For those that follow me in the Canucks Fan Zone Live Blog, you know that I’m not a big fan of Louie leaving the blue paint to play the puck. I understand the purpose of him doing so is to break up a dump in or to ensure immediate control by dishing it off to a defenceman, but I find that in recent times some trouble has come from this strategy and think he may be better off staying in the net. This is his comfort zone and unlike other netminders, he doesn’t have the same puck handling skill set available to him.
For instance, Marty Turco seems to have the knack at handling the puck outside of his crease and has a number of assists this season to show for it. He’s like a third blueliner when the need exists and has caught teams (Canucks included) numerous times on bad line changes, sending a forward in for an odd man rush by throwing the puck up the ice as quickly. This forces teams to provide an honest effort any time they dump the puck as if it’s short and no forecheck is present, Marty simply fires the puck back to where it came.
That being said, he may now think twice about doing that.
During the second period of last night’s game against Dallas, some nastiness ensued after Hordichuk leveled a wandering Turco (who was on the side boards about 10 feet up from the goal line). In the opinion of this arm chair referee, the hit itself was clean. Turco had just played the puck and shortly after doing so, he received the Hordi-smash. Within seconds of the hit, Hordichuk was hit from behind by Daley and a scrum quick developed. Hordi got two minutes for charging due to his efforts and fortunately for the Canucks, the referees were kind enough to even it up by sending Daley to the sin bin for roughing. According to the “code,” this was the fair way to go (but even better had Daley not followed to the box) to ensure that Louie was kept safe.
But therein lies the problem.
I’ll concede that I don’t know for sure and would encourage someone who does know to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware of anything in the rulebook that says the goaltender is sacrosanct outside of the crease. As far as I can see, it should not matter what position a player occupies should an opposing player decide to leverage a legal hit to generate a forecheck when the defending player is in possession of the puck. If it did, then why is it that no scrum occurs when a defenceman is rubbed out? Exactly.
Before you go and say that I’m asking that players begin to take a run at the goalie as soon as they step outside the blue, I’m totally against any action that is deemed illegal within the rules of play. Charging, interference, roughing and the like should still be enforced as they would be if they were to be committed against any other player. Furthermore, I also believe that the area to which a goaltender is protected should extend behind the goal line – something I believe makes sense as the amount of ice the keeper can play the puck in is quite small with the introduction of the “no go zone.” Not only do I think that by officiating a game this way will keep the goalie honest, it may open up the game.
And I’m sure many of you would agree, opening up the game isn’t a bad idea at all.