If you weren’t able to tune in, or gave up on the game, you missed a bizarre one between the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues tonight. I’ll take a paragraph to briefly describe the situation, skip ahead slightly if you watched it.
After a hilarious bounce off a joint in the boards resulted in an open-net goal for Alexander Kerfoot, the Blues’ 2 goal lead was cut to 1. 4-3 with a few minutes to play. Colorado kept applying pressure, and after a truly excellent shift by Sven Andrighetto went to waste, the Blues cleared the puck toward Nikita Zadorov, who batted it back in with his hand. A Blues player (for he only knows what reason) played the puck back to Zadorov, who passed it straight to Andrighetto. Andrighetto turned and regained the zone as Mikko Rantanen streaked down the opposite wing, creating a 2 on 1. Andrighetto hit him with the pass and Rantanen hammered home the tying goal. But, as replays would show, when Zadorov played the puck back to Andrighetto, he touched it before he left the offensive zone. St. Louis reviewed the play and the officials overturned it. Avs go on to lose a really wacky one, 4-3.
This isn’t to blame this game on the officials, not at all. If nothing else, we can all learn something that almost no fans knew about coach’s challenges before this game. But the NHL got this one demonstrably wrong twice. First the officials blew a completely obvious offside play, but then Toronto also blew it because this was not a reviewable part of the play. Only the NHL can screw both teams on the same play. It’s truly breathtaking.
First we were thoroughly bamboozled by the review even being allowed. St. Louis had already unsuccessfully challenged Blake Comeau’s goal into an open net after he drove hard, which caused a Blues defensemen to take goaltender Carter Hutton sliding halfway to Wyoming. They had no timeout remaining after that. How could they challenge again? Turns out, as we had all forgotten, the NHL made two different kinds of goal challenges this summer, which are not equal and not intuitive. If you fail a challenge for goalie interference, you lose your time out. If you fail a challenge for offside it’s a penalty. That means you don’t need a time out to challenge for offside. Why? It’s the NHL–why anything? They heard us clamoring for some kind of limit on how far back we can review for offside and said “unlimited offside challenges? You betcha.”
The explanation of the review itself can be found here:
After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that Colorado’s Sven Andrighetto was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Toronto Video Room, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”
The NHL go on to explain the relevant sections of Rule 78.7 in that post, which explains the call they made, and sure had me convinced they were right.
Difficulty: That’s not all the relevant sections.
Below is the entire section of Rule 78.7 regarding offside challenges. I boxed in blue the sections the NHL explanation refers to, and in burgundy the relevant section they kind of forgot exists. Sorry, the page breaks right there on the PDF, it’s disgustingly ugly, but this is the NHL we’re talking about here.
So, in order for the Blues challenge to work, Colorado has to have demonstrably entered the zone offside. Here’s the moment where Andrighetto was, in technical terminology, Hella Offside:
Zadorov got a little overzealous passing the puck back in. Andrighetto is in the process of exiting the zone here and received an obviously offside puck. The linesman can’t see that because he’s cowering behind Oskar Sundqvist, a.k.a. Bonehead Who Played Zadorov’s Hand Pass. The other linesman can’t see it because he is an NHL linesman.
The play indisputably should have been blown dead here. That’s offside and meets everything in the Blue Box. So now we turn to the Burgundy Box. Either of the following conditions have to be met for this call to be reviewable:
- the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again
- all the Avs don’t clear the zone
To the Zapruder tape….
The puck demonstrably leaves the zone:
Andrighetto was the last Av in the zone:
And he completely exited the zone, too, without allowing the puck to re-enter yet. He kind of pauses here, as if he knows he done goofed, and then suddenly realizes nobody has stopped play yet.
The puck came out of the zone, as did all attacking players. Then Colorado scored the tying goal. This was, therefore, not a reviewable call according to the rulebook. On the ice they made the wrong call, and it was absolutely right to reverse it if the challenge was legal, but this was not a legal challenge. Not content to stick it to the Blues by allowing an offside play that results in a tying goal, they also stick it to the Avalanche by then overturning it in a challenge that should not exist.
Again, none of this is to take away from the game as a whole tonight. Carter Hutton stopped a whole lot of excellent chances, and St. Louis built a two goal lead on the back of some snipe shows, plus Avalanche turnovers and breakdowns that allowed them in the first place. This one play was crucial to the game’s outcome, but hardly “lost them the game.”
However, instead of talking about how crazy this whole night was, the caroms, the tackled goalies, the power plays, the injuries, the HOCKEY, no, fans were left to figure out for themselves why the NHL took at least a loser point away from them tonight. Because it turns out the answer is it shouldn’t have, and until they release a statement clarifying exactly how this play satisfies Rule 78.7.i, Note 1, the Avalanche find themselves, once again, in the Nuts and Bolts Zone after an offside review.
*corrected for having credited the wrong player with knocking Hutton to Wyoming.