At the very least, it gave us this strong quote from Cooper, who told reporters: “We only scored three goals -- I mean two -- and they scored three.”
The Los Angeles Kings were able to complete their amazing comeback from 3-0 down against the San Jose Sharks in part because of a controversial goal from Justin Williams, who pushed Alex Stalock with his stick after Stalock made the initial save. The Sharks never quite recovered from the moment.
Players understand that goalie interference isn’t reviewable. They also understand that the lack of a review means sometimes they get away with one when interference occurs. These things have a way of working themselves out during the course of a long season, but Toews had hoped they were getting one of those breaks in Game 1.
“I didn’t really see how the puck went in, I just took it to the net and kind of lost it when I got to the short post,” Toews said. “Obviously, the puck was in, the guys were celebrating. ... When it comes down to it, it was disappointing because of how the play was called on the ice and the fact that it was non-reviewable.”
The initial call on the ice was a goal, and the red light lit up. This is where things got hazy.
From an outside perspective, it looked like it was sent to review, and the war room in Toronto determined that goalie interference should negate the goal. The problem with that is that the war room in Toronto can’t make that call.
The official explanation, along with a conversation with NHL officials in Chicago, helped clear up the process.
This was the statement from the NHL situation room: “The referee's original call on the ice was ‘good goal’ but a discussion between the on-ice officials resulted in a ‘no goal’ decision because Toews made incidental contact with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick before the puck crossed the goal line.”
What was missed by many of us, and apparently a livid Joel Quenneville on the Blackhawks bench, was that the officials huddled after the initial call and changed the call to no-goal before consulting the replay.
This is where the process needs some work.