Goaltender interference is a nebulous topic that often generates heated debates and a forgivably vague understanding of the actual rule on the play. It is forgivable that most fans don’t know exactly how to apply the rule, since the rule itself is written so vaguely.
NHL Rule 69 ,“Interference on the Goalkeeper” is explained mostly in the context of allowing or disallowing goals, with very little substance about the penalty context. The closest thing to explanatory language is:
“In all cases in which an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, whether or not the goalkeeper is inside or outside the goal crease, and whether or not a goal is scored, the attacking player will receive a penalty (minor or major, as the Referee deems appropriate). In all cases where the infraction being imposed is to the attacking player for hindering the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely in his goal crease, the penalty to be assessed is for goalkeeper interference.”
Under this provision, it would seem to me that Chris Kreider’s penalty last night wasn’t technically a penalty. He neither intentionally or deliberately initiated contact with Anderson, nor did he hinder Anderson’s ability to move freely in his crease; he accidentally bumped into him. Now, I suppose you could make an argument that bumping into him is hindering Anderson’s ability to move around his crease freely. That’s true, but I think we can agree that the drafting of the rule left something to be desired in the clarity department.
So far in this series, we have seen both teams try to get bodies and pucks to the net, which as resulted in some questionable contact with the goaltenders. Three plays stuck out to me last night alone of examples where contact with the goaltender became an issue: Nick Foligno’s goaltender inference penalty, Chris Kreider’s goalie interference penalty and Chris Neil’s goal at the end of the game. Let’s break ‘em down and see what we come up with.