That this Marty St. Louis game-winning shootout goal was allowed to stand, in Wednesday night's 4-3 Tampa Bay Lightning victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, is further evidence that the skills competition is aggressively stupid.
The shootout rules are the same as those for a penalty shot, and here they are:
The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent's goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete. No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind (an exception being the puck off the goal post or crossbar, then the goalkeeper and then directly into the goal), and any time the puck crosses the goal line or comes to a complete stop, the shot shall be considered complete.
The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360° turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion.
Most of your spin-o-rama goals are scored on the backhand, like this Ryan Shannon embarrassment of Nikolai Khabibulin. One of Pierre-Marc Bouchard's classic spinners saw him go to the forehand before shooting backhand, stopping the puck's forward motion as his continued.
St. Louis? Dude spins. Dude stops. Dude goes forehand, goes backhand and then scores past a baffled Corey Crawford(notes). There was a delay after the shot, ostensibly so the War Room could review it. In hindsight, they may have just been buying time for NHL.com to upload it and trumpet its MUST SEE nature on the front page.
Crawford told ESPN Chicago after the game that "I think they made the right decision so we just have to live with it." Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville was more cynical:
"That's something I need someone to tell me exactly what the rule is. You can't lose your forward motion or momentum. It looked like it was a complete stop."
That it did, but why should we care if the NHL doesn't? The League has acknowledged the utter frivolity of the shootout by diminishing the impact of shootout wins on playoff seeding (and thus rendering the daily standings in the newspaper inaccurate). It'll never allow the shootout a sniff of the postseason. It's a sideshow that's not worth the War Room scrutiny … even if the Blackhawks may have been jobbed out of a point in the packed-like-sardines Western Conference.
C'mon, NHL: Go all in for the skills competition. It's for the fans, right? Full stops on shot attempts! No helmets! Let players use two sticks or a golf club! The world needs more prop comedy, and the shootout's just the joke for it.