Trip and Strip!
Anaheim's #15 Ryan Getzlaf trips Detroit's #55 Nicklas Kronwall but no penalty is called and Getzlaff takes the puck and goes in to score on Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard. Getzlaf's unassisted goal, his second tally of the night, comes with only :24 left in the 3rd period and gives the Ducks a 3-2 win over the Red Wings on October 11, 2014. (Click to emgiggen. Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
It's probably taken me 4 days to write the game story from Saturday night--Anaheim's 3-2 win over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena--because of the headline (see above) that I knew I was going to have to write.
I'm a goalie and because I'm a goalie I know from my own personal experience that when you blame the goalie when the puck goes in, which by the way you do every single bleeping time the puck goes in, all y'all are RONG somewhere between 80 or 90 percent of the time. Like last Thursday night in the opener when Boston's first goal went in over Jimmy Howard's shoulder and I had to (calmly) explain that if Howard hadn't gone down you'd all be complaining about how the puck had beaten him low (OMG! THE 5 Hole? That is SO WEAK!!!) because when there is an NHL shooter winding up and firing from inside the top rim of the circle you'd better get down and take away the bottom of the net right away because you sure as heck aren't going to have time to get down once he releases because from that distance. From 30 feet an NHL slapshot will get to you before you can drop and spread 'em but you still have to take away the bottom of the net because it's a lot easier for these guys to beat you low than it is for them to pick that little spot over your shoulder and under the crossbar and beat you high and when they do, well, good for them. Etc.
That said, the first two goals Saturday night were Howard's fault; totally. And the Wings lost 3-2. So, it's the goalie's fault. The 3rd Ducks goal was on the ref and we'll get to that in a minute but first the two bad ones allowed by Howard.
It was scoreless in the second when Howard, trying to flip it into the corner to his left where Nicklas Kronwall was waiting, instead turned it over to Anaheim's Patrick Maroon (wearing the new Ducks uniform that appear to have some sort of weird pumpkin spice motif going on which is nice for this time of year) who slid it out in front of the empty Detroit net. It looked like Howard and the Wings had caught a break when Corey Perry couldn't handle it and the puck slid off the end of his stick but, uncovered, Ryan Getzlaf moved right in and blasted it by Howard who was still scrambling a bit to get back into position and who thus did not have time to either get square to his shooter or to set his feet. When a goalie's feet are moving at release, the puck goes in about 100% of the time. I don't know why this is, I just know that it is. That's what happened in this case and Anaheim had scored the all-important First Goal of the Game.
The Wings came back however and led 2-1 in the third when Howard made his second big mistake. Ryan Kessler's centering pass from behind the net went through the crease and Howard failed to block it and Matt Beleskey took the clean feed and fired it by. Phil Myre, one of the great guys in hockey whose CV includes having been the #1 goalie for a couple of teams called the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers, told me one night that if a pass goes through the blue of the crease and the goalie doesn't block it or deflect it, anything that happens subsequent to that failure is on the goalie. Kessler's pass, right along the ice, almost hit Howard in the skate but his stick was not on the ice and it went straight through to the open man when Howard could have and should have blocked it and it was a one-timer into the back of the Detroit net and a 2-2 tie.
All of that said, everybody thinks the Wings lost Saturday night because neither of the referees, Tom Kowal or Kelly Sutherland, called Getzlaf for tripping Kronwall deep in the Detroit zone with the game still tied 2-2 in the final 30 seconds of the third period. Getzlaf (see picture above) took Kronner off his skates, took the puck, and moved in laterally out of the right wing corner to beat Howard with a backhand while Detroit's other defenseman Jonathan Ericsson took it all in from a nice vantage point: stationary near the far goalpost. Perhaps Ericsson thought a penalty was surely coming and he decided to wait for the whistle. In any event, he was every bit as involved in the play as was any fan you care to name who was sitting in the lower bowl.
Now the thing is, everybody is right. There should have been a penalty called on Getzlaff who never should have scored and the Wings should still have been in a tie game and on the power play going into overtime, assuming they didn't score a go-ahead PPG (Power Play Goal) in the final 25 or so seconds left in regulation, or surrender a short-handed goal before the buzzer.
I, for one (and maybe I'm the only one), am not particularly up in arms about this. Things happen. Mistakes are made. The applicable sports cliche here is that "they all even out over the course of the season." Sometimes it takes a little more than a season, that's all.
Remember last year when the Wings won a key late-in-the-season game at home against the Kings when somebody first a shot that went over the glass behind the LA net and caromed off the screen and hit Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the back and went it? It was as blatant a miss by the officials as you can name. The puck is supposed to be dead when it hits the netting above the glass as it is the same thing as the puck going out of play. But none of the officials saw it and last year (they've changed it this year because of what happened in Detroit that night last season) it was not reviewable. Imagine if the point that goal wound up costing LA had cost them a playoff spot? It almost did, you know. They were the 8th and final seed, remember? And they went on to win the Stanley Cup. If that goal, that blown call, had cost them a playoff berth, well, it would have cost them a Stanley Cup would it not?
So, the cliche, like so many cliches has the ring of truth-- it does all even out.
Boston is here tonight. The Wings beat 'em 2-1 last week in the season opener. Now they come in for the final time this season. Sometimes the NHL schedule, like life itself, goes by in the blink of an eye.