Before I begin I want to make one thing totally clear: the officiating is not the reason the Boston Bruins lost to the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 last night. While the men in stripes had a terrible game the Bruins were even worse, and the game was not as close as the final score would make it seem. But one has to ask what would have happened had referee Dan O’Rourke correctly applied the goaltender interference rule to Loui Eriksson’s goal O’Rourke disallowed and subsequently reviewed at the 6:30 mark of the second period last night due to Patrice Bergeron’s alleged interference off Montreal netminder Carey Price.
Interference on the goaltender is covered under rule 69, and below I have copied and pasted rule 69.1 so everyone can familiarize themselves with the language of the rule. The other sections of the rule deal with the potential penalties, intentionally checking the goaltender, and some other stuff that really isn’t relevant to the discussion. Everything that applies to the situation can be found quoted here:
This rule is based on the premise that an attacking player’s position, whether inside or outside the crease, should not, by itself, determine whether a goal should be allowed or disallowed. In other words, goals scored while attacking players are standing in the crease may, in appropriate circumstances be allowed. 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; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgement of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.
For purposes of this rule, “contact,” whether incidental or otherwise, shall mean any contact that is made between or among a goalkeeper and attacking player(s), whether by means of a stick or any part of the body.
The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.
If an attacking player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending player so as to cause him to come into contact with the goalkeeper, such contact will not be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.
The important portion of this rule is paragraph four, which states that if an attacking player is pushed into the goaltender and the attacking player makes a reasonable effort to avoid contact the attacking player would not be deemed as initiating contact, so the goal would stand.
So now knowing all that we look at the video. The video can be found right here on the NHL’s site, which after it plays the annoying ad you should be able to watch it numerous times before the ad plays again. The NHL also conveniently lists in section (b) some of the things I’ve already listed above.
The video is pretty clear that Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin pushes Bergeron toward Price and the only contact is the now screened Price bumping his head on Bergeron as Price searches for the puck. The only question is does Bergeron make a reasonable effort to avoid Price after he is pushed by Emelin, and it sure looks like he does as Bergeron attempts to hold his ground outside the crease and makes no intentional move whatsoever toward Price. It’s Price’s movement looking for the puck that causes the contact.
Even more telling, watch Price’s reaction as the puck goes past him into the net. He makes no move to complain, and when he realizes referee O’Rourke is waving the goal off Price sort of has that cat that ate the canary look to him. Price reacts like it was a good goal.
Because it should have been.