NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 15: Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers won Game Seven of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but not without controversy. The Penguins, their fans and Pittsburgh media are fuming over what they thought was a missed penalty.
Here’s what happened. Alexis Lefrenière was pursuing the puck behind the net when he came in contact with Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson. They both went down and Lefrenière knocked Pettersson’s helmet off.
Pettersson had to go to the bench because of the NHL rule about playing without a helmet and the Rangers got a good scoring opportunity though they didn’t score. They kept the puck in the Pittsburgh zone and Mika Zibanejad scored the tying goal.
Here’s video of the whole play. You will see the entire play leading up to the goal. That’s followed by a replay of the what happened behind the net. Then there’s another closer look from another angle. Finally, there’s a freeze frame of the ice when Zibanejad scored.
Here’s the whole play that the Penguins are whining about. Pettersson should have put his helmet back on…instead of complaining to the refs. That’s why he had to go to the bench. Also, count the number of Pens on the ice when the goal is scored. pic.twitter.com/lgJkYUzi5f
— Steve Paulus (@spny1) May 16, 2022
Some things to note. Yes, Lefrenière knocked Pettersson’s helmet off when they both went down, but it happened because Pettersson drove the Ranger into the back of the net. If Pettersson doesn’t do that, Lefrenière doesn’t go down while grabbing Pettersson and the Penguins’ helmet does not come off.
Second, 14.8 seconds elapse between the helmet coming off and the goal being scored. In that time, the Penguins actually get possession of the puck, but John Marino loses it. In hockey, 15 seconds is an eternity.
Third, Pettersson wastes valuable time waving his arms and complaining to the referee about him losing his helmet. In the time that he did that he could have skated over, picked up the helmet and got back into the play.
Fourth, count the number of Penguins on the ice when the goal is scored. There are five Penguins on the ice and no less than three between Zibanejad and the goal. Pittsburgh was not outnumbered in their zone.
Coach Mike Sullivan was outspoken when talking about it. “I think it stinks. He has to come off. His helmet got pulled off intentionally, but that’s the rule.” Sorry Mike, that’s not the rule.
Here’s the rule: A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play shall be assessed a minor penalty if he does not exit the playing surface, or retrieve and replace his helmet properly on his head (with or without his chin strap fastened), within a reasonable period of time. It is reasonable if a player who is making a play on the puck or who is in the vicinity of the puck and engaged in the play at the time his helmet comes off, takes the opportunity to complete the play before either exiting the ice or retrieving and replacing his helmet.
Pettersson did not have to leave the ice. He could have put the helmet back on. Look at the image in this tweet…it says everything.
The Pittsburgh Penguins need to brush up on Rule 9.6 after a lost helmet led to the New York Rangers’ game-tying goal. https://t.co/yDsKj9zGS7
— Scouting The Refs (@ScoutingTheRefs) May 16, 2022
It’s sad that Sullivan had to take the low road after the game. It’s inconceivable that Gerard Gallant would have said anything like that if it was the Rangers who were the losers.
Sidney Crosby weighed in as well calling it “A terrible rule ends up probably being the difference in the game.” By saying that the rule was the difference, Crosby just enhances his reputation as a whiner. That’s not what you expect from a future Hall of Famer and a team captain.
It’s probably the most understandable that Tristan Jarry was upset after the game. He talked about the rule and the play. “I just saw Marcus skate off the ice. I think that’s a rule made by the NHL that could be changed. I don’t think there’s many injuries that happen when players play without helmets. I think it’s something that cost us. I think that he loses his helmet, he comes back to the net and he plays a guy out front, I think that’s a nothing play.”
Yes, the other 64 minutes and 19 seconds had nothing to do with the final score.
What’s ironic is that the Penguins were victimized on a similar play against the Islanders last season in the playoffs. Cal Clutterbuck scored when John Marino left the ice because his helmet came off. Marino didn’ t know the rule is that he could have put the helmet back on and in fact, he had the helmet in his hands as he skated to the bench.
According to the website DK Pittsburgh Sports, the Penguins actually got a clarification on the rules from the NHL after that incident. Despite that, it appears Sullivan is still unclear on what the rulebook says. Oh yes, Marcus Pettersson was on the ice when it happened.
Of course, the idiots have to weigh in. Paul Bissonette takes the cake (and he is allegedly an expert and is given a platform to spout his stupidity on Turner Sports.
Crosby said it best. The helmet rule is the dumbest rule in hockey. The only way the Rangers could beat the Penguins was by playing scumbag hockey. Par for the course.
— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) May 16, 2022
The Rangers were handed that series. They will get worked by Carolina. #Fugazis
— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) May 16, 2022
The Penguins were playing a perfect shutdown 3rd period up by one. It took Pettersson getting his helmet ripped off just so the Penguins can lose themselves in their own end and just like that, series over. I’m still in disbelief.
— nhlpens (@nhlpens) May 16, 2022
Of course, there was some fun as well, courtesy of Mick Kern of NHL Radio.
Yup…Penguins’ fans are blaming:– helmet ripped off– Trouba hit– league preferring the Rangers– lunar eclipse– excess salt content in food– Magna Carta
— Mick Kern (@expomick) May 16, 2022
There’s no doubt that both teams could find a lot to complain about. Whether it was a dicey disallowed goal in Game One, the Trouba-Crosby play, or the Guentzel high stick, those things happen.
The fact remains that the Penguins had two two-goal leads in consecutive elimination games and blew them both. They had a 3-1 lead in in the series and blew it.
They had a chance to clear the puck on the play and couldn’t do it, and Marcus Pettersson was replaced by a future Hall of Famer in Kris Letang who had plenty of time to get into the play.
Instead of whining about a missed call, the Pittsburgh Penguins should look at themselves and maybe they should create a summer reading list for their players that includes the NHL rulebook. And Marcus Pettersson should take his medicine and own up that his failure to know the rules and to go pick up his helmet was the reason that they were discombobulated when the Rangers tied the game.
And if anyone missed this when the overtime started. There were two teams on the ice and they each had the same odds of winning the game.
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