In what seems like a daily trend, the NHL officials have come under fire for a call that was or wasn’t made in this season’s playoffs. In overtime of a pivotal Game 3 between the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks, Sharks forward Timo Meier gloved a loose puck out of the air to teammate Gustav Nyquist, who fed Erik Karlsson in the slot for the game-winning goal. The original pass by Meier, however, should have led to the play being blown dead, resulting in Karlsson’s shot not counting. All four officials on the ice, after a brief consultation, left the surface without a review to the dismay of the Blues players and fans.
This is not the first major officiating error in these playoffs, and certainly not the first one that went the Sharks way. The Sharks were, in back to back Game 7’s, given the benefit of two generous judgment calls.
The first was when Cody Eakin was given a match penalty that allowed the Sharks to score four powerplay goals and come back to get to overtime where they eventually eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights. The call, a crosscheck, was certainly a penalty, but the injury resulting to forward Joe Pavelski’s awkward landing was what netted Eakin a trip to the locker room.
In their next series vs. Colorado, the Avalanche had a tying goal taken off of the board due to an offside challenge.
A challenge that seemed inconclusive about whether or not captain Gabe Landeskog was on the blue line prior to entry into the zone.
The margin of error was so minute; however, video review apparently showed enough in the official’s eyes to warrant a call-reversal.
There have been other egregious errors, like the puck hitting the netting in Columbus leading to a Blue Jackets goal and plenty of missed calls here and there on high sticking and interference, but the NHL may have a problem on their hands with this. Three of these calls decided games and two ultimately decided the series.
So, what’s the answer? The easiest would be to make everything reviewable. But that may not be a wise decision.
Referees will be less inclined to make a definitive call if they know that replay has their back. Also, reviewing everything will make the fastest sport drag to a standstill like the final two minutes of an NBA playoff game.
As for a review, it should only be used to confirm every scoring play. If the puck doesn’t wind up in the back of the net, then replay shouldn’t be a possibility.
This way, the arbitrary rules of what can and cannot be reviewed go out the window and are no longer impacting the results of games.
Another alternative is to make offside reviews have to be 100 percent conclusive in order to change the call.
No more skate-on-the-ice-or-in-air controversy. Just black and white of whether or not you can clearly see a player over the line rather than if he’s offside by the laces on his skates. This postseason has been contaminated by these calls, and the NHL could have a severe problem on its hands if they don’t do something about it.