The NHL tried to simplify its off-sides rule over the summer, but in the process appear to have only confused their own officials more. As a result, the Colorado Avalanche lost out on a critical point, or two, Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.
The league admitted Friday it bungled the call in what should have been a good Mikko Rantanen goal, which would have tied the Avs 4-4 with a little more than two minutes remaining. As TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Friday, the league said the Blues should never have been able to challenge Rantanen's goal because, well, there was never an official off-sides violation on the sequence that led to the goal.
Here's the rub: aside from a few astute rulebook interpreters on Twitter, including BSN Denver's own A.J. Haefele, nobody during the lengthy video review seemed to know the correct rule. That includes TV analysts, other media and, most important of all, nobody on the Avalanche bench.
No real fuss was kicked up by coach Jared Bednar or the players after the goal was disallowed, despite lots of time to watch replays that clearly showed Sven Andrighetto cleared the attacking zone and re-entered cleanly with the puck prior to dishing off to Rantanen. Andrighetto originally did accept a puck in off-sides territory, but as Note 1 of Rule 78.7 in the 2017-18 NHL Rule Book says, a play cannot be reviewed for off-sides when the player(s) successfully "tag up" before the puck re-enters the zone. Andrighetto and the rest of the Avs had successfully tagged up, but the goal seemed to have been disallowed based on the previous, wrongly assessed off-side.
Here's another rub: Andrighetto WAS off-side when he accepted Nikita Zadorov's pass. The play should have been blown dead right there. But under the strict interpretation of the rules, the play that was actually challenged should not have been eligible for the challenge, because THAT play was not off-sides.
Get it. Got it? Eh...good?
For the record, I reached out to the NHL's "War Room" after the game Thursday night, hoping to get the kind of clarification on the rule that only came this morning. But the message wasn't returned.
Here is Rule 78.7, otherwise known as Mud:
"The video review mechanism triggered by the Coach’s Challenge is intended to be extremely narrow in scope and the original call on the ice is to be overturned if, and only if, a determination is made that the original call on the ice was not correct. If a review is not conclusive and/or there is any doubt whatsoever as to whether the call on the ice was correct, the original call on the ice will be confirmed. NOTE: Only one Coach’s Challenge per team per stoppage will be permitted. A team may only request a Coach’s Challenge to review the following scenarios: (i) - – A play that results in a “GOAL” call on the ice where the defending team asserts that the play should have been stopped by reason of an “Off-side” infraction by the attacking team.
(a) The standard for overturning the call in the event of a “GOAL” call on the ice is that the NHL Situation 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. (b) If the result of the challenge is that the play was “On-side”, the goal shall count and the team that issued the challenge shall be assessed a minor penalty for delaying the game. (c) In the event a goal is reversed due to the NHL Situation Room (after consulting with the Linesman) determining that the play was “Off-side” prior to the goal being scored, the clock (including penalty time clocks, if applicable) will be re-set to the time at which the play should have been stopped for the “Off-side” infraction.
NOTE 1: Goals will only be reviewed for a potential “Off-side” infraction if: (a) the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again; or (b) all members of the attacking team do not clear the attacking zone again, between the time of the “Off-side” play and the time the goal is scored.
NOTE 2: If one or more penalties (major or minor) are assessed between the time of the “Off-side” play and the video review that disallows the apparent goal, the offending team(s) (and responsible Player(s)) will still be required to serve the penalty(ies) identified and assessed, and the time of the penalty(ies) will be recorded as the time at which the play should have been stopped for the “Off-side” infraction."