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During Sunday's 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets, the Penguins had two potential goals waved off by officials thanks in part to the efforts of Chris Kunitz.
At the 4:44 mark of the third period, James Neal fired a slap shot from the left circle. Columbus goaltender Curtis Sanford fought the puck and allowed a rebound in the crease. Kunitz was positioned behind Sanford while engaged in a physical battle with Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. The puck deflected into the net but an official ruled Kunitz had kicked it in. A little later, with 10:38 remaining in the contest, a would-be goal by Chris Kunitz was waved off when officials ruled Kunitz had made incidental contact with Sanford.
It wasn't the first time Kunitz has been responsible for goals being waved off this season. After the game, Dan Bylsma estimated it was the "sixth, seventh or eighth" times it has happened in 2011-12. Bylsma also said he wasn't sure if Kunitz is gaining a reputation with officials who are quick to wave off goals if he's involved.
Today, Kunitz talked about any potential repuation he has, his run of disallowed goals this season and the techniques involved in being a net-front presence while having a modest size at 6-foot-0, 193 pounds.
Do you suspect you're getting a reputation with officials who might suspect you're doing something illegal?
"No. I don’t think so. I think it’s a judgment call and you make it as quick as you can. You see lots of goals overturned back and forth each way. I don’t think it’s necessarily one reason or the other. I’m unlucky."
So it's just bad luck that you've been involved in several of those calls this season?
"Yeah. I think so. I try to stay positive and go to the right areas. That’s the reason I’m getting the chances. I’ve got to be more responsible and not take moment away from the team."
Do you need to walk a fine line in this role between being a nuisance and doing it legally?
"Yeah. The goaltender interference rules everybody knows are clear cut when you’re going through the crease. The last game, I didn’t think I was even close to him. But whatever the call is, the ref is making a judgment call. It’s something you’ve got to be sure you’re not interfering with the goalie because you know it’s going to be called."
How much technique is involved in this role?
"I think you work at it. I think a guy like (Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas) Holmstrom has done a great job of planting himself there and not being able to be moved. I’m not so much one of those guys but somebody who can get in front of a goalie who can make him move to see the puck. I’m not a huge guy where he always has to look around. But if you’re moving and shuffling around the puck, that makes that guy adjust his eyes or not be able to see across and that’s where you can make trouble."
You're not a large person by NHL standards. Is it a misconception that you need to be big to fill this role?
"I think the rules have changed where you don’t have to take the abuse in front. But you still want to be in the goalie’s vision. They’re in a crouched position and if you want to be in an area where he can see the puck moving, that’s to your benefit."
Is there any other player you try to emulate while preforming this role?
"You work on it. Tipping shots and things like that. You want to be working on that aspect. A guy like (Red Wings forward) Todd Bertuzzi, I played with him, you can take a lot from him and watch his skills."
(Photos: First-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Second-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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