The NHL General Managers are currently meeting in Boca Raton to discuss league issues and possible rule changes, including possible expansion of what can be reviewed by the league’s situation room.  The Flyers and Devils gave them a perfect case to discuss in Tuesday night’s game.

With the Devils leading by one late in the third, Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell drove to the net.  New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov attempted a hit, bounced off Hartnell, and fell to the ice.  The two slid into the goal crease – and goaltender Martin Brodeur – along with the puck.

As they do every time the puck enters the net, the league’s Situation Room called down to the on-ice officials.  Like ‘intent to blow’ calls, this one is purely in the hands of the on-ice referees – for this game, Tom Kowal and Mark Lemelin.  Incidental contact with the goaltender is not currently reviewable.  Once Kowal told them that he’d deemed Hartnell’s contact sufficient to wave off the goal, the discussion was over.

“That puck was under him. The playoffs are on the line and you make a call like that? It’s f—— incredible. Sorry for the language. But it’s a joke!”

“Hartsy was driving the net with Volchenkov. He didn’t go into Brodeur by himself. It was a battle for the loose puck. I can not believe it was not a goal. I don’t think he even blew the whistle. He waved no-goal. It was a shock for me.”

“I’m not going to cry over the goal, but 20 seconds left you better be goddamn sure to make that call if it’s like that.”

–       Flyers forward Jakub Voracek, via CSN Philly 

Brodeur thought the contact was inadvertent, but that the right call was made. “I’m not saying they did it purposely,” Brodeur said. “I think [Hartnell’s] momentum threw him into me, but it really prevented me [from making a save]. It didn’t warrant a penalty. That’s why they didn’t give him a penalty.”

“Volchenkov put all his weight on me and I had to step on him. I just tried to get it on net. You look at it 100 times and I’m pretty sure 100 times you’re going to say it’s a goal.”

“He said I might have made contact, but the defender was right on me,” Hartnell said. “He made contact with Brodeur first. If you see the puck, well behind the goal line. That wasn’t the issue. Frustrating. It’s a quick sport. But I don’t think it was the right call.”

“If they call it no goal with contact, they can’t overrule that in Toronto”

–       Flyers forward Scott Hartnell  via CSN Philly

“It’s a 50-50 play. It could have gone either way,” coach Craig Berube said.  Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux was equally diplomatic: “I’m not going to blame the refs. That’s a tough call . . . but it’s frustrating.” Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News was a bit more critical:

Here’s what the replay showed: Hartnell and Volchenkov driving toward the net together in the game’s final minute, banging each other off balance as the puck arrived in Brodeur’s crease, each player banging into Brodeur as well, Volchenkov’s legs giving a puck loose under Brodeur’s pads the final push into the net.

The more you watch, the more it is clear that Volchenkov not only bumps Hartnell into Brodeur, but his leg propels the puck past the goal line.

But the bottom line is this: If you’re going to have replay, it can’t be with restrictions. You can’t be half a cop. If you, me, 19,967 at the Wells Fargo Center and a roomful of hockey mavens in Toronto have the ability to see something the officials could not, then why not go with the truth? Why not have an accurate result?

Here’s the NHL’s official ruling:

At 19:20 of the third period in the New Jersey Devils/Philadelphia Flyers game, the Situation Room initiated a video review because the puck entered the New Jersey net. The referee informed the Situation Room that Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell pushed goaltender Martin Brodeur across the goal line with the puck.

According to Rule 78.5 (ix) “Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.

This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee’s call on the ice stands – no penalty and no goal Philadelphia.

On a night when the Flyers went 0-for-6 on the power play, it’s hard to blame the referees – no matter how frustrating this call may have been.