Goaltender interference becoming more frequent

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Goaltender interference becoming more frequent

If it feels like NHL referees have started engaging in a lot more conferences after goals over the last few weeks, its not your imagination at work.

For the Boston Bruins there have been extended discussions about potential goaltender interference after goals in each of their last two games, and in each case the call ended up benefitting the Black and Gold. In Sundays win over the Anaheim Ducks a Matt Beleskey game-tying goal in the third period was wiped out because the refs ruled that Andrew Cogliano was in the crease interfering with Marty Turcos ability to square up and play the shot.

It ended up being the turning point in the game and turned Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau into a red-faced, expletive-tossing madman on the Anaheim bench and according to former NHL hockey referee Kerry Fraser its a new directive from the NHL GMs to call some instances of goaltender interference much more closely.

The mandate from the NHL general managers reads as follows after being agreed upon during the GM Meetings held in Florida last month:

Following the scoring of a goal where there was traffic and action in the area of the crease and goalie interference may come into play all four officials are to come together in the referee's crease. Once in the crease, the team is to communicate all possible information in determining the validity of the goal. The down low ref is still to make a goal or no goal signal on the play and then meet with his colleagues if there was contact and action involving the goalie to discuss the play.

In a unique scenario where a goal is scored and a good goal is signaled, but no penalty was signaled and upon discussion, the linesman is 100 certain that the goalie was interfered with in some way, in the blue paint, the goal is disallowed but no penalty is assessed.

It did appear that Cogliano arrived in the crease and set up camp without any movement -- long before the shot and interfered with Turcos ability to play the shot, and it was the perfect example of the new enforcement expected from NHL referees. Interestingly enough there was another lengthy conference after Bostons game-winning goal in the third period on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning when Benoit Pouliot fired home a shot from the slot while Chris Kelly battled for position in front of the net.

Kelly was bumped around by defenders at ended up in the crease, but it didnt appear the center set up in front of Dwayne Roloson before the shot arrived. The goal was allowed to stand after a lengthy conference, and the Bruins ended up adding two more goals in the final period to pull away from the Lightning.

Two good examples of the new enforcement of goaltender interference and both of them arriving in short order for the Bruins. While the Bs players dont expect there will be a conference after every goal, they certainly have taken notice of the renewed attention to the action in and around the crease during goals. The fact the refs are willing to potentially look at and disallow pivotal goals in the third period of games tells you that its an issue theyre taking seriously.

Unlike the goal in Anaheim that was overturned I was with the defenseman battling for position. I wasnt on my own. It seems like the get the proper calls most of the time. It has happened in the last two games but I dont think it has happened too many times before, said Kelly. The refs want to give the goalies the best opportunities to save the puck. They dont want someone all over the goalie when he is trying to make the save. Thats not fair. If it is a battle in front of the goalie then thats fine for a goal to count.

Kelly appears to be correct in his assessment and theres little doubt this new mandate to call goalie interference is something well be seeing a lot of for the rest of the regular season and playoffs given the refs actions in the last two Bs games.

Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

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Giardi: Butler's offseason may cut deep, but it's time for him to battle back

This hasn’t been easy for Malcolm Butler. None of it. He’s never been given anything. Hell, at times he’s pissed his future away. But with a tenacity that reminds you of a certain 199th pick in the 2000 draft, Butler has fought his way back, into college, into the pros and, in 2015 and 2016, into the upper echelon of NFL cornerbacks. He’s a two-time Super Bowl champ, making arguably the most memorable play in the history of that game.

He should be drinking in the adulation, savoring an incredible start to his career and a very lucrative future. Instead, he’s in both professional and Patriots purgatory. Free agency beckons but there’s a season to play, and as this is the only professional team he’s known, a burning desire to be recognized as an important piece, not just in the present, but the future of this organization as well.
 
One of his closest friends on the team, Dion Lewis, calls Butler a warrior. “The game means so much to him.”

Another teammate, fellow defensive back Devin McCourty said of Butler, “This is what he does. He competes.”

Duron Harmon insists that the 27-year-old corner has been the same guy he’s always been. Actually, they all say that. But clearly, the coaching staff sees something different, leading to Butler’s demotion Sunday in New Orleans. 
 
Bill Belichick has been short when talking about Butler dating all the way back to the spring. That hasn’t changed now that the games count. He’s dismissed past performance. All that matters is how you’re playing now. Butler has not established that same level. Why? There is no easy answer.
 
The lack of a new contract cuts deeply. The unsettling offseason -- was he going to be a Saint? -- left quite a mark as well. But Butler came back to Foxboro with purpose, reporting for voluntary workouts. He was hell-bent on proving to all -- Belichick included -- that he was still the lead dog, not Stephon Gillmore, despite the $31 million dollars in guaranteed money the organization forked over to the former Buffalo Bill.
 
That strategy worked for a time. Butler was one of the Pats best players in training camp, right up until the joint practices with the Texans midway through August. What happened? Butler doesn’t know. But one mistake became two. His play in the preseason game with Houston was poor. His confidence suffered. He started pressing. That didn’t help. Butler was just as bad at Detroit. The kid that had always answered a knockdown with one of his own, instead wobbled to his feet. The inconsistencies were evident in practice but the "he's-Malcolm-he'll-fix-it" thought process that teammates echoed didn’t prove true, at least not entirely.
 
According to Eric Rowe, the cornerbacks were informed of the role change at the beginning of last week. But other teammates said they didn’t realize Butler wasn’t starting until the walkthrough Saturday. The ensuing fallout wasn’t surprising -- HE’S MALCOLM BUTLER, SUPER BOWL HERO, DAMMIT -- but the worry around the team has been justified because Butler takes things to heart. His swagger comes from the game. That was stripped away prior to the game against the Saints, and even at the beginning of this week, leading into the Texans game. Butler had to get his head right. If his meeting with the media Thursday is an indication, he has.

But the proof is in the play. Butler has always known that. And while his play didn’t warrant a role reduction, another message has been sent by the powers that be in Foxboro. What happens next is all on Butler. His future depends on it.

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

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Patriots place Vincent Valentine on IR, promote Geneo Grissom

FOXBORO -- Anyone hoping to see Vincent Valentine make his season debut got some bad news Friday. 

Valentine, who has been inactive for both of the Patriots' first two games with a knee injury, was placed on injured reserve. ESPN's Field Yates was first to report the news.

With Valentine on IR, Geneo Grissom was added to the roster from the practice squad. ESPN's Mike Reiss had that one first:

Valentine, whom the Pats chose 96th overall in 2016, has not been practicing with the team as he's dealt with the knee injury.

A third-round pick of the Pats in 2015, Grissom was released by the team in September and signed to the practice squad a day later.