Not one but two NHL officials missed a blatant offside violation in today’s Nashville Predators-Colorado Avalanche game.
Colorado forward Matt Duchene preceded the puck into the zone by several feet. The Predators defenseman around him, Preds goalie Chris Mason, and even Duchene himself all relaxed – exactly what you’d expect when everyone on the ice realizes a player was so far offside that there’s going to be a faceoff. Then Duchene, aware the whistle hadn’t been blown, pulled the trigger and scored on Mason. The horn blared, the referee signaled a goal, the celebration song started playing, and the NHL Network commentators went from saying “Oh my, what a play!” to “Wait, I think that might have been offside” in the space of about two seconds.
Here’s the relevant part of the NHL rule on off-side violations:
Players of the attacking team must not precede the puck into the attacking zone. The position of the player’s skates and not that of his stick shall be the determining factor in all instances in deciding an off-side. A player is off-side when both skates are completely over the leadingedge of the blue line involved in the play.
Here’s the entire play in video form:
Here’s a screen-grab of Duchene’s position just before the puck entered the zone:
— Darren R Pang (@Panger40) February 18, 2013
How do two NHL officials – one linesman standing at the blue line, the other across the ice with a clear view of the white gap between Duchene and the blue line – miss this call? Does the NHL have faith in officials who can’t get a simple call like this right to perform well when it comes to the truly difficult parts of their jobs? If so, what about when the playoffs roll around? Is this level of officiating sufficient for overseeing the games that will determine who wins the Stanley Cup? If not, why does it suffice today?