Seattle Kraken, Philipp Grubauer

Interference Non-Call Spices Up Kraken-Stars Series

The Kraken Goalie Bump That Wasn’t

We won’t re-litigate the goalie interference controversy from Tuesday night’s Game-4 of the second round series between the Seattle Kraken and Dallas Stars.

The hell we won’t. On Max Domi’s shot that gave the Stars a 3-0 2nd period lead, Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer was clearly impeded by Jamie Benn – not egregiously, but enough, not once, but twice. Of course, the on-ice officials and Situation Room in Toronto didn’t happen to agree.

Regardless, the way Dallas outplayed Seattle for two periods, it’s unlikely nullifying the goal would have changed the outcome. The Stars won 6-3, evening the best of seven at two wins apiece. Game-5 is tonight at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Kraken Comments, In Mild And Spicy Varieties

The play did expose an interesting sidelight. Kraken players and coaches knew they would be asked to comment after the game, forced to choose whether to give the “safe” answer, or explain how they really felt. The responses ended up ranging from bland to habanero.

Jaden Schwartz, who scored twice and has five playoff goals to lead the Kraken, chose the diplomatic route.

“I didn’t get a good look. (Benn) bumped into (Grubauer). I wasn’t sure if he bumped into him again, or what exactly they were looking at,” Schwartz stated.

Were the Kraken expecting the goal to be waved off?

“We never really know,” he added. “Coaches have a good look at the TV screen in the back. We’re not sure what the ruling is after that.”

Schwartz’s take wouldn’t make it onto the Scoville hot sauce scale. Kraken Winger Jared McCann, out injured for six games before returning Tuesday, gave a spicier answer. If his comments were a pepper, they’d land somewhere between cayenne and devil’s tongue.

“I have no idea what the hell goalie interference is anymore. I really don’t,” said McCann. “I don’t think anybody does in this league. We thought it was guaranteed goalie interference. He made contact with Grooby, and then the puck went in. It was pretty obvious.”

Hakstol Expected To Win His Challenge

Like a good hot sauce, coach Dave Hakstol after the game started off mild, but before long, you could feel the burn. Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop described Hakstol as he began his Game-4 press conference.

“His white dress shirt remained crisp, his graying hair impeccably parted and goatee neatly trimmed, his sharp blue suit absent even a single wrinkle. He folded his arms in front of him and clasped both hands.”

“I don’t want to get into my specifics,” the coach began. “I challenged it because I felt it was goaltender interference. They deemed it was not. That was the call that was made.”

Well, that’s that. **Wipes Hands** Move along, people. Nothing more to see here.

Or was there?

“I didn’t get an explanation of why it was a good goal,” Hakstol unexpectedly continued. “I can go through the theories as to how it was broken down.”

Then, unprompted, he did.

“I just felt Grooby got blown out of the crease. Regardless of the amount of time in between (the two Benn bumps), to be able to reset was impossible, because he got too blown out of the crease.”

A strong argument to be sure. Makes sense. Now, what about McCann returni…

“In my opinion, there’s really something wrong there, right?” coach continued.

Hakstol then explained he wouldn’t have risked his challenge – and the minor penalty that came when it wasn’t upheld – on a borderline play.

“That’s the way that I evaluate it,” he said. “I don’t look for something that’s close, splitting hairs. Grooby did not have a chance to do his job.”

Hakstol is such a cool customer, he could have a mouthful of ghost peppers and you wouldn’t see him sweat. So the coach knew it was time to reset his own thermostat.

“It is what it is,” he concluded. “Those calls are made and they happen all the time.” 

Editor’s Note: And hand-in-hand with that … in our little straw poll in the press box while awaiting the review verdict, it was 50-50 “will get overturned”, “won’t get overturned”, which is very common on game broadcasts and on panels, proving the subjective and unpredictable nature of the calls not just for the officials but for everyone watching.

Brian Boucher, the color commentator on the live national telecast, said upon seeing the replay, “oh yeah, this one’s gonna come back …”

By the way, postgame, Stars coach Pete DeBoer said he hadn’t really watched it but felt the contact was outside the crease (the first big bump was in the crease) and that Grubauer had a chance to re-set.