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‘Too many men on the ice’ debate hangs over Kadri OT goal

Steve Levy joins Dan Patrick to discuss the "chaos" at the Stanley Cup Final, including the controversy surrounding the too many men on the ice debate in OT during Game 4.

Nazem Kadri’s Game 4 overtime goal should’ve been one of those storybook, “Hollywood” moments. Instead, for many, the “too many men on the ice” debate hangs over that Kadri overtime winner.

Cooper hints at ‘too many men on ice’ during Kadri Game 4 OT goal

Chances are, the debates were already happening. Still, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper added fuel to the “too many men on the ice” fire when he wondered if Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final would “still be happening” during his press conference.

“This one is going to sting much more than others, just because it was taking on … it was potentially … I don’t know … it’s hard for me. It’s going to be hard for me to speak. I’m going to have to speak. I’ll speak with you tomorrow,” Cooper said after Game 4, via ESPN. “You’re going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart breaks for the players. Because we probably still should be playing.”

As Cooper mentioned, he may expand on those comments sometime on Thursday. For what it’s worth, Avs coach Jared Bednar didn’t think much of it.

Watch that Kadri OT goal, starting with an alert pass by Darcy Kuemper, and a nice breakout by Artturi Lehkonen:

Initially, the focus was on how hard it was to detect that the puck was in the net. Clearly, the conversation eventually morphed into something else.

For what it’s worth, the NHL released the following statement on the matter:

This statement arose as people were really getting in the weeds. People noted that Erik Johnson was listed on the ice on a game sheet, which was then edited?

Did that matter? It only becomes more of a head-scratching situation as you dive deeper into the rabbit hole.

Fans break down debate from every angle

Every now and then, hockey fans justify comparisons to how people break down “The Zapruder Film.” The “too many men on the ice” controversy surrounding the Nazem Kadri OT goal justifies such comparisons.

Plenty of breakdowns cropped up along these lines, with people noting Kadri as Nathan MacKinnon’s replacement:

Naturally, there was backlash to the backlash.

Some countered about how many Lightning players were on the ice when the Avalanche may have been guilty of having too many men:

Beyond that, some fans cashed in receipts for when they believed the Lightning should’ve received a “too many men on the ice” penalty. Take, for instance, a moment that apparently prompted then-Islanders coach Barry Trotz to drop a stream of profanities:

Indeed, there were a lot of snipes and barbs. Luckily, there were also some good jokes.

Reviewing ‘too many men on the ice’ calls probably wouldn’t be worth it

So, did the Avalanche have too many men on the ice during the process of Kadri scoring that OT goal to win Game 4? Probably.

Things get fuzzier if you ask if that really made a material impact on the play.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo contacted two former NHL officials who both stated that it wasn’t worthy of a “too many men on the ice” call. More than a few observers believe it’s the type of exchange that happens often, and the NHL could open a can of worms if it overreacts to this controversy.

Sometimes, a sloppy line change is just a sloppy line change.

Personally, I’m amused that this specific call/non-call overshadowed a Game 4 that devolved into a wince-inducing example of “letting them play the game.”

There were some especially egregious non-calls, including a trip on Victor Hedman that had the veteran debating with officials. It’s unfortunate that consistent officiating wasn’t the bigger takeaway than a granular “too many men on the ice” debate.

NHL playoff history is dotted with officiating controversies. Some, such as Wayne Gretzky’s missed high-stick on Doug Gilmour, will reverberate through hockey history. Just about all NHL fans have some jarring memories, many with both calls that went for and against their teams.

It’s totally fine for Lightning fans to carry this one, especially if their team cannot rally from a 3-1 series deficit against the Avalanche. Here’s hoping this situation isn’t the sort of thing that inspires a hasty, sloppy overcorrection from the league, though.