We should be big enough people (and bloggers) to say the same thing Dainius Zubrus did about last night’s over-turned goal call: “We won the game. Big deal.” But we can’t help but feel a little residual bitterness at being jobbed so frequently recently, with three goals for being waived off and one goal against counting after getting knocked in by a sprawling forward’s arm. We know every team feels like Toronto does them wrong, and we know that we admitted in The IPB Hour that the team needs to earn the breaks, but honestly, we’re not interested in being reasonable right now. We’re much more interested, particularly after seeing this photographic evidence of the Zubrus goal (found at Fire & Ice, where Tom Gulitti states this shot is inconclusive; we respectfully disagree. Vigorously), in bracing ourselves for the inevitable situations the Devils will surely find themselves in as the War Room continues it’s systematic killing of every Devils fan’s soul.
— Langer and an opposing forward tangle a bit in the Devils zone, both of them going down in a heap in the goal mouth. Meanwhile, the rest of the Devils go up the ice and clearly score. The puck is in the net, the opposing goalie is slumping, the goal light is on, there’s a helmet-nuzzling celebration in front of the net, and so on. But the officials were all busy watching Langer and the other dude tangling in Marty’s net, so they go to review, because they all missed the play. The War Room’s feeds of the game are all on the fritz, so they say they can’t make a definitive call. Since no goal was called on the ice, it’s all waved off. Days later, conclusive video evidence of a goal having been scored is found in the opposing team’s TV crew’s truck.
— The Devils clearly score, but none of the officials notice because they all think they see someone who looks like Hilary Duff in the crowd. So there’s no call on the ice, and they call the War Room for help. The War Room mistakenly starts the video a minute too early, and one of the video operators mistakes a glob of marinara from his Fat Darrell that fell on the screen as an extra Devil. They call Too Many Men and push the clock back a minute, disallowing the goal and putting the Devils down a man.
— The Devils clearly score, but the officials choose not to make a call, instead saying they want to double-check with the War Room because the puck went in and out so quickly against the back bar. The War Room does a hasty review and calls it no goal. When the replay of the overhead is shown on the jumbotron, though, the Devils can all see the puck traveling with enormous velocity toward the top of the net where there is neither goalie nor defender, then it disappears, and then suddenly it reappears in an opposite trajectory away from the net. But at no point can you see it in the net. The Devils are puzzled, but then, after examining the goal, protest vociferously. It turns out the opposing goalie has installed a tromp l’oeil dummy “top of the goal” on top of the net. Even with the evidence of the cheating revealed — Langer says to the officials, “Look!! I am holding up the false net-top!” — the goal is not allowed, as the puck was never visible behind the goal line.
— The Devils clearly score, but the officials won’t make a call on the ice because they’re all giving the Devils the silent treatment after the team provided them with non-quilted toilet paper in the refs’ dressing room. The War Room then goes to review it and at the exact moment the puck can be seen sitting completely across the goal line, a sparrow that has been circling the rafters for the last few days happens to fly between the camera and the puck, obscuring the puck but nothing else from view. The evidence is deemed inconclusive, and no goal is scored.
— A Devil scores two goals. They both — amazingly — count. Late in the game he makes a move at center ice, and finds himself suddenly looking at nothing but empty net, because the opposing goalie has overcommitted and is out at center ice in a pile of his own teammates, all of whom he inadvertently clotheslined in his misguided poke-check attempt. The Devil has a clear breakaway from center ice and totally vacated net. The fans start throwing hats before the puck is all the way in the net. The officials are so busy untangling the pileup of the opposing team that they miss the goal, and when they go to review, the War Room rules no goal because there are airborne hats obstructing their view.
— The Devils clearly score. Only, right before the goal, a fan tosses a beach ball on the ice, and it bounces toward the high slot. The Devil standing there turns his back to the net and kicks the ball away. At the same time as he’s booting the beach ball off the ice, the shot comes from the point, whizzes just past where he’s standing, and beats the goalie clean. The play goes to review anyway, and the War Room determines that, while the puck was not deflected at all by the play, and the kick was in the opposite direction of the net, there was an indisputably distinct kicking motion on the play, and the goal is disallowed.
— The Devils clearly score. On a slapshot. From the faceoff dot. It beats the goalie clean, and the puck lies in the net behind him for all the world to see. The horn blares. The goal light goes on. The officials point to center ice. It’s a goal. It’s good. Then, before the faceoff, the phone rings. It’s Toronto. “No goal,” they say. “Why?” ask the refs. “Because we say no goal.” Toronto hangs up. No goal.
— The Devils clearly score. On a slapshot. From the faceoff dot. It beats the goalie clean, and the puck lies in the net behind him for all the world to see. The horn blares. The goal light goes on. The officials point to center ice. It’s a goal. It’s good. The game continues, and the Devils win by one goal. After the final horn, the phone at scorers’ box rings, and it’s Toronto. They declare the goal shouldn’t count, and add, “Well, that would make this game a tie, but the other team has already left, so we can’t replay the game. We’ve determined, based on the other team’s history with shootouts, that they’d probably win. So give them the win.” The on-ice officials are uncomfortable with this; “But play went on,” they protest, “You can’t disallow that now. The window of opportunity has passed.” Toronto says, “We’re establishing precedent now. The Devils lose.”
— It’s skatearound time. Both teams are warming up, minding their own business, gearing up for the night’s action. Suddenly, they notice the phone is ringing in the scorers’ box. Langer goes to pick it up, and Toronto is on the other end of the line. “Is this the captain of the New Jersey Devils?” they ask. Langer says suspiciously, “Uh, yes.” Toronto: “Get your boys off the ice.” Langer: “Huh?” Toronto: “We’re just saving you some energy, son. You lose tonight.” Langer: “Wait, what?” Toronto: “None of your goals are going to count, and all of theirs are. Don’t even bother playing.” Langer: “Uh… okay.” He hangs up the phone, and the Devils troop pathetically off the ice.