Ryane Clowe is the A.J. Pierzynski of the NHL. He’s pest that gets under your skin, comes up with the clutch plays and isn’t afraid to play a little dirty to get the job done. And naturally, he did all of those things on Thursday night, in the Sharks’ 6-5 shootout win over the Kings at Staples Center.
In addition to having a Gordie Howe Hat Trick that included not one, but two fights, Clowe performed the most bush league acts in the NHL since Chris Simon two-handed Ryan Hollweg back in 2007. While it wasn’t a lethal blow a la Simon, Clowe reach out from the bench to take the puck away from Jarret Stoll, who was skating up the ice for the Kings on what would have been a 2-on-2 opportunity to score.
As seen in the image, there’s no question that Clowe touched the puck. Stoll saw it, Drew Doughty certainly saw it, and everyone inside Staples Center and at home saw it, with the exception of the two referees and linesmen on the ice. How exactly does a call like that get missed? Yes, Logan Corture comes from behind Stoll to bat the puck away a second later, but that would only interfere with the sight of a linesman trailing the play. Since Jarret Stoll was carrying the puck, eyes had to be on him, so there’s no excuse for a penalty not being called.
When watching the replay(click here), you can see three of the four officials. The referee at the top of the screen has his sight blocked by a number of players. The linesman behind the play is seen looking the other way, back into the Kings zone. While that would exonerate those two from seeing the stick on the ice, the other referee, seen at the end of the video in the bottom right corner, is in the Sharks’ zone, facing the play and watching the puck. The only way he doesn’t see the puck is if Marc-Edouard Vlasic screens his vision for a brief moment, which is impossible to tell from the angle of the camera, especially with the referee being off screen. But given that the second linesman is not seen, and the stance of the referee as he comes into the frame, the odds that one of two did not see the puck get touched is slim. And if they legitimately didn’t see it, there’s no excuse for all four eyes to simultaneously be off the puck, even for a split second.
Also, if you don’t think the play had an influence on the game, you’re crazy. The Kings suddenly had momentum after a late 5-on-3 gave the Kings a fourth power play goal and erased a 5-4 Sharks lead. After the Clowe incident, the Kings appeared to be a step slower and frustrated, and as a fan, you knew it wasn’t going to end well. Did it cost the Kings the game? No. Not directly, as you can blame the Kings’ poor penalty kill for that. But you cannot reasonably deny that Clowe altered the momentum of the game, and give him credit, that’s his job as a pest.
Friend of the program, Bobby Scribe from Surly & Scribe, said it best after the game, lamenting his distain for Ryane Clowe and comparing him to Sean Avery, which is a spot-on assessment given their track records.
He is the kind of player that will betray his team and teammates, cares little about the fans and has zero integrity. That is what Ryane Clowe is and what he showed himself to be as a member of the San Jose Sharks tonight. It doesn’t matter that he is a good hockey player. Sean Avery was a good hockey player but neither Avery or Clowe are professionals. The penalty that should have been called is unsportsmanlike conduct. That is exactly what Ryane Clowe is. Unsportsman.
The Avery Rule came into play after he messed with the sight lines of Martin Brodeur, something that had never been seen before. It’ll be interesting if Brandon Shannahan reviews the tape and declares that there will be a Clowe Rule. One thing is for sure though, Clowe went from being hated in Los Angeles to being hated worldwide, as evident by him trending on Twitter around the globe, following the incident.
With one game left, the Kings don’t have the pressures of trying to make the playoffs, but the yearning of winning a divison title remains. Come Saturday night, they’ll have to beat San Jose to make it happen.