There was no backup goalie on the Detroit Red Wings bench when their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs started. Originally Jonathan Bernier was supposed to start the game, but he became ill and was not able to be on the bench.
In stepped Jimmy Howard. The game started with a rebound being deflected off of Frans Nielsen’s skate and past Howard. The second goal was scored by Tyson Barrie just 1:20 later. Then things got even stranger. Howard was injured on a shot by Barrie. Howard made it to his feet before John Tavares put the puck past him to give the Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead.
So, what does an NHL team do when this kind of situation arises?
From the NHL rulebook:
“Each team shall have on its bench, or on a chair immediately beside the bench, a substitute goalkeeper who shall, at all times, be fully dressed and equipped ready to play. Except when both goalkeepers are incapacitated, no skater in the playing roster shall be permitted to wear the equipment.
In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be intitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible. This goalkeeper is eligible to sit on the player’s bench, in uniform. In the event that the two regular goalkeepers are injured or incapacitated in quick succession, the third goalkeeper shall be provided with a reasonable amount of time to get dressed, in addition to a two-minute warm-up (except when he enters the game to defend against a penalty shot).
If, however, the third goalkeeper is dressed and, on the bench, when the second goalkeeper becomes incapacitated, the third goalkeeper shall enter the game immediately and no warm-up is permitted.”
The emergency backup goaltender (or EBUG) in Detroit on Wednesday night was Josh Block. Even with Bernier clearly under the weather, Block wound up not needing to enter the game. The Maple Leafs scored three more goals and defeated the Red Wings 6-0.
The result of this game will likely soon be forgotten. But what will not be forgotten is the effort that Bernier put forth while playing at much less than 100 percent.
Dylan Larkin tried to remain positive with the media after the game. “It’s tough right now,” Larkin said. “But maybe we take this feeling and remember it. Maybe we don’t have an answer right now, but soon we will and there’s positive things to look forward to.”
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