Every New York Rangers fan knows Chris Kreider is a big, solid guy. At six feet three inches and 230lbs, that isn’t an understatement. It is also well known that Kreider is fast, and he pushes hard with his speed. Kreider is not a dangerous player, nor is he a dirty player. The Montreal Canadiens would have everyone think differently. In game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, Kreider collided with goal tender Carey Price; also six feet three inches and 212lbs, who is now out with a lower body injury. Each person has their own take on the “event” based on their biases. While two of the Canadiens’ players are flanking Kreider, the closest player in red during the play, is Alexei Emilin. Both players are behind Kreider on the ice throughout the play.
This slow motion replay of the “event” show Emiln’s stick makes contact with Kreider’s skate, knocking him off balance as he progresses towards the goal. Notice Kreider was just returning his blade to the ice during his stride as the stick makes contact. Kreider’s balance is not completely solidified at this point.
NHL Rule 24.1 states:
A penalty shot is designed to restore a scoring opportunity which was lost as a result of a foul being committed by the offending team, based on the parameters set out in these rules.
Was a foul committed against Kreider? Former Ranger, Brandon Prust, thinks Kreider’s fall was “accidental on purpose”.
Well, call it what you will, the tapes don’t lie. So let’s break down how the referees failed to give Kreider a penalty shot for Emilin’s course of action.
NHL Rule 24.8 states:
Infractions – Refer to the Reference Tables – Table 13 – Summary of Penalty Shots for a list of the infractions that shall result in a penalty shot being awarded (see specific rule numbers for complete descriptions). There are four (4) specific conditions that must be met in order for the Referee to award a penalty shot for a player being fouled from behind.
The conditions are:
(i) The infraction must have taken place in the neutral zone or attacking zone, (i.e. over the puck carrier’s own blue line); [Kreider was clearly in the offensive zone attacking the goal]
(ii) The infraction must have been committed from behind; [Emilin was behind Kreider]
(iii) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have been denied a reasonable chance to score (the fact that he got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and he was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded); [Kreider had control of the puck and he was on his way to getting a clear shot on goal.]
(iv) The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, clearly would have obtained possession and control of the puck) must have had no opposing player between himself and the goalkeeper. [There isn’t anyone between Kreider and Price nor is there anyone else close enough to get there.]
The afore mentioned Table 13, lists the examples of infractions as:
(i) Deliberate illegal substitution
(ii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings during the course of a breakaway
(iii) Intentionally dislodging the net from its moorings when the penalty cannot be served in its entirety within regulation time
(iv) Falling on the puck in the goal crease
(v) Picking up the puck with the hand in the goal crease
(vi) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by an object thrown or shot by a defending team player
(vii) Player on a breakaway who is interfered with by a player who has illegally entered the game
(viii) Player or goalkeeper throws or shoots an object at the puck in his defending zone
(ix) Player on a breakaway who is fouled from behind
We already cleared up how the last stipulation applies to the situation. While it is unfortunate for Montreal to lose their goal tender, it is also important to note Price’s injury history this season. At the end of January, there were speculations Price may not compete in the Sochi Olympics in Russia due to nagging injuries. He traveled with team Canada to Sochi with minimal appearances on ice while there. On 26 February 2014, Price was placed on injured reserve with a “lower body injury”. For the Canadiens to use this occurrence with Kreider as a crutch, shows they aren’t ready to be at this level right now. The Canadiens managed to get through the season without Price 100% ready to play. Rather than rallying around each other to succeed, the team is allowing themselves to give up before the series really gets started.