Hazy goalie interference rule leaves Wings frustrated

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek, left, goes down as he collides with Panthers center Colton Sceviour during the third period on Saturday.

Sunrise, Fla. — If anyone should have a decent idea of what constitutes goalie interference, it’s Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader has had his share of calls with goalies over his career, bumping into or making contact with them  or not, upon review.

That made Saturday’s controversial call that went against the Red Wings Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau’s goal with 7.7 seconds remaining was reviewed and upheld, ruling no interference on goaltender Petr Mrazek  so mystifying to Abdelkader.

“I’ve seen it where I thought I was outside the crease, maybe my back end is in the crease and I barely make contact, and the goalie falls or isn’t able to make a save and it’s called no goal,” Abdelkader said. “I’m fine with that as long as it’s consistent. If there’s any contact if the goalie can’t make a save in the crease or gets bumped, I don’t care if it’s slightest bump and he can’t make the save, it has to be no goal.”

The Red Wings were shocked Huberdeau’s goal wasn’t overturned, with the game continuing into overtime and the Red Wings gaining at least one point  and maybe two, depending on what happened in overtime or shootout.

But with the latest round of goalie interference penalties causing confusion around the NHL, maybe it wasn’t all that surprising Huberdeau’s goal was ruled just fine because nobody knows what constitutes interference anymore.

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“That’s insane they called that a goal,” Abdelkader said. “I watched it, watched it on replay, watched it live. Greener (defenseman Mike Green) and him (Huberdeau) are battling in front and Greener never makes a big attempt to push him into the goalie. The skate is in the crease and makes contact with Mrazek.

“Regardless if Petr falls or not, Petr has to be able to make that save. He falls back and Huberdeau puts the puck in the net.

“It shocks me they call that a goal.”

Captain Henrik Zetterberg several times noted the inconsistency surrounding goalie interference these days and the difficulty it puts on players.

The standard, said coach Jeff Blashill, has changed as to what the interference is.

“Just from one week ago, a week ago there’s no chance (that’s a goal),” Blashill said. “Over the All-Star break they had lots of conversations. It’s changed in a week and that’s the hard part. Any time you change things mid-course, it’s hard for us to know exactly what the standard is.

“It’s certainly changed.

“We talk a lot during the early parts about the education process in the blue (paint) and if you’re in the blue and you don’t allow the goalie to play his position, those are going to get called back. I guess I have to re-educate my forwards in terms of going to the blue the other way. It’s frustrating for sure.”

Call or no call aside, the defeat was huge for a Red Wings team that is clawing for every possible point in the standings.

They had climbed to within six points after defeating Carolina Friday  but the loss put a substantial stop sign on the Red Wings as teams around them won.

“It’s frustrating because we battled our tails off to get at least a point in this game and to get that ripped away from us, at this stage of the season, it’s probably the most frustrated I’ve been,” Abdelkader said.

Especially when the rule is so hazy.

“Losing a game like this, with the points so important, on a call that yesterday could have been goalie interference and tonight it’s not,” Zetterberg said, "that’s what’s frustrating.”