The Colorado Avalanche have been victimized by another overturned goal due to an offside challenge. It cost them the game.
The offside review call is the bane of the Colorado Avalanche’s existence. No, really, if I wasn’t afraid it would jinx them, I’d wish for their next disallowed goal call to be because of goalie interference.
The Avs have suffered enough at the hands of the offside challenge. We all have. Every single team can trot out a list of disallowed goals due to a wonky goal review.
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The latest event happened tonight as the Avalanche faced the New York Islanders. It was a tight game. The Islanders are coached by Barry Trotz, and he’s renowned for his defensive-minded systems. Colorado doesn’t play well against those kind of teams if they can’t open up the ice.
Well, the Avs seemed to catch a break midway through the second period. They got followed the puck into the Islanders’ zone and got sustained offensive pressure there. It was a 0-0 game, but they were creating some buzz.
And then it happened! Defenseman Nikita Zadorov got his first goal since October 14! The Colorado Avalanche were up 1-0.
In this modern NHL, though, you can’t celebrate a goal until you’re sure it’s not going to be challenged. Sure enough, as I was typing out a celebratory tweet for the MHS account, the Islanders called for a coach’s challenge for offside review. I put the tweet on hold.
And then I had to delete it because the goal was overturned. Avs forward Andre Burakovsky was supposedly offside.
Let’s look at the video:
Ok, let’s start with the fact that it doesn’t look like Andre Burakovsky is offside. Stop at the 1:15 mark. The puck appears to be in the zone (in the air anyway) while Burakovsky is still straddling the blue line. That means the puck entered the zone before he did.
The situation room is using the still shot right before that moment as their rationale that the puck was still in the neutral zone (in the air anyway) when Burakovsy entered the offensive zone. Can you find the puck? I can find at least five tiny black dots that can be the puck — and that’s just looking in the general direction we think the puck is in. The entire backdrop of the shot is comprised of tiny black dots!
So, in the best frame we have of the split second, Burakovsky appears to not be offside. The frame the situation room chose to use is one that we cannot conclusively see where the puck is, so we can’t conclusively say Burakovsky is in ahead of the puck.
Now, remember, this is hockey not court. The determination has to be “conclusive,” not “reasonable doubt.”
Ok, for the sake of argument, let’s say the execs in Toronto have better resolution than I can get on my computer screen and the puck is, indeed, an inch or so behind Burakovsky as he enters the zone. Watch the entire beginning of the play as it develops, and you’ll see the following:
- Burakovsky enters the zone allegedly offside.
- The puck lands in front of an Islander, who proceeds to fall down.
- Burakovsky corrals the puck.
- Burakovsky dekes a defender.
- Burakovsky turns and skates back up the boards.
- Burakovsy passes to Joonas Donskoi.
- Donskoi corrals the puck and falls over an Islander player.
- Donskoi gets up and carries the puck to the blueline.
- Donskoi passes to Ian Cole, who loses the puck.
- Cole regains possession of the puck.
- Cole sends the puck along the boards.
- The puck goes past two Islanders and all the way around the net.
- Burakovsky regains possession of the puck.
- Burakovsky drives up the boards.
- Nikita Zadorov streaks into the offensive zone.
- Burakovsky passes Zadorov the puck.
- Zadorov wrists the shot, getting the puck past the goalie and into the net.
That’s a lot of action that happened after the alleged offside. It is, in fact, 22 whole seconds of action — of total puck possession by the Colorado Avalanche. Yet during that possession, the Islanders had plenty of chances to regain possession. Because, after all, 22 seconds is a long time in a hockey game.
The spirit of the offside call is to prevent cherry picking, players who will just wait in the offensive zone until the puck comes to them. Or, to prevent teams gaining an unfair advantage by entering the offensive zone before the puck.
By the time Zadorov scored the goal, Burakovsky’s alleged offside entrance had no more impact on the play! Two other players had possessed the puck before Burakovsy got it back and passed it to Zadorov. I’m not even sure Zadorov was on the ice when Burakovsky entered the zone!
The coach’s challenge for offside review makes a mockery of the spirit of hockey. I’m a proponent for eliminating it completely. Yes, one player one time scored a goal while being a mile offside. Once. How many goals have we seen overturned since then in which you need a high-resolution computer screen and a shot-by-shot angle of the play to determine a player was offside?
Let’s say you don’t want to eliminate the challenge completely because, hey, what if one more goal got scored when a player clearly had an unfair advantage by prematurely entering the zone. Fine. Then rule that the situation room officials cannot slow down the video or zoom in. If they can’t tell with instant replay whether a player was offside, then it clearly had no impact on the game.
We can all see in real time, without zooming in, that Matt Duchene was offside in the goal that started this whole hellscape.
I also have one more suggestion. Limit the time a team has to call a coach’s challenge. No more of these dedicated staff members up in the press box having all the time to slow down and zoom in on every single goal scored. Instead, the goal gets scored, the officials look at the scored-upon bench, and they have to decide then and there if they’re going to challenge the goal for offside.
Because again, the entire Nashville Predators bench knew instantly that Duchene was offside. They would have absolutely challenged it.
But the Islanders bench tonight? No way they would have challenged the Colorado Avalanche goal. They had to slow down and zoom in on the video on an event that happened 22 seconds before the goal was even scored.
But they had all the time in the world. And, once again, a few hard-to-see pixels decided a game. The Colorado Avalanche lost 1-0.
The NHL is trying to put out an exciting product that will capture new fans. The Colorado Avalanche put out an exciting product. Yet once again, they’ve been victimized by an offside challenge rule that’s completely broken. It’s time to fix it in a common sense manner or eliminate it completely.