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Barry Trotz surprised by disallowed goal after Frederik Andersen grabbed Nicklas Backstrom

Barry Trotz surprised by disallowed goal after Frederik Andersen grabbed Nicklas Backstrom

Up 4-2 in the third period in Game 4, the Washington Capitals thought they had given themselves some extra breathing room with a goal from Nate Schmidt, but it was immediately waived off by the referee for goalie interference by Nicklas Backstrom.

When watching the replay, you can’t argue that Backstrom did not make contact with Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen, but it’s hard to blame him when he is getting pushed into Andersen by defenseman Jake Gardiner and literally held by Andersen.

You can see the video of the play above.

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It’s pretty blatant. If Andersen had been a skater, he would have been called for holding. So when the goal was ultimately called back, it caught Barry Trotz off guard.

“I was actually surprised that we got our goal called back to be honest with you,” Trotz said to the media on Thursday. “I look at it and I think, that's a goal. I think sometimes you look at it and you see interference, but you got to look at what the goalie's trying to do too.

“I thought Andersen, honestly when I looked at it, he couldn't find the puck and I think he, from my perspective, it looked like he was looking to try to grab a call because he's wrapping his arm around Backstrom. Backstrom's actually trying to get out and they're trying to squeeze him in there and he's trying to pull him into him.”

The NHL released an explanation per its situation room blog stating, “After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee determined that Washington's Nicklas Backstrom interfered with Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen.”

If you find that explanation unsatisfying, well, it’s hard to blame you because it explains nothing. “It’s interference because it is.”

Perhaps the NHL should explain what they believe Backstrom should have done differently on that play because there is not much he can do if he is being simultaneously pushed and grabbed. There’s even a point where he throws his hands in the air basically showing the ref that he is not being allowed to move away from Andersen.

It seems like a bad precedent when a goalie can maintain contact with a player in order to get an interference call.

Said Trotz, “There's gamesmanship with the goalies too.”

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NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

NHL to move to Phase 2 of return to play plan by June 8

The NHL will transition to Phase 2 of its return to play plan, the reopening of team facilities for training activities, on June 8, the league announced Thursday.

Since the season was paused on March 12, the league has considered itself to be in Phase 1 of the plan, meaning self-isolation. While the NHL and NHLPA have made progress off the ice towards a return to play negotiating things such as the playoff format, throughout all those talks the league still remained in Phase 1. This is the first concrete step the NHL has taken towards an eventual return to the ice.

"Beginning June 8 – subject to each Club’s satisfaction of all of the requirements set out in the Phase 2 Protocol – Clubs will be permitted to reopen their training facilities in their home city to allow players to participate in individualized training activities (off-ice and on-ice)," a statement released by the NHL said. "Players will be participating on a voluntary basis and will be scheduled to small groups (i.e., a maximum of six Players at any one time, plus a limited number of Club staff). The various measures set out in the Phase 2 Protocol are intended to provide players with a safe and controlled environment in which to resume their conditioning."

As the statement notes, participation in Phase 2 activities are voluntary and will be limited to six players at a time. The Capitals have not yet set a date for the team's start of Phase 2.

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Phase 3 of the plan is training camp and, despite Thursday's announcement, we remain far off from that point. According to Pierre LeBrun, the earliest the league would start camps is July 10. Phase 4 is then the resumption of the season.

Presumably, Phase 3 will not start without a date set for when Phase 4. It is hard to believe the NHLPA would agree to an indefinite training camp. Phase 2, however, can begin without any formalized dates for Phases 3 and 4.  So while this is certainly a step towards the return of hockey and a sign that things are improving, all the difficult deciions regarding health and safety protocols as well as a timeline for the eventual 2020 postseason are still yet to be decided.

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Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

Pittsburgh Penguins announce unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19

An unnamed player on the Pittsburgh Penguins has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team announced on Thursday.

"This player is not in Pittsburgh and has been in isolation at home since first experiencing symptoms," the statement said. "He is recovered and feeling well. Those in close contact with the player leading up to the diagnosis have been notified." 

The organization stated that there would be no further updates on the player or situation at this time. 

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The Penguins are one of the 24 teams that will participate in the NHL's new playoff format once the season resumes. As of now, training camp for teams will not begin until July 10 at the earliest and there is still no clear timetable for when games will begin.

This announcement does bring up the question as to what the league will do if a positive diagnosis happens once play starts up again. Though NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly has stated that he doesn't believe one positive test will halt the entire postseason, a plan will need to be put in place for how to handle a player contracting coronavirus.

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