The Boston Bruins can’t be too bent out of shape about it, because they still ended up beating the Blue Jackets 4-1 to even the series at two-all. But they did get their shutout ruined by a goal that shouldn’t have counted, and now we have another video review controversy in the NHL.
Midway through the first period, with the Bruins up 2-0, a shot from the blue line by Columbus defenseman Seth Jones deflected off Oliver Bjorkstrand and went up into the netting for a brief moment. Officials didn’t blow the whistle, however, and so when the puck came back down, Bjorkstrand sent it on goal, and then Artemi Panarin got the rebound to score.
Teams can challenge and officials can review seemingly almost anything that would disallow a goal—offsides, kicked pucks, high-sticks, etc.—but they can’t review this. The rulebook does allow video review for “pucks that hit the spectator netting prior to being directed immediately into the goal,” but the NHL’s strict interpretation of that phrase kept the goal in Columbus from being disallowed:
NOTE: For pucks that hit the spectator netting undetected by the On-Ice Officials, “immediately” shall mean the following:
a) When the puck strikes the spectator netting and deflects directly into the goal off of any player;
b) When the puck strikes the spectator netting and falls to the ice and is then directed into the goal by the player who retrieves the puck.
So if Bjorkstrand had scored on his shot, then Columbus, uh, wouldn’t have scored. But since Panarin scored on the rebound of Bjorkstrand’s shot, it’s irrelevant.
Confused? Bothered? So is Tuukka Rask:
Video replay is generally silly because the idea that it’s possible to slow down a play beyond what humans can perceive in realtime in order to discover some objective truth about, like, a kicking motion or goalie interference, is silly. But even if the list of potentially reversible plays that force fans to keep emotions in check after a maybe-goal feels like it keeps getting longer, this one should be pretty open-and-shut. The puck was in the netting, nobody in the Columbus camp can really argue against it, and we’re very lucky that the goal didn’t come in a close game, or else right now we’d be hearing about the national conspiracy to keep Boston from holding all four major championships. That plot should stay under wraps for the time being, and so long as replay is a thing, pucks in the netting should be reviewed in the same manner as the offsides rule.