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So, about that offside review in the Avalanche/Blues game

Hey NHL, ya blew it!

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of last night’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues, we had ourselves a good ol’ fashioned controversy. With about two and a half minutes left in the game and the Blues leading 4-3, it looked like Mikko Rantanen had tied it for the Avs. The play, however, was offside. Sven Andrighetto was clearly in the attacking zone before he received the pass from Nikita Zadorov.

The Blues challenged the play and the goal was called back.

Carter Hutton stood on his head for the next two minutes and the Blues escaped Colorado with a 4-3 victory. But as it turns out, they probably shouldn’t have.

As the play was being challenged, there was a bit of confusion. Blues coach Mike Yeo had challenged a goal earlier int he game when Blake Comeau scored after what was perceived to be goaltender interference. The failed challenge meant a loss of timeout and that he couldn’t challenge anything else right?

As it turns out, when the NHL announced the change to the offside review rule - a failed challenge now resulting in a 2-minute bench minor - they didn’t really make clear that you don’t need a timeout anymore. A team is welcome to challenge as many offside calls as they want - as long as they’re willing to take the penalty.

So ok, that part got cleared up after the game. But that’s not the part that we should have been worried about.

The play in question should not have been able to be challenged. Not because of timeouts, but because of another part of the rule altogether. Here is a look at Rule 78.7 from the 2017-18 NHL Rule Book.

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.

The bolded part is what matters. In order for a play to be reviewed, the puck must not have left the attacking zone and return on an onside play.

There is no doubt that Andrighetto was offside on the play. The puck came out and he hadn’t cleared the zone. But by the nature of the rule, that becomes void the second the puck comes back outside of the attacking zone.

Andrighetto clearly brings the puck back across the blueline and then re-enters the zone with possession on an onside play. When he does this, the play is no longer eligible to be challenged since he was the last Avalanche player in the attacking zone. The rule is worded as such that only immediate attacking plays can be reviewed for offside - this is probably to avoid teams going back and challenging an offside a minute or two before a goal went in.

The officials got it wrong on the ice, and the war room back in Toronto got it wrong when they allowed the play to be challenged. By the wording of the rule - and intent of the rule for that matter - Rantanen’s goal should have counted. The Avalanche should have tied it up. And the game should have probably gone to overtime - something that you would assume would have helped the Avalanche team that was coming on strong and hadn’t played the night before.

Did the linesmen miss an offside call? Absolutely. But by the letter of the NHL law, that point is irrelevant here. The goal should have counted and the teams should have been off to overtime. It’s all too often that we see fans accusing officials or the league costing their team a game. Usually, it’s nothing more than anger stemming from passion and bias. In this case, Avalanche fans have a right to be upset.

**Update: The NHL has issued a statement confirming that they made the wrong call and that the goal should have counted