I'm not going to regurgitate what you already know. The San Jose Sharks lead the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals, and the did so because of another
terrible missed call.
I saw it. You saw it. The entirety of the NHL saw it. Even after reading the rule, the goal should not have been counted and for all intents and purposes, they should still be playing hockey.
"A player shall be permitted to stop or ‘bat’ a puck in the air with his open hand, or push it along the ice with his hand, and the play shall not be stopped unless, in the opinion of the on-ice officials, he has directed the puck to a teammate or has allowed his team to gain an advantage, and subsequently possession and control of the puck is obtained by a player of the offending team, either directly or deflected off any player or official.”
Timo Meier very clearly bats the puck in a direction that gave his team an advantage. I'm not sure if Meier knew any of his teammates where in the vicinity, but batting the puck towards an open space in front of the opponents net does give his team the advantage. By the rule verbiage alone, it should have been blown dead. All four officials missed it and here we are. The Sharks lead the series 2-1.
It was another embarrassing black eye for the NHL officials and the oft-criticized replay rules. This latest miss only further drenches the already raging flames of change with gasoline. All the talk on social media and in the traditional media has been about the refs, the rules, replay and the Sharks as beneficiaries of said bad calls.
Today I heard a member of the generally unbiased media openly call for a Blues win because it would help undo the Sharks good fortunes in game 3.
This was not the first time I've heard of people openly rooting against the Sharks because of their luck. I saw Sharks' fans tweeting out their own embarrassment. The online trolls are having a field day at San Jose's expense. I live in Ducks' country and the hate is palpable.
All of the anti-Sharks rhetoric got me to thinking: Are people actually letting a few fortunate calls spoil what has been an otherwise remarkable playoff run, full of remarkable stories?
Hidden in the game 3 controversy was a pair of goals by Joe Thornton and Erik Karlsson. Another last-minute goal to force overtime by none other than Logan Couture. It was Couture's 14th goal of the spring, tying him for the most playoff goals in Sharks' history.
More redemption for Martin Jones. He rebounded from a terrible second period to hold serve in the third period and give his team a chance to force OT. And this is just in that game.
Let's not forget about:
- Tomas Hertl's double OT shorthanded goal in game 6 versus Vegas.
- Jones' 58 save gem in that same game 6.
- Turning a 3-0 game 7 deficit into a 4-3 lead with four goals on a five-minute major, which has happened - never.
- Back-to-back game 7 wins
- Joe Pavelski scoring a goal with his face
- Pavelski missing six games before returning to score the opening goal of another game 7.
- Barclay Goodrow with a beautiful overtime goal in a game 7 to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit
- A two-goal game from Marc Edouard-Vlasic.
- The overall playoff performances of both Hertl and Timo Meier.
- Brent Burns is Brent Burns. Second of the team in points and an elevated defensive game.
- Successful challenges by Pete Deboer and in-game adjustments that made all the difference in the outcomes of games.
I could keep on going, but that's all I could think of on the top of my head.
Trolls have already put an asterisk on the Sharks success and it's a damn shame. If they move past this round and somehow win the franchises first Stanley Cup, will San Jose be remembered more for all they overcame and accomplished? Or will they, unfortunately, be known as the team that reached hockey's pinnacle with a little help from their zebra striped friends?
What say you?
Thanks for reading,