After praising the rule changes, I have finally found a flaw in the armor, goaltender interference. Olaf Kolzig was quoted in the Wash Post:
"I just wish they'd watch out for goaltenders a little more," he said. "It's tough enough trying to stop the puck without having guys falling on you and saying it was accidental.”
I thought maybe Kolzig was just having a bad night, or that the defensive core was too inexperienced to be in front of Kolzig. Then I watched the Colorado’s home opener against the Flames and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was shoved in the crease by Avalanche players all night.
The game itself was a blow out (Avs 7, Flames 3), but even if a Stanley Cup team can’t keep their goaltender safe from being bounced around, Refs need to have the goaltenders back. Goaltenders already are in vulnerable positions while making the save. Especially if they are flexed out on their knees to make a save and the opposing player is camped on the crease line with his stick and body all over the goaltender. There is nothing the defense can do, or else get called for a hold or interference call.
It is the story with a lot of teams that have the great talents to crash the net. The defense is powerless to stop you and the Referees will let players get nice and cozy in the crease. The Capitals in a way have started to figure that out themselves, long shot to the net and crashing it to gobble up the rebound. It happened on a spectacular goal that Emmiger scored against the Rangers with 2 tenths of a second left in the second Period.
But how far is too far, should the league consider bringing back the no player in the crease at all rule or leave it up to the discretion of the Refs? For Kolzig, he knows he is a tough goaltender when the shots are 15 feet out, but in this new NHL it’s different. In the post Kolzig was quoted:
“Five, six years ago, you couldn't put a skate lace in the crease. Now it's no holds barred. [Peter] Bondra was on top of me, Larsen ran into me, [Marc] Savard ran into me."
And it’s not just happening to the Capitals goaltender. Watching the NHL in action, players are getting closer to the goalies and more wrap around attempts and more stuff-it-in plays are abound. If the League doesn’t watch out for the goalies, then it’s not only their save percentage that will be bruised.
Caps play the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the RBC Center 7:00 pm.
TV - Comcast Sports Net, Radio - 570 AM