Flyers & fans know what happened

THE NHL'S VIDEO review has been so successful, such a compelling part of its popularity, that other leagues have expanded its use in turn. Major League Baseball has a war room now, the NFL could be about to start one, and even the NBA and NCAA have expanded their use of replay.

But the NHL? It carries the ball when it comes to replay, or more accurately, it carries the puck.

And that's what it's about. Accuracy. Getting it right. Using the technology available to every cable-paying viewer to strive for an honest result, so that justice is served and, in the case of last night's Flyers-Devils game, the proper number of playoff points are dispersed.

Except that's not what happened. The Flyers' apparent tying goal was disallowed and the Devils won, 2-1.

"At 19:20 of the third period in the Devils/Flyers game, the Situation Room initiated a video review because the puck entered the New Jersey net," came the email from the NHL minutes after Scott Hartnell's goal was disallowed. "The referee informed the Situation Room that Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell pushed goaltender Martin Brodeur across the goal line with the puck. According to Rule 78.5 (ix) 'Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.' This is not a reviewable play, therefore the referee's call on the ice stands - no penalty and no goal Philadelphia."

Get it? The NHL disallowed a goal that it clearly could see went in in a different manner than the referee's perception because, well, rules are rules.

"The playoffs on the line and you make a call like that?" said Jakub Voracek, who made the pass into the crease. "It's a bleeping joke. When the buzzer went on, I was 100 percent sure it was going to be a goal. Because Hartsy was driving the net with [the Devils' Anton] Volchenkov and I don't think Hartsy went into Brodeur by himself. It was a battle for a loose puck and I cannot believe it was not a goal."

Here's what the replay showed: Hartnell and Volchenkov driving toward the net together in the game's final minute, banging each other off balance as the puck arrived in Brodeur's crease, each player banging into Brodeur as well, Volchenkov's legs giving a puck loose under Brodeur's pads the final push into the net.

"Volchenkov put all his weight on me and I had to step on him," Hartnell said. "I just tried to get it on net. You look at it 100 times and I'm pretty sure 100 times you're going to say it's a goal."

Try it. The more you watch, the more it is clear that Volchenkov not only bumps Hartnell into Brodeur, but his leg propels the puck past the goal line.

But the bottom line is this: If you're going to have replay, it can't be with restrictions. You can't be half a cop. If you, me, 19,967 at the Wells Fargo Center and a roomful of hockey mavens in Toronto have the ability to see something the officials could not, then why not go with the truth? Why not have an accurate result?

Please spare me the human-element and undermining-referee arguments. They were blown away the moment one of them hooked on a pair of headphones near the penalty box. It's about right, plain and simple.

And if they reviewed it and believed Hartnell did enough to wave off the goal? Well, at least there would be an explanation to be argued. Thing is, it was the NHL that reached out to the referees last night, not the other way around. So we were told.

And so the Flyers lost a game they could ill afford to lose, especially given their upcoming schedule. Much of their second-half surge has been spirited by third-period rallies, but this mentality has begun to bite them. The Flyers squandered six power plays last night from a team that leads the league in surrendering the fewest of them.

After a first-period power play in which they kept the puck in New Jersey's end for all but the last 12 seconds, they mustered just two more shots over the final 15 minutes. In winning his fourth straight, Brodeur was solid, but the Flyers spent much of the night finding everything but the New Jersey net.

Which put them in that position in the game's last minute, Steve Mason on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.

"Definitely wasn't our best game," Hartnell said. "We had a lot of chances and a lot of opportunities."

 


Email: donnels@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @samdonnellon

Columns: ph.ly/Donnellon