Referee got it right when he nixed Wheeler goal

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Controversial though the play seemed, NHL referee Chris Rooney nailed Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler on the letter of the law when he disallowed Wheeler’s apparent short-handed, game-tying goal and penalized the Jets forward for goaltender interference Tuesday night.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/01/2016 (2509 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Controversial though the play seemed, NHL referee Chris Rooney nailed Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler on the letter of the law when he disallowed Wheeler’s apparent short-handed, game-tying goal and penalized the Jets forward for goaltender interference Tuesday night.

It was a matter of judgment, appointed by the rulebook to Rooney and Brad Watson Tuesday night, and it was determined Wheeler simply didn’t do enough to avoid the contact he made with San Jose goalie Alex Stalock’s skate that caused the goalie to fall.

Stalock’s poor judgment and poor playing of the puck aren’t in question here and aren’t relevant.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock (32) falls as Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) passes him during third period NHL action in Winnipeg on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. The goal Wheeler scored was called back because he was penalized for tripping Stalock.

While Wheeler didn’t appear to go out of his way to contact Stalock — as former NHL referee Kerry Fraser intimated he did in his TSN blog — the contact, while “incidental,” was avoidable in Rooney’s judgment and that’s all that matters.

While the Jets have had amajority of video review calls go their way this season, they have been on the bad side of other, in-game calls.

Those would include earlier in Tuesday’s game, when “incidental” contact on defenceman Tyler Myers’ skates, simiilar to the Stalock incident, resulted in no penalty; referee Francis Charron’s one-off enforcement last Sunday on the free-hand holding rule to penalize Myers, when such things occurred regularly without call throughout the game; and the referees’ decision, after conference, to not call a textbook too-many-men penalty against the Buffalo Sabres late in the second period.

And one other bad memory that is fuelling the Jets and their fans about being picked on: last January’s game here against the San Jose Sharks was also decided on an officiating blunder with five seconds to play.

“The referees, there’s nothing you can do to affect calls going our way or not,” said Jets defenceman Toby Enstrom.

“That’s something you have to leave on the side. We can. There’s good spirit in this room and we have to find a way to get back on track here tomorrow.”

‘Over-thinking’, ‘over-doing’

The quickness issue is hurting the Jets, Enstrom said, and he said better thinking is the key to the fix.

“It’s not a secret that we’ve been struggling a little in our game,” Enstrom said. “But we know how good we can play and that’s where we want to be and trust me, every day we’re working on it and trying to push to get to that level.

“I think we’re over-thinking, overdoing a little bit. I think keeping the game simple and not overdoing stuff is what we want.”

Enstrom said the Jets have been taking nothing and nobody lightly.

“There are no easy teams in the NHL,” he said. “We know that from before. That’s a mentality you have to have coming to every game and trust me on that one, everybody in here hates to lose.

“I think, too, it might be a little bit in our heads.”

Recall notice

On Wednesday, the Jets recalled forward Matt Halischuk from the Manitoba Moose for the second time in the last month.

Halischuk played seven games for the team before being sent back to the AHL team Jan. 3.

His recall was made so the Jets have a healthy extra forward for tonight’s game versus the Nashville Predators.

Centre Mark Scheifele, who suffered some kind of lower-body injury last Thursday in Dallas, has been unable to play the last two games and was placed on the injured reserve list Wednesday, retroactive to Jan. 7.

Scheifele could be eligible to play Friday in Minnesota if he’s healthy.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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