Playoff physique slips into crease to impact goaltenders

The physicality of the NHL playoffs slips into the crease.

There’s already been a huge goal disallowed due to goalie interference, a starting goaltender was knocked out of a game after taking a headshot and a rookie goaltender faced an opposing star forward for unwanted contact.

“I think when the puck is there and you’re trying to score goals, guys go to the net, that’s how you score goals,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said Thursday. . “There is going to be this. I guess you’re going to see more of this stuff.

“That’s the other thing you probably try not to have in the game — the extra thing with contact with the goalkeepers. But this is playoff hockey and there is a lot of emotion and certainly a lot of physical elements. »

Players are generally not allowed to make contact with a goaltender, particularly when the goaltender attempts to move into the crease to stop a puck in play. This may cause officials to call goaltender interference goal, which may result in a 2-minute minor penalty or a disallowed goal.

Still, there is a degree of subjectivity when it comes to deciding what is allowed as “accessory” and how much contact is too much.

Add to that the fact that offenses increase with aggressive play – especially when it comes to getting traffic in front of the net for “dirty” goals like deflections or rebounds – and it’s easy to see why goalkeepers are pushed around and pushed around.

Brind’Amour saw it up close during Friday’s trip to Boston. Already beaten by number one goaltender Frederik Andersen through injury, the Hurricanes lost starter Antti Raanta in the first period of Wednesday’s Game 2 victory after the Bruins’ David Pastrnak hit him in the head with a gloved hand.

Rookie Pyotr Kochetkov came on and made 30 saves, though he found himself in a brief confrontation after Brad Marchand cross-checked him from behind as he kept the puck in play.

The goalkeeper objected with a slash and then his own push after the play. Marchand responded by swinging his stick to hit Kochetkov as the two ended up taking penalties.

Brind’Amour said it “couldn’t be more obvious” that the Bruins are targeting his goaltenders. The NHL fined Marchand $5,000 on Thursday for the slash.

The issue also surfaced at a critical time during the Pittsburgh-New York Rangers series opener.

Tied late in the third period, Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko collided with Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith — while being pushed by defenseman Brian Dumoulin — with enough force to throw DeSmith completely out of the crease. . Kakko sent the puck to Filip Chytil for an easy finish, although the goal was ruled out after review for interference.

The Penguins then won in triple overtime, led by backup goaltender Louis Domingue taking over from an injured DeSmith in the second OT.

“I feel like goalie interference this year has been a big question mark,” Minnesota Wild right winger Marcus Foligno said. “We just have to make sure we remove all that gray area by just doing our job and making sure we’re not in the crease and that area of ​​blue paint.”

HURRICANE at BRUINS, Carolina leads series 2-0 (7 p.m. EDT, TNT)

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Thursday the team won’t have defenseman Hampus Lindholm. He was knocked out of Wednesday’s game in the second period on Andrei Svechnikov’s sharp shoulder to chest, which left him staggering as he was helped into the locker room.

Additionally, Cassidy plans to give goaltender Jeremy Swayman his first playoff start after Linus Ullmark allowed four goals in each of the Game 1 and 2 losses.

MAPLE LEAFS at LIGHTNING, series tied 1-1 (7:30 p.m. EDT, TBS)

Two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning won Game 2 to improve to 16-0 after a playoff loss in the past three playoffs.

Now it’s Toronto’s turn to react.

“When our team was challenged, we responded very well. So we know what’s in store for us now,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Thursday.

Tampa Bay, which has won eight straight playoffs, hasn’t lost a straight playoff game since being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 first round.

“We knew the series was going to be long and tough,” Tampa Bay forward Alex Killorn said. “You want to stay stable throughout a series. I think that comes with, obviously, our experience.”

WILD at BLUES, series tied 1-1 (9:30 p.m. EDT, TNT)

The Blues return home with some defensive discomfort.

Robert Bortuzzo took a puck to the face and left in the Game 2 loss in the first period. Nick Leddy was sidelined from Game 2 due to an upper body injury he suffered and played in Game 1. Marco Scandella is yet to play with a lower body injury .

Coach Craig Berube said on Thursday he had no update on the injured defenders, although he indicated Bortuzzo had dodged a more serious result.

“Really tough game. Glad he did well. Not too hurt, you know what I mean? It could have been dangerous,” Berube said.

The Wild will try to win in St. Louis for the first time since November 11, 2018.

OILERS at KINGS, series tied 1-1 (10 p.m. EDT, TBS)

Edmonton has the advantage on the power play so far. The Oilers are 4 of 8 in two games, scoring a pair of goals with the man advantage in each.

By comparison, the Kings have been empty in their eight power plays in two games. And going back to the regular season, Los Angeles has converted 3 of 36 power plays (8.3%) in its last 12 games.


AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis and Fred Goodall in Tampa, Fla.; contributed to this report.


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