Silent Archimedes

When is not a goal a goal in hockey?

Posted by silentarchimedes on December 17, 2008

Something interesting happened in the game between the New York Rangers and the Anaheim Ducks tonight. A goal was awarded to the Rangers in the final second of the game even though the puck did not cross the goal line! Now before I explain how that can happen, I am unaware of this possibility in football or baseball. Even if a wide receiver is interfered with in the end zone, the consequence is simply a pass interference penalty that puts the ball at the goal line. In baseball, the closest thing might be a balk with the bases loaded that forces in a run without the benefit of any doing by the offensive team. However, in basketball, there does exist instances in which a basket is counted even when it has not gone into the net… which is called goaltending.

So, what happened in the Rangers-Ducks game to warrant a goalless goal? Nikolai Zherdev was on a breakaway towards an empty net when he was tripped up by Chris Pronger. In normal situations, Zherdev would be awarded a penalty shot. However, a penalty shot in this situation would be unfair to the Rangers. The official NHL rule book actually addresses this situation:

26.1 Awarded Goal – A goal will be awarded to the attacking team when the opposing team has taken their goalkeeper off the ice and an attacking player has possession and control of the puck in the neutral or attacking zone on, without a defending player between himself and the opposing goal, and he is prevented from scoring as a result of an infraction committed by the defending team (see 26.3 Infractions –When Goalkeeper is Off the Ice, below).

That’s awesome. I actually would’ve preferred a penalty shot on an empty net to formalize the goal. I equate that to an intentional walk in baseball in which the pitcher still has to throw four balls wide of home plate to formalize the bases on balls.

If you do a search on Awarded Goal in the NHL rulebook, there are actually several instances in which a goalless goal may occur. Most, if not all, occur when the goalie is removed for an extra attacker. My favorite one is Rule 67.5. To summarize, if the goalie builds a snowman in front of the net before he leaves the ice for an extra attacker, the opposing team is awarded a goal. Hahahaha!

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