Pronger: Ref costs Flyers a win

The Flyers think they should have won Friday's game against visiting Calgary, 3-2, in overtime.

Instead, Calgary escaped with a 3-2 victory because it outscored the Flyers in the shoot-out.

The Flyers, then, picked up one point instead of two.

It should be known that the Flyers weren't as sharp as they've been in recent weeks. Still, they looked like they had a victory when Mike Richards scored late in the OT.

Just before Richards connected, Chris Pronger waved his left arm in front of Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for a split second while the Flyers were on a four-on-three power play.

Was Pronger waving for Richards to shoot the puck or move closer to the net?

Or was he trying to distract the veteran goalie?

Ghislain Hebert, in his first full season as an NHL referee, believed the later. As a result, Richards’ goal was disallowed and the game went into a shoot-out.

Replays showed Pronger with his left arm raised and quickly brought down - and no penalty called until three seconds later, after Richards’ shot went past Kiprusoff. When Richards took his shot, Pronger’s stick was down, with both hands clutching it.

If it was a penalty, the referee should have called it right away _ and not waited until a goal was scored to put up his arm, signifying an infraction.

“I wasn’t turned around at him (or) waving in his face,” said Pronger, who had his back to the goalie during the play.

The refs told Flyers coach Peter Laviolette that Pronger deliberately tried to distract Kiprusoff.

After the game, the refs refused talk to the media.

“Because they know they screwed up, that’s why,” Pronger said.

Earlier in the interview, Pronger tried to deflect questions about him and the referees.

“I’m not going to get into a he said/she said with the refs,” Pronger said.  

He grinned.

“And I’m the 'he.' ”

Hebert had refereed 11 NHL games before this season. He apparently made all of the penalty calls Friday, including some questionable boarding penalties.

Richards said he thought Pronger was calling for the puck with his wave.

Kiprusoff, naturally, agreed with Hebert’s decision to negate Richards’ goal _ shot from above the right circle _ and penalize Pronger.

“Maybe the call was a little late, but I know the referee saw it, so it was a good call,” Kiprusoff said.

Pronger was given an unsporstmanlike conduct penalty, negating the Flyers’ power play with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in overtime.

The infraction is known as the Sean Avery Rule. The Rangers’ Avery waved his hands in front of Devils goalie Martin Brodeur in the 2008 playoffs, causing the rule to be added. Unlike Pronger, Avery was facing the goalie as he waved his hand in front of the goalie’s face.

When the rule was first written in 2008, it apparently stated that a penalty would be called if a player waved his arms (or stick) while facing the goalie. The NHL's 2010-11 rule book, however, lists nothing that I can find about whether the offending player has to be facing the goalie or can have his back to him.

The NHL did not respond to phone calls or text messages about the issue, and the referees would not address the matter.

Maybe at the end of the season, if the point affects the Flyers' playof seeding, the NHL will respond.