Wednesday’s game between the Cup-hopeful Lightning and the somehow-not-dead-yet Penguins came down to the final seconds, twice. Victor Hedman scored on a power-play slapper with 56.4 seconds left to give Tampa the lead, and then, with, oh, just about 0.3 seconds left, something happened on the goal line.
Amid a huge scramble in front, Kris Letang took a final shot in the final ticks, and Andrei Vasilevskiy may or may not have gotten his glove on it before it crossed the goal line. You tell me. Except you can’t! Because no one knows. Part of Vasilevskiy’s glove was over the line, but it is epistemologically unknowable where the puck was within the glove. (If anyone brings up the parallax angle, I swear to god I will end this blog right now.)
On the ice, it wasn’t so much that it was ruled “no goal” as it was that the final horn blew before the officials had time to pretend to know what they saw, and since they knew they’d have go to the videotape anyway, that’s what happened. After six minutes of review, no replay angle was sufficient to say one way or the other, so the save stood, and the Lightning walked off with the 3-2 win.
This was less about the limitations of replay and more about the limitations of reality, but, unsurprisingly, both teams had strong opinions. Sidney Crosby: “[I]t looks like it’s in his webbing and for a split-second it looks like his webbing is over the goal line.” Hedman: “I was confident the whole way, that was a big save.”
Someday very soon, this argument won’t exist. Puck tracking via chip is on its way, and could’ve even been in play last night if not for the NHL’s last-second switch of technology partners. Frankly, I think that’d be a tragedy. Sports need some level of ambiguity, because arguing is the best part. And more selfishly, as someone who inexplicably gets paid to give opinions on the internet I really value the occasional opportunity to just say “who the fuck knows?”