Penguins blame series loss to Rangers on helmet rule: ‘It stinks’

penguins hemlet rule
May 15, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan walks off the ice after losing to the New York Rangers 4-3 in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have been eliminated from the NHL Playoffs after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers.

Instead of focusing on the fact they blew four separate leads (1 in Game 5, 1 in Game 6, and 2 in Game 7), head coach Mike Sullivan and Sidney Crosby whined about “the helmet rule”.

“We didn’t get that extra goal there late in the game and a terrible rule probably ends up being the difference in the game,” Crosby lamented afterwards.

Penguins blame helmet rule for series loss

Here’s the rule that Crosby is complaining about:

A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play shall be assessed a minor penalty if he does not exit the playing surface, or retrieve and replace his helmet properly on his head (with or without his chin strap fastened), within a reasonable period of time. It is reasonable if a player who is making a play on the puck or who is in the vicinity of the puck and engaged in the play at the time his helmet comes off, takes the opportunity to complete the play before either exiting the ice or retrieving and replacing his helmet. 

NHL Rule-book Section 3, 9.6

The play in question came on the tying goal by Mika Zibanejad with 5:45 remaining in the third period. Alexis Lafrenière and Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson got tangled up behind the Pittsburgh goal.

As the players went down, Lafrenière’s arm was up around Pettersson’s head causing the helmet to come off. Instead of going to pick it up and put it back on, he waved his arms at the ref in frustration before heading to the bench.

I know, the audacity of not calling a penalty anytime a Penguins player gets touched is appalling.

This apparently gave the Rangers an unfair advantage that eventually led to Mika’s goal. I’ve reviewed it myself several times and the on-ice result had nothing to do with Pettersson’s helmet coming off. The Penguins had plenty of time to recover and didn’t.

“He has to come off, by rule,” Sullivan complained. “I think it stinks. He has to come off. His helmet got pulled off intentionally. But that’s the rule.”

Unfortunately for the Penguins they don’t seem to fully understand the rule. He did not HAVE TO come off meaning the loss is fully on them.

Penguins blaming officiating is pretty rich

mike sullivan
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that the Penguins are complaining about officiating or the NHL rule-book after almost everything going there way is beyond rich.

It’s almost as if they forgot a Filip Chytil goal was erroneously disallowed after Brian Dumoulin shoved Kaapo Kakko into Casey DeSmith in Game 1. Despite video review, the NHL could not discern a clear shove by Dumoulin into Kakko’s back.

In what should’ve been a win for the Rangers turned into a triple OT loss thanks to that blown call.

And in the same game that Sullivan and Crosby are moaning about, Jake Guentzel’s goal to make it 2-1 was hit with a stick above the crossbar. Once again, video review couldn’t see from multiple angles that it was an illegal goal.

Both times the call was a goal on the ice by the officials which needed clear video evidence to overturn, and both times it went Pittsburgh’s way.

The New York Rangers are advancing to Round 2 because they fought for and deserved it. Not because calls went their way, because heaven knows they surely didn’t.

Matter of fact, they didn’t complain about about officiating once. Instead, they put their heads down and never gave up.

One last note, the Pittsburgh media is still screaming bloody murder over Jacob Trouba’s incidental collision in Game 5 that knocked out Sidney Crosby for Game 6.

No one on the ice saw it as penalty and the NHL saw no reason to review it. The majority of media outside of Pittsburgh clearly viewed it the same.

“If you’re trying to throw a headshot with your stick hand it’s impossible,” former Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said on Sportsnet. “He’s going stick on puck and it’s a bit of him bringing his arm in as Crosby’s turning. I think there’s no suspension.”

However, if you read about it in the Pittsburgh media without the benefit of seeing the play yourself, you would swear that Trouba climbed the top of the goal net and delivered a flying elbow that would’ve made the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage proud.

NHL Playoff Scores

The New York Rangers completed their series comeback with an Artemi Panarin OT winner, and the Calgary Flames got an OT goal by Johnny Gaudreau to advance to Round 2. Read more.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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