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Sabres Game 53: Seriously? February 7, 2016

Posted by tomflesher in Hockey, Sports.
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Last night’s Sabres at Bruins ended on a controversial call. NESN described the hooking call on Rasmus Ristolainen as “questionable at best,” but Brad Marchand was awarded a penalty shot 2:32 into the overtime period. Ristolainen was skating hip to hip with Marchand; Marchand flipped Ristolainen’s stick out of his hands while Risto was attempting to play the puck, and Ristolainen followed up with a two-handed shove. Bafflingly, a hook was called, despite Ristolainen’s lack of a stick. In the video below, the “infraction” is signaled at 0:13, well after Ristolainen loses his stick.

Note that the NHL’s rule on hooking reads (in relevant part):

Hooking – Hooking is the act of using the stick in a manner that enables a player to restrain an opponent.
It’s doubtful Ristolainen committed any infraction at all. He played Marchand closely, but there’s nothing illegal about that. He grabbed Marchand’s jersey and shoved him with two hands, but neither of those actions is a “restraining” or “physical” foul. No boarding, charging, checking from behind (which requires a victim unable to prepare for the hit, and Marchand was clearly aware of Ristolainen), clipping, elbowing, fighting, headbutting, checking to the head, kicking, kneeing, roughing, slew-footing, throwing equipment (that was Robin Lehner after the game), or hooking. At worst, Ristolainen’s jersey grab was a hold. Holding is one of several rules that cross-reference Rule 57.3 (Tripping, Penalty shot), which reads:
The intention of this rule is to restore a reasonable scoring opportunity which has been lost. If, however, the player fouled is able to recover and obtain a reasonable scoring opportunity (or a teammate is able to gain a reasonable scoring opportunity), no
penalty shot should be awarded but the appropriate penalty should be signaled and assessed if a goal is not scored on the play.
“Control of the puck” means the act of propelling the puck with the stick, hand or feet. If while it is being propelled, the puck is touched by another player or his equipment, or hits the goal or goes free, the player shall no longer be considered to be “in control of the puck”.
In order for a penalty shot to be awarded for a player being fouled from behind, the following four (4) criteria must have been met:
The infraction must have taken place in the neutral or attacking zone (i.e. over the puck carrier’s own blue line). (Met)
The infraction must have been committed from behind. (This is a stretch – Ristolainen was skating closely with Marchand.)
The player in possession and control … must have been denied a reasonable chance to score. The fact that the player got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and the player was denied a “more” reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should still be awarded. (Robin Lehner’s play out of the crease and subsequent poke-check definitely cast doubt on this.)
The player in possession and control (or, in the judgment of the Referee, the player clearly would have obtained possession and
control) must have had no opposing player between himself and the goalkeeper. (Met)
It’s entirely possible that Lehner would have given up a goal eventually, but to award a penalty shot – Marchand’s second this season! – rather than a two-minute minor – if anything at all! – was a seriously questionable call.