Trash talk is a lost art in hockey. Especially in this era, where microphones are everywhere, PC sensibilities are at an all-time high, and the NHL is actively trying to make players act nicer. So it’s especially refreshing when two of the NHL’s brightest and most soft-spoken young stars go full Khloe Kardashian, dragging not other players, but the referees themselves, who lately have had trouble grasping yet another lost art: that of the fair goalie interference call.
This week, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs saviour Auston Matthews got more than a tad agitated with officials after they controversially reversed goals due to apparent netminder interference. And in both instances, the stars retaliated by scoring goals and hitting the refs back with some glorious, highlight reel-worthy right there, Freds.
Exhibit A: Connor McNasty says “check, please”
On Thursday night, as the Oilers and Calgary Flames were slugging it out in overtime, McDavid undressed the Flames’ defence en route to setting up what appeared to be the game-winner.
RYAN STROME IN OVERTIME! or not….
Goalie interference was called on this play, do you agree? pic.twitter.com/TaYdjF4RLQ
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) January 26, 2018
But not so fast. After video review showed McDavid’s skate slightly, at best, grazing Flames goalie David Rittich’s stick, the refs decided to overturn the goal, much to the dismay of many.
Just saw the goalie interference call in the Oilers game. This is absurd. I am totally disillusioned with what they think they’re trying to accomplish. It’s clear the rule is “we don’t know what the rule is, so we will throw darts on each review” Signed, NHL
— Ray Ferraro (@rayferrarotsn) January 26, 2018
What a joke that goalie interference call is on Mcdavid. Poisoning the product with garbage calls the NHL needs to figure this out.
— Patrick O'Sullivan (@realPOSULLIVAN) January 26, 2018
— Jeff Hendrick (@jeffhendrick) January 26, 2018
The best reaction to that farcical call, however, came during the shootout, when a visibly incensed McDavid scored the game-winner before sarcastically asking the refs to “check upstairs” again and make sure his goal was kosher.
You savage, Connor.
Exhibit B: Auston 3:16 says “the goal is good”
On Monday night, with the Leafs and Colorado Avalanche tied 1-1, Matthews scored what looked like the go-ahead goal, only for it to be disallowed because of — surprise! — another highly questionable goaltender interference call.
Matthews, who has been showing more emotion than usual lately, had an instantly GIF-able reaction to the decision that just about said it all.
Fired up, Papi counterattacked by going straight God Mode, cannoning down the ice just two minutes later and hammering home an absolutely unimpeachable goal. The whole thing was made all the sweeter by his ruthless celebration: he spun around and forcefully gave the classic “goal sign” right beside ref Gord Dwyer, saving him the trouble and ruling it a good goal himself.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 23, 2018
There was so much shade thrown here it seemed for a moment that the rink was engulfed by an eclipse.
More of this, please, McDavid and Matthews. More venom, more attitude, more feels. You’re both talented enough to warrant showing your emotions, and god knows you’re being paid enough — or will soon be, anyhow — to take whatever fines you might get for doing so. And if the refs are going to keep making the malarky calls they’re making — while neglecting to reach a consensus on just what the hell goalie interference even is — then they’d best be prepared to take some heat for it.
Goalie interference challenges overturned from "goal" to "no goal"
This season: 33
All of last season: 35
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 26, 2018
Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, the NHL's two highest-profile talents in their age group, have both had a goal taken away from their teams via goalie interference calls this week, only for both of them to score shortly after AND follow that up with a poke at the referees pic.twitter.com/rCyR0tSP4f
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) January 26, 2018
May the trolling continue.