There was a ton of anger in the Flyers' dressing room following Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils (see Instant Replay).
The Flyers had a right to be angry over yet another goal disallowed, one that would have sent the game into overtime.
Referee Tom Kowal ruled that Scott Hartnell had made contact with goalie Marty Brodeur before the puck crossed the line.
It didn’t matter that defenseman Anton Volchenkov had made contact with Hartnell, knocking him into Brodeur.
Toronto called Philadelphia to ask for an explanation. Usually, it’s the other way around.
League officials there were told by Kowal the goal was denied on the ice for contact with the goalie. When a goalie is “pushed into the net,” to quote Rule 78.5 (ix), the goal is not subject to the league overturning or even reviewing. Toronto made the correct call based on the information given.
Here’s the thing. As much as the Flyers were wronged, the game should not have come down to a replay or a call on the ice as being the ultimate difference between a win or a loss, especially during a stretch run to the playoffs.
Not when the Flyers had not one but six -- count ‘em, six -- chances on the power play and did almost nothing offensively on four of them.
That’s why the Flyers lost -- not because Hartnell’s goal was denied.
“Our power play should have been difference,” said Hartnell, who played his 500th game in orange and black. “The biggest difference was Brodeur. We had several chances.
“Kimmo [Timonen] had probably a dozen chances from the top. There were rebounds there and we couldn’t seem to get one. Their penalty kill did a great job.”
And his non-goal?
Volchenkov hit Hartnell from the side and the Flyers winger ended up hip-checking Brodeur as the puck went into the net. It was the Russian defenseman’s fault but …
“He said I might have made contact, but the defender was right on me,” Hartnell said. “He made contact with Brodeur first. If you see the puck, well behind the goal line. That wasn’t the issue. Frustrating. It’s a quick sport. But I don’t think it was the right call.
“If they call it no goal with contact, they can’t overrule that in Toronto. Even last night we had [a goal] taken back … definitely wasn’t our best game, but it would have been nice to get a point though.”
And they would have like their power play to be even halfway decent.
Four of their six chances saw poor setup, poor containment, a lack of shooting lanes, etc. The Devils’ second-ranked penalty kill was outstanding with sticks in the lane, blocked shots and just one clear after another after another.
The non-goal should not have been the difference on a team as talented as the Flyers. That’s how it has to be viewed.
Six power plays?
“That probably should have been the difference,” coach Craig Berube said. “I thought the first period and third period the power play looked good. Shot the puck, had some good looks. Second period, not so good. Six power plays? You got to make it happen.”
Berube said Toronto didn’t know the exact reasoning behind the disallowed goal other than “contact” and once that word enters the picture, it becomes a moot point. It can’t be overturned.
“It’s a 50/50 play,” Berube said of Hartnell driving the net and Volchenkov defending him.
There was contact from the defender.
“Well he probably was,” Berube replied. “A 50/50 play that could have gone either way.”
Jakub Voracek wasn't as diplomatic. He said the call was "f------ incredible" (see story).
There were a number of calls in this game that could have gone either way against either team. The officiating between Kowal and Mark Lemelin left much to be desired.
New Jersey won the game because one player made the offensive difference and one made the defensive difference. Brodeur provided the defensive edge and the ageless Jaromir Jagr was the offensive edge.
The Devils’ leading scorer (57 points) assisted on New Jersey’s first goal early in the game and then found a teeny-weeny hole inside the right post at 7:42 on the third period for the game-winner.
It was vintage Jagr because only that kind of player can find a hole that goalie Steve Mason was sure he had covered up. That is why Jagr has 702 career goals. Players like him always find the open spot in the net.
“Just a little jam play and he was able to sneak it through,” Mason said. “He just found a little hole and chipped it and it snuck through there.
“He’s a big body, strong when he has the puck on his stick and he was able to protect it. He’s a natural goal scorer, but at the end of the day you got to make the save.”
Brodeur summed things up nicely.
“It was typical Devils-Flyers game,” he said. “Enjoyable game. Always nicer when you finish on top, but it was a fun game to play.”
The loss dropped the Flyers to fourth in the Metro and eighth in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs began today, the Flyers would meet Pittsburgh.
Rosters expand after the deadline and the Flyers called up another goalie in Yann Danis along with forward Chris VandeVelde, who ended up playing anyway, because Zac Rinaldo was announced out late in the day with an upper-body injury.